Administrative divisions of the Republic of China

Administrative divisions of the Republic of China
This article is part of
a series on the
Administrative divisions
of the Republic of China
In effect
1st Provinces
(省 shěng)
Special municipalities
(直轄市 zhíxiáshì)
2nd Counties
(縣 xiàn)
Provincial cities
(市 shì)
3rd Districts
(區 qū)
County-controlled cities
(縣轄市 xiànxiáshì)
Urban townships
(鎮 zhèn)
Rural townships
(鄉 xiāng)
4th Urban villages
(里 lǐ)
Rural villages
(村 cūn)
5th Neighborhoods
(鄰 lín)

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The Republic of China (ROC), commonly known as Taiwan, currently governs Taiwan Area, consists of four main island groups of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and some minor islands. The whole country divided into two streamlined provinces[1] (Taiwan and Fujian) and five special municipalities (Kaohsiung, New Taipei, Taichung, Tainan and Taipei); the two streamlined provinces further subdivided into 3 provincial cities and 14 counties.

Since Taiwan province was streamlined in 1997, all 5 special municipalities, 3 provincial cities and 14 counties are directly under the central government (i.e., Executive Yuan).



Early years

The Republic of China was founded on Mainland China, following most of the administrative areas from Qing Dynasty, but divided Inner Mongolia into four provinces, and setup few couples of Yuan-controlled municipalities. After the World War II in 1945, Manchuria was reincorporated into the Republic of China as 9 provinces. Taiwan and the Pescadores was also returned to the Republic of China and was organized into Taiwan Province. By this time the top-level divisions was a total of 35 Provinces, 12 Yuan-controlled municipalities, one Special administrative region and Two Regions (Mongolia and Tibet).

Government on Taiwan

After its loss of mainland China to the Communist Party of China in the Chinese Civil War and its retreat to Taiwan in 1949. The jurisdiction of the ROC was restricted to only Taiwan, the Pescadores, and a few offshore islands of Fukien, which also called the "Free Area of the Republic of China" in the Constitution. In most ordinary legislation, the term "Taiwan Area" is used in place of the "Free Area", while Mainland China is referred to as the "Mainland Area".

The Kuomintang (KMT) continued to regard the Republic of China as the sole legitimate government of China, so the published divisions still includes whole the territory of the ROC government's claim, including mainland China and Outer Mongolia, which kept in place to validate its claim as the legal government of China.

Maps of China and the world published in Taiwan sometimes show provincial and national boundaries as they were in 1949, not matching the current administrative structure as decided by the Communist Party of China post-1949 and including outer Mongolia, northern Burma, and Tannu Uriankhai (part of which is present-day Tuva in Russia) as part of China (territories over which the PRC has renounced sovereignty). In the meantime, the Republic of China has not recognized any of the changes made to the administrative structure of the mainland, and has never retracted its claim to mainland China and Outer Mongolia. Accordingly, the official first-order divisions of Republic of China remain the historical divisions of China immediately prior to the loss of mainland China.

The ROC government also made some changes in the area under its control, two more municipalities have been set up in Taiwan (Taipei in 1967, Kaohsiung in 1979), the number of municipalities becomes 14. And the provincial governments of Fujian and Taiwan have been largely streamlined, since 1949 and 1998, respectively. As the final version of division list in 2005[2], The political divisions of the ROC becomes: 35 provinces, 1 special administrative region, 2 Regions (Tibet and Outer Mongolia), 14 special municipalities, 14 leagues, and 4 special banners. For second-order divisions, under provinces and special administrative regions, there are counties, provincial cities (56), bureaus (34) and management bureaus (7). Under provincial-level municipalities there are districts, and under leagues there are banners (127).

Recent changes

Since 2005, the ROC government stops its claim to the divisions of mainland China (but still claims Sovereignty).[3] There are two provinces (Taiwan and Fukien) and two special municipalities (Taipei and Kaohsiung). In 2010, New Taipei, Taichung and Tainan are upgraded to special municipalities.

