Autonomous municipality[I]
  Cities are shown in purple
CategorySpecial municipalities, counties, and cities
LocationIsland of Taiwan
Number3 (as of 2019)
Areas60–133 km2
    • City government
    • City council

An autonomous municipality,[1] county-level city or city,[I] previously provincial city, is a de jure second-level administrative division unit in the Republic of China (Taiwan).[2]

The provincial cities were formerly under the jurisdiction of provinces, but the provinces were streamlined and effectively downsized to non-self-governing bodies in 1998, in 2018 all provincial governmental organs were formally abolished.[2][3] Provincial cities along counties, are presently regarded as de facto principal subdivisions directed by the central government of the ROC.


Main articles: Sub-provincial division and History of the administrative divisions of China (1912–1949)

See also: Political divisions of Taiwan (1895–1945) and County-level city

The first administrative divisions entitled "city" were established in the 1920s when Taiwan was under Japanese rule. At this time cities were under the jurisdiction of prefectures. After the World War II, nine (9) out of eleven (11) prefectural cities established by the Japanese government were reform into provincial cities. Their roman spellings are also changed to reflect the official language shift from Japanese to Mandarin Chinese, but characters remain the same.

Spelling changes of provincial cities in 1945
Character Japanese
(before 1945)
(after 1945)
Character Japanese
(before 1945)
(after 1945)
臺北 Taihoku Taipei 嘉義 Kagi Chiayi
基隆 Kīrun Keelung 臺南 Tainan Tainan
新竹 Shinchiku Hsinchu 高雄 Takao Kaohsiung
臺中 Taichū Taichung 屏東 Heitō Pingtung
彰化 Shōka Changhua

The reform was based on the Laws on the City Formation (市組織法) of the Republic of China. This law was passed in the early 20th century. The criteria for being a provincial city included being the provincial capital as well as having a population of over 200,000, or over 100,000 if the city had particular significance in politics, economics, and culture. The division reform in 1945 had some compromises between the Japanese and the Chinese systems, some of the cities with population under the criteria were still be established as provincial cities.

ChiayiHsinchuKeelungPingtung CityKaohsiungTainanChiayiChanghuaTaichungHsinchuKeelungTaipei

After the government of the Republic of China relocated to Taipei, Taiwan in 1949, the population criterion for provincial cities was raised to 500,000 in the Guidelines on the Implementation of Local Autonomy in the Counties and Cities of Taiwan Province (臺灣省各縣市實施地方自治綱要), which was passed in 1981. It was later raised again to 600,000. Since the streamline of provinces in 1998, provincial cities are all directly under the central government, and are simply referred to as cities.

The People's Republic of China (PRC), which claims Taiwan as its 23rd province, has all of its provincial cities classified as county-level city.

Date Addition Removal No. Description
1945-10 Changhua, Chiayi, Hsinchu,
Kaohsiung, Keelung, Pingtung, Taichung, Tainan, Taipei[4]
9 Reorganised from the prefecture-administered cities in the period under Japanese rule.
1950-08-16 Chiayi 8 Merged into Chiayi County and became a county-administered city
1951-12-01 Changhua, Hsinchu, Pingtung 5 Downgraded to county-administered cities
1967-07-01 Taipei 4 Upgraded to a special municipality
1979-07-01 Kaohsiung 3 Upgraded to a special municipality
1982-07-01 Chiayi, Hsinchu 5 Upgraded from county-administered cities
2010-12-25 Taichung, Tainan 3 Merge with Taichung County and Tainan County, and upgraded to special municipalities
Current cities: Chiayi, Hsinchu, Keelung (3).

Current cities

See also: List of administrative divisions of Taiwan and List of magistrates and mayors in Taiwan

Currently, the Local Government Act of the Ministry of the Interior applies for the creation of a city, in which a city needs to have a population between 500,000 and 1,250,000 and occupies major political, economical and cultural roles.[5] Note that all three existing cities are not qualified for the population test, they were built for historical reasons.

There are currently three cities, all in Taiwan Province:

Name[6] Chinese Hànyǔ
Wade–Giles Tongyòng
Area City Seat Establishment
Chiayi 嘉義市 Jiāyì Chia¹-i⁴ Jiayì Ka-gī Kâ-ngi 60.03 km2 East District 東區 1982-07-01
Hsinchu 新竹市 Xīnzhú Hsin¹-chu² Sinjhú Sin-tek Sîn-chuk 104.10 km2 North District 北區 1982-07-01
Keelung 基隆市 Jīlóng Chi¹-lung² Jilóng Ke-lâng Kî-lùng 132.76 km2 Zhongzheng District 中正區 1945-10-25

Their self-governed bodies (executive and legislature) regulated by the Local Government Act are:

Name Executive Legislature
Government Mayor Current Mayor City Council No. of seats
Chiayi Chiayi City Government Mayor of Chiayi Huang Min-hui Chiayi City Council 24
Hsinchu Hsinchu City Government Mayor of Hsinchu Ann Kao Hsinchu City Council 33
Keelung Keelung City Government Mayor of Keelung George Hsieh Keelung City Council 32

See also

Overview of administrative divisions of the Republic of China
Republic of China
Free area[i] Mainland area[ii]
Special municipalities[α][iii] Provinces[iv] Not administered[v]
Counties[α] Autonomous municipalities[α][vi]
Districts[β] Mountain
Townships[α][β][vii] Districts[β]
  1. ^ a b c d e f Has an elected executive and an elected legislative council.
  2. ^ a b c Has an appointed district administrator for managing local affairs and carrying out tasks commissioned by superior agency.
  3. ^ Has an elected village administrator for managing local affairs and carrying out tasks commissioned by superior agency.


  1. ^ Also known as the Taiwan area or Tai–Min area (Chinese: 臺閩地區; lit. 'Taiwan–Fujian area')
  2. ^ The mainland area consists of Mainland China, Tibet and (previously) Outer Mongolia
  3. ^ Special municipalities, cities, and county-administered cities are all called shi (Chinese: ; lit. 'city')
  4. ^ Nominal; provincial governments have been abolished
  5. ^ Constitutionally having the same structure as the free area, these are currently under the Chinese Communist Party control with a different structure
  6. ^ Sometimes called cities (Chinese: ) or provincial cities (Chinese: 省轄市) to distinguish them from special municipalities and county-administered cities
  7. ^ There are two types of townships: rural townships or xīang (Chinese: ) and urban townships or zhèn (Chinese: )
  8. ^ Villages in rural townships are known as cūn (Chinese: ), those in other jurisdictions are known as (Chinese: )

Words in native languages

  1. ^ a b


  1. ^ "POLITICAL SYSTEM". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. March 28, 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Local governments". Office of the President Republic of China (Taiwan). Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  3. ^ Sarah Shair-Rosenfield (November 2020). "Taiwan combined" (PDF). The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  4. ^ Chao, Yung-Mao (January–February 2011). "Taiwan Review - Rezoning Taiwan". Taiwan Review. Archived from the original on 2014-03-30. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  5. ^ "Local Government Act". Laws & Regulations Database of The Republic of China (Taiwan). 25 May 2022. Retrieved 28 December 2023.
  6. ^ "Glossary of Names for Admin Divisions" (PDF). Taiwan Geographic Names Information Systems. The Ministry of Interior of ROC. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 August 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2015.