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Administrative divisions of Taiwan

Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), is divided into multi-layered statutory subdivisions.[1] Due to the complex political status of Taiwan, there is a significant difference in the de jure system set out in the original constitution and the de facto system in use today.

Constitutionally, the ROC is divided into provinces and special municipalities, with each province subdivided into cities and counties. The provinces have been "streamlined" and are no longer functional.[2] The Local Government Act further divides counties, cities and special municipalities into smaller divisions.

There are currently 22 sub-national divisions, each with a local government led by an elected head and a legislative council. 13 of them are counties, further divided into smaller divisions which also have elected heads of government and legislative councils. The other nine are divided into districts which have less autonomy than their counterparts in counties.




In 1945, after the World War II, the Republic of China acquired Taiwan (Formosa) and Penghu (the Pescadores) from the Empire of Japan. In 1949, the government of the Republic of China led by the Kuomintang lost the Chinese Civil War and retreated to Taipei, Taiwan. The government lost almost all its jurisdiction over mainland China, with only some offshore islands remaining. This history gives two different sources of the current Taiwanese administrative divisions on the Free area of the Republic of China or Taiwan Area.

Changes to divisionsEdit

Since 1949, the government has made some changes in the area under its control. The two provincial governments were downscaled and much of their functions transferred to the central or county governments. Six special municipalities have been created.

Since 1949, the most controversial part of the political division system has been the existence of Taiwan Province, as its existence was part of a larger controversy over the political status of Taiwan. Since 1998, most of the duties and powers of Taiwan Provincial Government have been transferred to the central government, through amendments to the constitution. The much smaller Fukien province, Fujian Provincial Government has been downsized since 1956.

There has been some criticism of the current administrative scheme as being inefficient and not conducive 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 political demographics 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 was 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, Taipei County was upgraded to a quasi-municipality (準直轄市) on the same level as Kaohsiung City and Taipei City.[3] This allowed the county to have the organizational and budgetary framework of a de jure municipality, but it was still formally styled as a county. Taichung County and Tainan City lobbied the central government for similar status. Taoyuan County was also upgraded to a quasi-municipality on 1 January 2011, as its population was above 2 million on the date of elevation.[4]

Under President Ma Ying-jeou's administration, the central government has reorganized more counties and cities.[5] Four mergers and promotions were approved in 2009 and became effective on 25 December 2010 and one more became effective in 25 December 2014.[6][7]

The summary of changes on administrative divisions are shown below

Name Notes
Fujian Province The provincial capital was moved from Fuzhou to Jincheng, Kinmen in 1949. The provincial government was downscaled in 1956.
Taiwan Province The provincial capital was moved from Taipei to Zhongxing New Village in 1956. The provincial government was downscaled in 1998.
Kaohsiung City Formerly a provincial city, elevated to a special municipality in 1979. In 2010, a new Kaohsiung special municipality was established by merging former Kaohsiung County with the existing Kaohsiung City.
New Taipei City Formerly Taipei County, elevated to a special municipality in 2010.
Taichung City Elevated to a special municipality by merging Taichung City and Taichung County in 2010.
Tainan City Elevated to a special municipality by merging Tainan City and Tainan County in 2010.
Taipei City Formerly a provincial city, elevated to a special municipality in 1967.
Taoyuan City Formerly Taoyuan County, elevated to a special municipality in 2014.

This brought the top-level divisions of Taiwan (ROC) to its current state: 2 nominal provinces without administrative function and 6 special municipalities; and under the provinces, 13 counties and three cities.[8]

Administrative divisionsEdit

Structural hierarchy of central and local governmentsEdit

Executive Yuan


  1. Since the provinces are streamlined, special municipalities are usually counted with cities and counties.
  2. In Chinese, all special municipalities, cities, and county-administered cities have the word "shì" (市, "city") in their full official names.
  3. Cities are sometimes called provincial cities (省轄市, shěngxiáshì) to distinguish them from the other two types of cities.
  4. Under the administrative scheme, some cities and counties may share the same name but are independent administrations; this occurs with Chiayi City and Chiayi County, and Hsinchu City and Hsinchu County.

Special municipalities, cities and countiesEdit

Currently there are three types and in total 22 administrative divisions are directly governed by the central government (Executive Yuan). According to the Local Government Act of Taiwan, a place with population more than 1.25 million may become a special municipality, a place with population between 0.5 and 1.25 million may become a city. Counties with population more than 2 million may grant some extra privileges in local autonomy that was designed for special municipalities.

Name Chinese Pinyin Pe̍h-ōe-jī Count
    Special municipality 直轄市 zhíxiáshì ti̍t-hat-chhī 6
    City shì chhī 3
    County xiàn koān 13

These 22 divisions are also regulated by the Local Government Act as local self-governance bodies. Each division has its own executive called "city/county government" and own legislature called "city/county council". The city mayors, county magistrates and all legislators are elected by the people under its jurisdiction every four years. Geographically,

  • Six special municipalities, three provincial cities and 10 counties are on the main island of Taiwan
Special municipalities Provincial cities Counties
Kaohsiung City
New Taipei City
Taichung City
Tainan City
Taipei City
Taoyuan City
Chiayi City
Hsinchu City
Keelung City
Changhua County
Chiayi County
Hsinchu County
Hualien County
Miaoli County
Nantou County
Pingtung County
Taitung County
Yilan County
Yunlin County

Townships, county-administered cities and districtsEdit

The 22 main divisions in the country are further divided into 368 subdivisions. These 368 divisions can be categorized as the following.