Recently, the government states the top-level divisions of ROC should be two streamlined provinces, five special municipalities, fourteen counties and three provincial cities.[4]

Special considerations

Streamline of Provinces

Since 1949, the most controversial part of the political division system of the ROC has been the existence of the Taiwan Province, as its existence was part of a larger controversy over the political status of Taiwan. Since 1997, most of the Taiwan provincial government's duties and powers have been transferred to the national government of the Republic of China in the constitutional changes. The much smaller Fujian province consisting of Kinmen and Matsu, on the other hand, had most of its authority passed off to its two counties.

Joint Service Centers of Executive Yuan

The central government operates three regional Joint Service Centers (區域聯合服務中心) outside Taipei as outposts of the government ministries in the Executive Yuan, similar to the cross-departmental mode of working in the Government Offices in England. These regions, laid out the Comprehensive National Spatial Development Plan for Taiwan (臺灣地區國土綜合開發計劃), can be considered a de facto level of government, perhaps equivalent to de jure provinces or similar to the English regions. There is one regional service center for each of the Southern Taiwan Region (with the center in Kaohsiung), the Central Taiwan Region (Taichung), and the Eastern Taiwan Region (Hualien). The Northern Taiwan Region is served by Taipei, the central government's administrative headquarters and de facto capital.


There has been some criticism of the current administrative scheme as being inefficient and inconducive to regional planning. In particular, most of the administrative cities are much smaller than the actual metropolitan areas, and there are no formal means for coordinating policy between an administrative city and its surrounding areas.

Before 2008, the likelihood of consolidation was low. Many of the cities had a political geography which were very different from their surrounding counties, making the prospect of consolidation highly politically charged. For example, while the Kuomintang argued that combining Taipei City, Taipei County, and Keelung City into a metropolitan Taipei region would allow for better regional planning, the Democratic Progressive Party argued that this is merely an excuse to eliminate the government of Taipei County, which it had at times controlled, by swamping it with votes from Taipei City and Keelung City, which tended to vote Kuomintang.

On 1 October 2007, per legislation newly coming into force, Taipei County was upgraded to become a quasi-municipality (準直轄市) on the same level as Kaohsiung City and Taipei City.[5] It is allowed the organizational and budgetary framework of a de jure municipality, but is still formally styled as a county. The Taichung County and City were also lobbying the central government for a similar status. Following the example of Taipei County, Taoyuan County is also set to be upgraded to a quasi-municipality on 1 January 2011, on the condition that its population stays above 2 million at the date of elevation.[6]

President Ma Ying-jeou of Kuomintang in his 2008 election campaign platform advocated for a rearrangement of three municipalities and 15 counties. Since his inauguration, his administration had started to prepare for this.[7] At the end of this process, proposals for the following were approved by the Ministry of the Interior on 23 June 2009: promotion of Taipei County to become the city of New Taipei awaiting further merger with Taipei Municipality and Keelung City, the merger of Kaohsiung Municipality and County, and the merger of the City and County to form a promoted Taichung Municipality.[8] In the same meeting, the merger of the City and County of Tainan was referred to the Cabinet (Executive Yuan). This merger and promotion proposal was finally approved on 29 June 2009 to give the Tainan Municipality (臺南市).[9] All these re-arrangements were finally carried out on 25 December 2010.

