Province-level divisions
Shěngjí Xíngzhèngqū
  Autonomous regions
  Special Administrative Regions
CategoryUnitary state
Location People's Republic of China
Number33-34 (1 claimed)
Province-level administrative divisions
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese省级行政区
Traditional Chinese省級行政區
Tibetan name
Zhuang name
Mongolian name
Mongolian scriptᠮᠤᠵᠢ
Uyghur name
Manchu name
Manchu scriptᡤᠣᠯᠣ

China is officially (de jure) divided into 34[a] province-level administrative divisions, the first level of administrative division in the country. There are four types of divisions at the province level:

Province-level divisions can trace their origins back to the Yuan dynasty. The political status of Taiwan Province, as well as small portions of other provinces, are disputed.


The legislative branch at the provincial level is the People's Congress, modeled on the National People's Congress. Provincial People's Congresses have had legislative powers since 1979, and pass laws on a wide variety of issues.[1] The executive branch is the Provincial People's Government, led by a governor in the provinces, a mayor in provincial-level cities, a chairman in the autonomous regions. The head of the government is assisted by a number of subordinate officials such as Vice-Governors.[2] The head of the People's Government is appointed by the State Council.[b][1] That said, the People's Governments are responsible to both the State Council and the regional People's Congress, and implement the decisions of both bodies.[3] They also pass the State Council's instructions down to the lower levels of the administration. Province-level governments have the power to set budgets and raise revenue, although they are subject to the State Council's approval. They can pursue development projects without seeking central government approval.[1]

Provincial level party structure

As with the central government, province-level divisions are governed by parallel party and state structures. Each province-level branch of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) holds a Party Congress every five years. The congress will elect a Party Committee, which in turn elects a Standing Committee. The Standing Committee includes a party secretary, who is the leader of the CCP in that province-level division. The Standing Committee usually includes the top members of the People's Government as well.[4]

Provincial People's Government buildings


Main article: History of the administrative divisions of China (1949–present)

Further information: History of the administrative divisions of China

The first province-level divisions were created in the Yuan dynasty, and have remained one of the most stable forms of Chinese government since then.[5] They were created to help the Imperial court manage local county governments, which were too numerous and far-flung to be managed directly.[6] The number of provinces grew steadily during subsequent dynasties, reaching 28 by the time of the Republic of China.[7] Under the Nationalist Government, large cities began to be classified separately from other administrative units. Starting in 1930, some of these "special cities" became "direct jurisdiction cities" under the central government, the predecessor of province-level cities.[8] During the Warlord Era, provinces became largely or completely autonomous and exercised significant national influence. Province-level units proliferated and under the early People's Republic there were over 50.[9]

In the mid-1950s, the People's Republic (PRC) made several major reforms to province-level administration. Despite closely modelling other aspects of the PRC on the Soviet Union, the CCP's experience with territorial disintegration during the Warlord Era led them to reject the Soviet federal structure.[10] Instead, the total number of provinces was significantly reduced and the unitary state structure was retained. Most direct jurisdiction cities were abolished, although a few became province-level cities. Limited autonomy was granted to ethnic minorities in five new "Autonomous Regions" (see below).[10] People's Congresses were set up to run province-level governments. During the Cultural Revolution, these Congresses each elected a revolutionary committee to exercise both executive and legislative power when they were not in session.[11] Province-level divisions had limited independent authority before the period of Reform and Opening-up, due to the centrally planned nature of the economy. Their main role was to implement the decisions about production goals, raising and spending revenue, and how to allocate resources that were made by the central government.[12] However, in contrast with the Soviet system, there was some degree of regional autonomy. Many provincial governments ran smaller manufacturing firms independently of the central government.[1] Since 1979, the central government has granted increased decision-making authority to provincial level governments. In turn, they have devolved the power to make local regulations to cities other local governments.[11][13]

