Municipality of China

From Academic Kids

This article is part
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Political divisions of China
Province level
Autonomous regions
Special Administrative Regions
Prefecture level
Autonomous prefectures
Prefecture-level cities
(incl. Sub-provincial cities)
County level
Autonomous counties
County-level cities
(incl. Sub-prefecture-level cities)
Autonomous banners
Township level
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District public offices

Direct-controlled municipalities are the highest-level cities in China, with status equal to that of the provinces. Geographically and culturally, many of the Chinese municipalities are enclaves in the middle of provinces. Some occur in strategic positions in between provinces. Current municipalities are: Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing of the People's Republic of China and Kaohsiung and Taipei of the Republic of China.

In Mainland China, municipalities can be quite large. All four municipalities extend far into the surrounding areas, encompassing towns, villages, farmland, hills, and other areas that are much larger than the urban area. The largest municipality. Chongqing, is larger in size than the smallest province, Hainan.

In Taiwan, municipalities are much smaller. For example, the urban area of Taipei municipality spills out of the borders of the municipality into Taipei County.

For information on the administrative structure of China and how municipalities fit within it, see political divisions of China, political divisions of the Republic of China.


The first municipalities were the 11 cities of Nanjing, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Qingdao, Chongqing, Xi'an, Guangzhou, Hankou (now part of Wuhan), Shenyang, and Harbin. They were established in 1927 soon after they were designated as "cities" during the 1920s. Nominally Dalian was a municipality as well, although it was under Japanese Occupation. These cities were first called special municipalities/cities (特別市), but were later renamed Yuan-controlled municipalities (院轄市), then direct-controlled municipalities (直轄市) by the Central Government. A few decades after the Kuomintang moved to Taiwan, they upgraded Taipei and Kaohsiung to municipalities.

After the Communist takeover of mainland China in 1949, Anshan, Benxi, and Fushun were made municipalities as well, while Qingdao, Shenyang, and Harbin were reduced to provincial municipalities. Hankou was merged to Wuhan. Hence there remained 12 municipalities in mainland China, until Dalian was elevated in 1950. In June 1952, Harbin was restored to municipality-status, along with Changchun. Except Beijing and Tianjin, which were under central control, all other municipalities were governed by the greater administrative areas.

In June 1954, 11 of the 14 municipalities were reduced to provincial municipalities; many of them became capitals of the provinces they were in. Only Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin were left, until Chongqing was restored in 1997. Tianjin was also temporarily reverted to the province-controlled status around the 1960s.

The first municipalities were created on Taiwan when Taipei was made a Yuan-controlled municipality in 1967. The same was done for Kaohsiung in 1979. They are the only two municipalities currently under the ROC administration. Since 1994, Yuan-controlled municipalities have been officially called direct-control municipalities to emphasize their autonomy. Besides significant political, economic, and cultural development, the ROC law dictates that a municipality must have population of over 1,250,000.

Position in hierarchy

Municipalities are the highest-ranked cities in China. Some cities of lower levels may also refer to themselves as municipalities in the English language. Wikipedia's translation, however, refers to them using the following conventional terms:

Three levels of cities in the People's Republic of China on Mainland China:

Three levels of cities in the Republic of China on Taiwan:

ja:直轄市 zh:直辖市


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