Re-organization on 25 December 2010

Proposals for ROC municipalities and counties

Proposals Changes June 2009
Population - Combine
Current Area
(km²) - Combine
Map (before) Map (after)
2-A Hsinchu City + Hsinchu County = Hsinchu County
(新竹市 + 新竹縣 = 新竹縣)
915,012 1,531.6864 Taiwan ROC political division map Hsinchu City.svg Taiwan ROC political division map Hsinchu County.svg Taiwan ROC political division map Hsinchu City (propose).svg
2-B Chiayi City + Chiayi County = Chiayi County
(嘉義市 + 嘉義縣 = 嘉義縣)
821,721 1,961.6956 Taiwan ROC political division map Chiayi City.svg Taiwan ROC political division map Chiayi County.svg Taiwan ROC political division map Chiayi City (propose).svg
2-C Taipei City + New Taipei City + Keelung City = Taipei City
(臺北市 + 新北市 + 基隆市 = 臺北市)
6,854,715 2,457.1244 Taiwan ROC political division map Taipei City.svg Taiwan ROC political division map Taipei County.svg Taiwan ROC political division map Keelung City.svg Taiwan ROC political division map Taipei City (propose).svg

Structural hierarchy

Taiwan ROC political divisions labeled.svg

The number at the end are the amount of entities as of December 31, 2010:

Level 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
Special municipality
(直轄市 zhíxiáshì) (5)
(區 qū) (157)
(里 lǐ)
(鄰 lín)
(省 shěng) (2)
Provincial city
(市 shì) (3)
(縣 xiàn) (14)
County-controlled city
(縣轄市 xiànxiáshì) (17)
Urban Township
(鎮 zhèn) (41)
Rural Township
(鄉 xiāng) (153)
(村 cūn)
Total 22 368 7,835 147,877
  1. Since the provinces are streamlined, the special municipalities usually counted with provincial cities and counties.
  2. In Chinese, all special municipalities, provincial cities, and county-controlled cities are all referred to as 市 (shì) in their full official names.
  3. Sometimes provincial cities are called 省轄市 shěngxiáshì to distinguished from the other two types.

Under the ROC administrative scheme, some cities and counties may share the same name, but are independent administrations, this happens in Chiayi City and Chiayi County, Hsinchu City and Hsinchu County. Generally, special municipalities have the largest administrative area of all three levels of cities, then provincial cities, and finally county-controlled cities, in that order.

Special municipalities

Special municipalities (Chinese: 直轄市; pinyin: zhíxiáshì) are one of top-level divisions in the Republic of China (Taiwan), directly governed by the Executive Yuan. In the laws, a place gathered more than 1.25 million residents and with political, economical or cultural importance may become a special municipality.

Provincial cities

Provincial cities (Chinese: ; pinyin: shì), are cities lesser in rank than special municipalities; formerly governed by the provinces, after the provinces are streamlined they directly governed by the Executive Yuan. In the laws, a place gathered residents between 0.5 million and 1.25 million and with political, economical or cultural importance may become a provincial city.

  • Recently there are three provincial cities in Taiwan, namely Chiayi City, Hsinchu City and Keelung City.


Counties (Chinese: ; pinyin: xiàn), are one of administrative divisions under provinces; formerly governed by the provinces, after the provinces are streamlined they directly governed by the Executive Yuan. In ROC laws, a county with more than two million residents can acquire some status equal to a special municipality. Taipei County had used this rule since October 2007 until elevated to New Taipei City in December 2010; while this rule also applied to Taoyuan County from 2011.

  • Recently there are 14 counties in the ROC, 11 counties located mainly in the island of Taiwan.
  • Penghu County administered Penghu Islands (Pescadores Islands).
  • Kinmen County administered Kinmen Islands and Wuqiu Islands.
  • Lienchiang County administered Matsu Islands.

Lower-level governance structures

The 22 main subjects in the country are further divided into 368 subdivisions. A County may divided into rural townships (Chinese: ; pinyin: xiāng), urban townships (Chinese: ; pinyin: zhèn) and county-controlled cities (Chinese: 縣轄市; pinyin: xiànxiáshì). In the laws, a place gathered more than 150 thousand residents may become a county-controlled cities. Special municipalities and provincial cities are divided into districts (Chinese: ; pinyin: ).

  • The 368 subdivisions may classified into: 157 districts, 17 county-controlled cities, 41 urban townships and 153 rural townships.
  • The 368 subdivisions are divided into 7,835 villages, and to 147,877 neighborhoods.