Name Chinese Pinyin Pe̍h-ōe-jī Administered by Self-gov. No.
Mountain indigenous township 山地鄕 shāndì xiāng soaⁿ-tē hiong County Yes 24
Rural township xiāng hiong County Yes 122
Urban township zhèn tìn County Yes 38
County-administered city 縣轄市 xiànxiáshì koān-hat-chhī County Yes 14
Mountain indigenous district 原住民區 yuánzhùmín qū gôan-chū-bîn khu Special municipality Yes 6
District khu Special municipality
No 164

According to the Local Government Act, a county is divided into townships and county-administered cities. The county seat or place with population between 100,000 and 500,000 may become a county-administered city. A special municipality or a city is divided into districts.

The townships, county-administered cities in counties, and mountain indigenous district in special municipalities are also local self-governance bodies. Each division has its own executive called "township/city/district office" and own legislature called "township/city/district council". The city mayors, township/district chiefs and all legislators are elected by the people under its jurisdiction every four years. The normal districts in special municipalities and cities are governed as branches of the municipality/city government and do not hold any local self-governance power.

The mountain indigenous township and districts are created for its significant population of Taiwanese aborigines, in these divisions, only Taiwanese aborigines may be elected to be the township/district chiefs.

Lower-level administrative divisionsEdit

The 368 divisions are further divided into villages and to neighborhoods.

Name Chinese Pinyin Pe̍h-ōe-jī Administered by No.
Rural village cūn chhun Mountain indigenous township
Rural township
Urban village Urban township
County-controlled city
Mountain indigenous district
Neighborhood lín lîn Rural village
Urban village

The village chiefs are elected by the people under its jurisdiction every four years. The neighborhood chiefs are appointed by the village chief.

Other issuesEdit

Joint Service Centers of Executive YuanEdit

The central government operates five regional Joint Service Centers (JSC, 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 former 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 the English regions or the federal districts of Russia.

Name Chinese Date of creation Service area
Southern Taiwan JSC 南部聯合服務中心 Jun. 1, 1998 Kaohsiung, Penghu, Pingtung
Central Taiwan JSC 中部聯合服務中心 May 14, 2003 Changhua, Miaoli, Nantou, Taichung
Eastern Taiwan JSC 東部聯合服務中心 Sep. 29, 2007 Hualien, Taitung
Yunlin-Chiayi-Tainan JSC 雲嘉南區聯合服務中心 Mar. 27, 2012 Chiayi (city and county), Tainan, Yunlin
Kinmen-Matsu JSC 金馬聯合服務中心 Jan. 18, 2017 Kinmen, Lienchiang

The divisions of northern Taiwan are not covered by any JSC, including Hsinchu (city and county), Keelung, New Taipei, Taipei, Taoyuan and Yilan. They are served directly by the headquarter of Executive Yuan in Taipei.


The romanization used for Taiwanese 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 romanizations also exist, like "Keelung" and "Kinmen". In 2002, the ROC adopted Tongyong Pinyin as its national standard for romanization. Most townships and county-controlled cities changed their romanization to Tongyong Pinyin at that 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.[9][10] Currently, most of the divisions are romanized by Hanyu Pinyin system, but some local governments still use Tongyong Pinyin, like Kaohsiung. In 2011, the ROC Ministry of the Interior restored historical romanizations for two towns, Lukang and Tamsui.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hwang, Jim (October 1999). "Gone with the Times". Taiwan Review. Archived from the original on 2012-02-26. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
  2. ^ "Taiwan Provincial Government Official Website". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  3. ^ 歷時28年 臺北縣今升格為準直轄市 [After 28 years, Taipei County today is promoted to quasi-municipality status]. 國立教育廣播電台新聞. 2007-10-01. Archived from the original on 2008-01-27. Retrieved 2016-07-04.
  4. ^ 升格為準直轄市 / 元旦改制日 桃園人口須維持200萬). Liberty Times. 2010-12-07.
  5. ^ 三都十五縣 馬指示漸進推動 [Ma directs gradual progression towards 3 municipalities and 15 counties]. Liberty Times. 2008-12-27. Archived from the original on June 22, 2009.
  6. ^ 縣市升格 北中高過關 南縣市補考 [Promotion of Cities and Counties: Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung approved; Tainan awaits further examination]. Liberty Times. 2009-06-24. Archived from the original on June 24, 2009.
  7. ^ 臺灣再添直轄市. Wikinews. 2009-06-29.
  8. ^ 中華民國國情簡介 政府組織 Archived 2012-05-14 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Hanyu Pinyin to be standard system in 2009". Taipei Times. 2008-09-18.
  10. ^ "Gov't to improve English-friendly environment". The China Post. 2008-09-18. Archived from the original on 2008-09-19.

External linksEdit