Provinces of China // The Complete Guide to China’s 34 Divisions

The Provinces of China 🤔 How Many Are There And Who Are They?

China’s big, we know that much, but how is it broken down into smaller parts? What are they called and how many are there? Here’s our handy guide to all the provinces of China.

Let’s break it down simply, China is made up of:

  • 23 Provinces
  • 5 Autonomous Regions
  • 4 Municipalities
  • 2 Special Administrative Regions

All sounds like quite formal jargon doesn’t it, so let’s make this whole process nice and simple with our breakdown.

Chinese Provinces – The Full List

Chinese Provinces – China’s 23 Provinces

Chinese Provinces – The 5 Autonomous Regions

Chinese Provinces – The 4 Municipalities

Chinese Provinces – The 2 Special Administrative Regions

Chinese Provinces – Province Capital Cities

BONUS EXTRA – Chinese Province Quiz

Chinese Provinces – FAQ’s

China - Province Map

Provinces of China – The Full List

Below is the full list of provinces in China.

The provincial level divisions in Chinese reads 省级行政区 shěngjí xíngzhèng qū.

Chinese Province in HanziChinese Province in PinyinAbbreviationType of Division
安徽ān huīAHProvince
北京běi jīngBJMunicipality
重庆chóng qìngCQMunicipality
福建fú jiànFJProvince
广东guǎng dōngGDProvince
广西guǎng xīGXAutonomous Region
甘肃gān sùGSProvince
贵州guì zhōuGZProvince
河南hé nánHA (HEN)Province
河北hé běiHB (HEB)Province
湖南hú nánHN (HUN)Province
湖北hú běiHB (HUB)Province
海南hǎi nánHIProvince
黑龙江hēi lóng jiāngHLProvince
吉林jí línJLProvince
江苏jiāng sūJSProvince
江西jiāng xīJXProvince
辽宁liáo níngLNProvince
内蒙古nèi méng gǔ aka Inner MongoliaNMAutonomous Region
宁夏níng xiàNXAutonomous Region
青海qīng hǎiQHProvince
四川sì chuānSCProvince
山东shān dōngSDProvince
山西shān xīSX (SAX)Province
陕西shǎan xīSN (SAA)Province
上海shàng hǎiSHMunicipality
天津tiān jīnTJMunicipality
新疆xīn jiāngXJAutonomous Region
西藏xī zàng aka TibetXZAutonomous Region
云南yún nánYNProvince
浙江zhè jiāngZJProvince
香港xiāng găngHKSpecial Administrative Region
台湾tái wānTWProvince
澳门ào ménMOSpecial Administrative Region

Provinces of China – The 23 Provinces

China has 23 provinces in total. Here are some facts about them:

  • The most populated province of China is Guangdong Province in the south of China, with over 100 million residents.
  • The least populated province of China is Qinghai Province, despite its rather large size, only has just over 5 million residents.
  • The largest province of China by area, oddly, is the least populated – Qinghai!
    • It’s worth noting that when you include all 34 divisions the biggest is Xinjiang.
Provinces of China

Qinghai comes in at 722,000 square kilometres, Xinjiang at 1,664,000 square kilometres.

  • The smallest province of China by area is its most southern point, the island of Hainan.
    • Hainan comes in at a minuscule 34,000 square kilometres.

If you include all 34 divisions once again, the result changes. Macau is a tiny 31 square kilometres making it bar far the smallest of the 34 divisions.

To put that into perspective, the next one on the list, Hong Kong, is 1,108 square kilometres.

  • The richest province in China is Guangdong province, although the gap between the rich and the poor is huge.

QUICK FACT – Province in Chinese is 省 shěng

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Provinces of China – China’s 5 Autonomous Regions

So what’s an autonomous region?

Let’s take the Wikipedia definition for complete clarity:

Provinces of China

“An autonomous region is a first-level administrative division of China. Like Chinese provinces, an autonomous region has its own local government, but an autonomous region has more legislative rights. An autonomous region is the highest level of minority autonomous entity in China, which has a comparably higher population of a particular minority ethnic group.”

QUICK FACT – Autonomous Region in Chinese is 自治区 zìzhìqū

In total China has 5 Autonomous Regions which are:

  • Inner Mongolia (1947)
  • Xinjiang (1955)
  • Guangxi (1958)
  • Ningxia (1958)
  • Tibet (1965)

Given the fact the definition mentions that Autonomous Regions have a “higher population of a particular minority ethnic group” let’s cover those also:

Autonomous RegionEthnic MajorityRegion Population
Inner MongoliaMongol25 million
XinjiangUyghur22 million
GuangxiZhuang46 million
NingxiaHui6 million
TibetTibetan3 million

Interestingly though the ethnic group split side with Han Chinese in a number of these regions.

For example Inner Mongolia is actually almost 80% Han Chinese and only 17% are Mongol.

Tibet (93% Tibetan – 6% Han) and Xinjiang (45% Uyghur – 40% Han) are the only two areas of China where Han Chinese is NOT the most dominant ethnic group.

Provinces of China – China’s 4 Municipalities

Provinces of China

China’s 4 municipalities boast the highest level of classification for cities in China.

These cities are effectively provinces in their own right. They form part of the first tier of administrative divisions of China.

China’s 4 municipalities are:

  • Beijing
  • Shanghai
  • Chongqing
  • Tianjin

Years ago China actually nominated 11 cities with the title of municipality but in 1954, 11 of these were reduced to sub-provincial cities, and now as we stand, China has the four listed above.