List of divisions

No. Romanization Chinese Hanyu Pinyin Population Area (km2) City/County Seat Map
     Special municipalities (直轄市)
Subdivision types of the Republic of China (2010).svg
1 Kaohsiung City 高雄市 Gāoxióng shì 2,773,483 2,946.2671 Lingya District
Fengshan District
2 New Taipei City 新北市 Xīnběi shì 3,897,367 2,052.5667 Banqiao District 板橋區
3 Taichung City 臺中市
Táizhōng shì 2,648,419 2,214.8968 Xitun District 西屯區
4 Tainan City 臺南市
Táinán shì 1,873,794 2,191.6531 Anping District
Xinying District
5 Taipei City 臺北市
Táiběi shì 2,618,772 271.7997 Xinyi District 信義區
     Provincial cities ()
6 Chiayi City 嘉義市 Jiāyì shì 272,390 60.0256 East District 東區
7 Hsinchu City 新竹市 Xīnzhú shì 415,344 104.1526 North District 北區
8 Keelung City 基隆市 Jīlóng shì 384,134 132.7589 Zhongzheng District 中正區
     Counties ()
9 Changhua County 彰化縣 Zhānghuà xiàn 1,307,286 1,074.3960 Changhua City 彰化市
10 Chiayi County 嘉義縣 Jiāyì xiàn 543,248 1,903.6367 Taibao City 太保市
11 Hsinchu County 新竹縣 Xīnzhú xiàn 513,015 1,427.5369 Zhubei City 竹北市
12 Hualien County 花蓮縣 Huālián xiàn 338,805 4,628.5714 Hualien City 花蓮市
13 Miaoli County 苗栗縣 Miáolì xiàn 560,968 1,820.3149 Miaoli City 苗栗市
14 Nantou County 南投縣 Nántóu xiàn 526,491 4,106.4360 Nantou City 南投市
15 Penghu County 澎湖縣 Pénghú xiàn 96,918 126.8641 Magong City 馬公市
16 Pingtung County 屏東縣 Píngdōng xiàn 873,509 2,775.6003 Pingtung City 屏東市
17 Taitung County 臺東縣
Táidōng xiàn 230,673 3,515.2526 Taitung City 臺東市
18 Taoyuan County 桃園縣 Táoyuán xiàn 2,002,060 1,220.9540 Taoyuan City 桃園市
19 Yilan County 宜蘭縣 Yílán xiàn 460,486 2,143.6251 Yilan City 宜蘭市
20 Yunlin County 雲林縣 Yúnlín xiàn 717,653 1,290.8326 Douliu City 斗六市
21 Kinmen County 金門縣 Jīnmén xiàn 97,364 151.6560 Jincheng Township 金城鎮
22 Lienchiang County 連江縣 Liánjiāng xiàn 9,944 28.8000 Nangan Township 南竿鄉


The romanization used for ROC placenames above the county level is a modified form of Wade-Giles, ignoring the apostrophes and hyphens of the original, thus yielding "Taipei" instead of "T'ai-pei" and "Yilan" instead of "I-lan", for example. Some postal map romanizations also exist, like "Keelung" and "Kinmen". In 2002, Tongyong Pinyin was adopted to be the national standard of Chinese romanizations. Most townships and county-controlled cities are romanized in this way at this time. However, some local administrations, like Taipei and Taichung decided to use Hanyu Pinyin. In 2009, Tongyong Pinyin was replaced by Hanyu Pinyin as the ROC government standard.[10][11] Recently, Most of the divisions are romanized by Hanyu Pinyin system, but some local government still use Tongyong Pinyin as well, like Kaohsiung. In 2011, the ROC minister of the Interior restored historical romanizations for two towns, Lukang and Tamsui, which developed in early times.

See also

  • History of the Republic of China
  • Political divisions of Taiwan (1895-1945)
  • Lists of Republic of China administrative divisions: by area · by population · by population density
  • ISO 3166-2:TW


External links

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