List of province-level divisions

GB/T 2260-2007[14] ISO[15] Province Chinese
Hanyu Pinyin
Capital Population[c] Density[d] Area[e] Abbreviation[f]
AH CN-AH Anhui Province 安徽省
Ānhuī Shěng
Hefei 61,027,171 436.29 139,879
BJ CN-BJ Beijing Municipality 北京市
Běijīng Shì
Tongzhou 21,893,095 1,334.05 16,411
CQ CN-CQ Chongqing Municipality 重庆市
Chóngqìng Shì
Yuzhong 32,054,159 388.99 82,403
FJ CN-FJ Fujian Province[g] 福建省
Fújiàn Shěng
Fuzhou 41,540,086 335.66 123,756
GD CN-GD Guangdong Province[h] 广东省
Guǎngdōng Shěng
Guangzhou 126,012,510 700.02 180,013
GS CN-GS Gansu Province 甘肃省
Gānsù Shěng
Lanzhou 25,019,831 54.70 457,382 甘(陇)
Gān (Lǒng)
GX CN-GX Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region 广西壮族自治区
Guǎngxī Zhuàngzú Zìzhìqū
Nanning 50,126,804 210.78 237,818
GZ CN-GZ Guizhou Province 贵州省
Guìzhōu Shěng
Guiyang 38,562,148 218.93 176,140 贵(黔)
Guì (Qián)
HA (HEN) CN-HA Henan Province 河南省
Hénán Shěng
Zhengzhou 99,365,519 600.52 165,467
HB (HUB) CN-HB Hubei Province 湖北省
Húběi Shěng
Wuhan 57,752,557 310.87 185,776
HE (HEB) CN-HE Hebei Province 河北省
Héběi Shěng
Shijiazhuang 74,610,235 393.08 189,809
HI CN-HI Hainan Province[i] 海南省
Hǎinán Shěng
Haikou 10,081,232 294.27 34,259
HK CN-HK[j] Hong Kong Special Administrative Region 香港特别行政区
Xiānggǎng Tèbié Xíngzhèngqū
Tamar 7,061,200 6,396.01 1,108
HL CN-HL Heilongjiang Province 黑龙江省
Hēilóngjiāng Shěng
Harbin 31,850,088 67.37 472,766
HN (HUN) CN-HN Hunan Province 湖南省
Húnán Shěng
Changsha 66,444,864 313.65 211,842
JL CN-JL Jilin Province 吉林省
Jílín Shěng
Changchun 24,073,453 126.51 190,282
JS CN-JS Jiangsu Province 江苏省
Jiāngsū Shěng
Nanjing 84,748,016 847.91 99,949
JX CN-JX Jiangxi Province 江西省
Jiāngxī Shěng
Nanchang 45,188,635 270.69 166,939
LN CN-LN Liaoning Province 辽宁省
Liáoníng Shěng
Shenyang 42,591,407 289.59 147,076
MO CN-MO[k] Macau Special Administrative Region 澳门特别行政区
Àomén Tèbié Xíngzhèngqū
552,300 19,044.82 29
NM CN-NM Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region 内蒙古自治区
Nèi Měnggǔ Zìzhìqū
Hohhot 24,049,155 20.05 1,199,372 蒙(绥)
Měng (Suí)
NX CN-NX Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region 宁夏回族自治区
Níngxià Huízú Zìzhìqū
Yinchuan 7,202,654 108.47 66,400
QH CN-QH Qinghai Province 青海省
Qīnghǎi Shěng
Xining 5,923,957 8.58 690,355
SC CN-SC Sichuan Province 四川省
Sìchuān Shěng
Chengdu 83,674,866 174.93 484,056 川(蜀)
Chuān (Shǔ)
SD CN-SD Shandong Province 山东省
Shāndōng Shěng
Jinan 101,527,453 643.78 157,704
SH CN-SH Shanghai Municipality 上海市
Shànghǎi Shì
Huangpu 24,870,895 3,922.24 6,341 沪(申)
Hù (Shēn)
SN (SAA) CN-SN Shaanxi Province 陕西省
Shǎnxī Shěng
Xi'an 39,528,999 192.24 205,624 陕(秦)
Shǎn (Qín)
SX (SAX) CN-SX Shanxi Province 山西省
Shānxī Shěng
Taiyuan 34,915,616 222.80 156,713
TJ CN-TJ Tianjin Municipality 天津市
Tiānjīn Shì
Hexi 13,866,009 1,194.32 11,610
TW CN-TW[l] Taiwan Province[m] 台湾省
Táiwān Shěng
Taipei 23,162,123 650.97 36,161 台(臺)
XJ CN-XJ Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region 新疆维吾尔自治区
Xīnjiāng Wéiwú'ěr Zìzhìqū
Ürümqi 25,852,345 15.72 1,644,707
XZ CN-XZ Tibet Autonomous Region 西藏自治区
Xīzàng Zìzhìqū
Lhasa 3,648,100 3.03 1,204,776
YN CN-YN Yunnan Province 云南省
Yúnnán Shěng
Kunming 47,209,277 123.20 383,195 云(滇)
Yún (Diān)
ZJ CN-ZJ Zhejiang Province 浙江省
Zhèjiāng Shěng
Hangzhou 64,567,588 615.67 104,873

See also


  1. ^ Including the disputed Taiwan Province.
  2. ^ Subordinate provincial officials are appointed by province-level committees.
  3. ^ as of 2020
  4. ^ per km2
  5. ^ km2
  6. ^ Abbreviation in the parentheses is informal
  7. ^ Most of the Fujian Province is administered by the People's Republic of China (PRC) while the Republic of China on Taiwan includes Kinmen County (Quemoy) and Lienchiang County (Matsu) formerly under its own streamlined Fujian Province.
  8. ^ Most of the Guangdong Province is administered by the People's Republic of China (PRC) while the Republic of China on Taiwan includes Pratas Island (also named Tungsha Island or Dongsha Island) as part of the Dongsha Atoll National Park.
  9. ^ Most of the Hainan Province is administered by the People's Republic of China (PRC) while the Republic of China on Taiwan includes Taiping Island (Itu Aba) as part of Cijin District, Kaohsiung.
  10. ^ Has separate ISO 3166-2 code: HK
  11. ^ Has separate ISO 3166-2 code: MO
  12. ^ Has separate ISO 3166-2 code: TW
  13. ^ The People's Republic of China considers Taiwan to be its 23rd province, but Taiwan is currently administrated by the Republic of China. Since 1945, the ROC only controls the island of Taiwan and Penghu. For Kinmen and Matsu, see note on Fujian Province. See also Political status of Taiwan


  1. ^ a b c d Chung & Lam 2010, Chapter 2.
  2. ^ Goodman 2015, pp. 95–96.
  3. ^ Saich 2015, pp. 157–158.
  4. ^ Goodman 2015, p. 96.
  5. ^ Guo 2017, p. 23.
  6. ^ Fitzgerald 2002, p. 16.
  7. ^ Goodman 2015, pp. 150, 154.
  8. ^ Fitzgerald 2002, p. 27.
  9. ^ Goodman 2015, pp. 153–154.
  10. ^ a b Chung & Lam 2010, Chapter 1.
  11. ^ a b Saich 2015, p. 158.
  12. ^ Zhang, LeGates & Zhao 2016, p. 89.
  13. ^ Zhang, LeGates & Zhao 2016, pp. 90–92.
  14. ^ "GB/T 2260 codes for the provinces of China". Archived from the original on 2004-03-05. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
  15. ^ ISO 3166-2:CN (ISO 3166-2 codes for the provinces of China)