CityPopulationArea
Beijing22 million16,801 km²
Shanghai26 million6,304 km²
Chongqing29 million82,300 km²
Tianjin13 million11,760 km²
The populations shown are the rural populations. Shanghai is the most populous city in China is we take just urban populations

QUICK FACT – Municipality in Chinese is ‎直辖市 zhí xiá shì

China’s Special Administrative Regions

China has a total of 2 Special Administrative Regions, Hong Kong and Macau, very closely located geographically.

Hong Kong and Macau are located towards the south of China, with Hong Kong bordering Shenzhen.

The details behind how SAR’s work are fairly complex, so let’s go back to our friend Wikipedia:

Chinese Provinces

“The special administrative regions (SAR) are one type of provincial-level administrative divisions of China directly under Central People’s Government. As a region, they possess the highest degree of autonomy in China. Despite the relative autonomy that the Central People’s Government affords special administrative regions, the National People’s Congress is still able to unilaterally write laws in secret for special administrative regions that are not read publicly until they are passed.”

Of course you’re probably well versed to the recent problems in Hong Kong, which related to the above quote.

Hong Kong and Macau (like Taiwan also) all have their own currencies.

These are the Hong Kong Dollar, The Macanese Pataca, and the New Taiwan Dollar.

SAR NamePopulationArea
Hong Kong7 million1,104km²
Macau600,00031.3km²

Hong Kong and Macau were former British and Portuguese colonies respectively, but were returned to China 1997 and 1999 respectively.

QUICK FACT – Special Administrative Region in Chinese is ‎特别行政区 tèbié xíngzhèngqū

Provinces of China – Capital Cities

As with any other country, each region or province has its own capital city.

Here is a list of the capital cities of each province in China.

Chinese ProvinceChinese Province in PinyinCapital CityCapital City in Pinyin
安徽ān huī合肥hé féi
北京běi jīng北京běi jīng
重庆chóng qìng重庆chóng qìng
福建fú jiàn福州fú zhōu
广东guǎng dōng广州guǎng zhōu
广西guǎng xī南宁nán níng
甘肃gān sù兰州lán zhōu
贵州guì zhōu贵阳guì yáng
河南hé nán郑州zhèng zhōu
河北hé běi石家庄shí jiā zhuāng
湖南hú nán长沙chǎng shā
湖北hú běi武汉wǔ hàn
海南hǎi nán海口hǎi kǒu
黑龙江hēi lóng jiāng哈尔滨hā’ěr bīn
吉林jí lín长春chǎng chūn
江苏jiāng sū南京nán jīng
江西jiāng xī南昌nán chāng
辽宁liáo níng沈阳shěn yáng
内蒙古nèi méng gǔ aka Inner Mongolia呼和浩特hū hé hào tè (Hohhot)
宁夏níng xià银川yín chuān
青海qīng hǎi西宁xī níng
四川sì chuān成都chéng dū
山东shān dōng济南jǐ nán
山西shān xī太原tài yuán
陕西shǎan xī西安xī’ān
上海shàng hǎi上海shàng hǎi
天津tiān jīn天津tiān jīn
新疆xīn jiāng乌鲁木齐wū lǔ mù qí (Urumqi)
西藏xī zàng aka Tibet拉萨lā sà (Lhasa)
云南yún nán昆明kūn míng
浙江zhè jiāng杭州háng zhōu
香港xiāng găng香港xiāng găng (Hong Kong)
台湾tái wān台北tái běi
澳门ào mén澳门ào mén (Macao)
Chinese provinces

PROVINCES OF CHINA – QUIZ

OK think you know your Provinces now? How about we put you to the test?

20 quick fire questions about the Provinces of China… how will you fare?

Results are instant, feel free to share your scores below also!

Welcome to the Chinese Provinces quiz! Enter your First name and email to begin. Don't worry you can unsubscribe at any time!

First Name
Email
Name the Chinese Province starting with 'A'
Name the Chinese Province starting with 'F'
What is the Chinese Municipality beginning with B?
How many Autonomous Regions are there in China?
Chǎng shā is the Capital City of which Province?
Wū lǔ mù qí is the Capital City of which Region?
Which Chinese Province starts with G and ends in G?
Which 5 letter Chinese Province starts with a G?
What is the Capital of Henan province?
What is the most Northern Chinese Province?
Name the Chinese Province starting with 'Y'
Which 8 letter Chinese Province starts with a L?
What is the most populated Province in China?
Name the Chinese province starting with 'Q'
Fú zhōu is the Capital City of which Province?
How many Chinese Provinces begin with an H?
Which Chinese Province starts with J and ends in I?
Which 6 letter Chinese Province starts with an H?
Name the Chinese Province starting with 'Zh'
What is the least populated Province in China?

Provinces of China – FAQ’s

How many provinces are there in China?

There are 23 provinces but to summarise that a little clearer, China has 34 divisions in total which are broken down like this:

23 Provinces

5 Autonomous Regions

4 Municipalities

2 Special Administrative Regions

What is the most populated province in China?

The most populated province of China is Guangdong Province in the south of China, with over 100 million residents.

What is the least populated province in China?

The least populated province of China is Qinghai Province, despite its rather large size, only has just over 5 million residents.

What are the two special administrative regions of China?

Hong Kong and Macau, which were former British and Portuguese colonies respectively, but were returned to China 1997 and 1999 respectively.

What are the four municipalities of China?

Beijing

Shanghai

Chongqing

Tianjin

What are the five autonomous regions of China?

Inner Mongolia (1947)

Xinjiang (1955)

Guangxi (1958)

Ningxia (1958)

Tibet (1965)

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