List of cities in China by population

As of 2023, the five largest cities in China by population are Chongqing (31.91 million), Shanghai (24.87 million), Beijing (21.86 million), Chengdu (21.403 million) and Guangzhou (18.827 million).[1][2][3] As of 2021, there are 17 megacities[4][5] (cities with a population of over 10 million), including Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Xi'an, Suzhou, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Hangzhou, Linyi, Shijiazhuang, Dongguan, Qingdao and Changsha.[6]

Among them, the total permanent population of Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu is above 20 million.[7] Shanghai is China's most populous urban area,[8][9] while Chongqing is its largest city proper, the only city in China with the largest permanent population of over 30 million.[10]

As of 2020, there were 113 Chinese cities with over 1 million people in urban areas.[11]

Definition and classification


According to the administrative divisions of China, there are three major levels of cities, namely direct-administered municipalities (直辖市), prefecture-level cities (地级市), and county-level cities (县级市). Not included in this administrative classification list are the special administrative regions (特别行政区) of Hong Kong and Macau as well as the cities controlled by the Republic of China. Prefecture-level cities nearly always contain multiple counties (), county-level cities, and other such sub-divisions.

Municipalities and prefecture-level cities are not each a 'city' in the strictest sense of the term, but are, instead, an administrative unit comprising, typically, both the urban core (a city in the strict sense) and surrounding rural or less-urbanized areas.[12] The term "市区" (shì qū; "urban area") is used to distinguish a city's actual urban center from its administratively defined boundaries. However, even this term often encompasses large suburban regions, often greater than 3,000 square kilometres (1,000 sq mi), or sometimes only the urban core, whereas the agglomeration overtakes the city limits. Thus, the "urban core" would be roughly comparable to the American term "city limit", and the "shì qū", or "urban area", would be roughly comparable to a city's "metropolitan area." The municipality is a political designation defining regions under control of a municipal government, which has no comparable designation in America.

While in 2013 Chongqing had the largest population total of any special municipality, 28 million, only 4.5 million of the people were in the actual Chongqing urban area, with the remainder of the population in suburban and rural areas.[13]

List of major cities by population


The list contains all the cities with the administrative designation of "national central city" (国家中心城市) and "sub-provincial city" (副省级城市) – including five "cities with independent planning status" (计划单列市) and ten large "provincial capital cities" (省会城市), as well as some large "special economic zones" (经济特区城市), "open coastal cities" (沿海开放城市), and "prefecture-level cities" (地级市).[14] This list defines a city's population as the population of a city's urban population, rather than the entire population of its municipal boundaries.


National Capital City

# National Central City

* Provincial Capital City

~ Open Coastal City

Special Economic Zone

Direct-Administered Municipality
City with Independent Planning Status
Sub-Provincial City
Prefecture-Level City

Locations of the 50 most populous cities in mainland China


Cities and towns by population


China cities and towns by urban population (2020–2021)

See also



  1. ^ "Population Statistics 2023". National Bureau of Statistics of China. Retrieved 2024-06-16.
  2. ^ "Interpreting the changes in Chengdu's permanent population from three dimensions". Sichuan Provincial People's Government Website. March 25, 2024. Retrieved 2024-06-16.
  3. ^ "Population and ethnicity of Guangzhou 2023". Guangzhou Municipal People's Government. Retrieved 2024-06-16.
  4. ^ Maggie Hiufu Wong. "Megacities and more: A guide to China's most impressive urban centers". CNN. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  5. ^ 张洁. "Chongqing, Chengdu top new first-tier cities by population". China Daily. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  6. ^ "17 Chinese cities have a population of over 10 million in 2021". Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  7. ^ 孙迟. "China's inland rides waves of innovation, new opportunities". Retrieved 31 May 2022. Chengdu and Chongqing are now two of the only four cities (the other two are Beijing and Shanghai) in China with populations of more than 20 million.
  8. ^ Demographia (March 2013). Demographia World Urban Areas (PDF) (9th ed.). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 May 2013.
  9. ^ OECD Urban Policy Reviews: China 2015. OECD. 18 April 2015. p. 37. doi:10.1787/9789264230040-en. ISBN 9789264230033.
  10. ^ 2015年重庆常住人口3016.55万人 继续保持增长态势 (in Chinese). Chongqing News. 28 January 2016. Archived from the original on 29 January 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  11. ^ "Meet China's 113 Cities With More Than 1 Million People". Visual Capitalist. February 6, 2020.
  12. ^ Zhang, L.; Zhao, Simon X. B. (June 1998). "Re-examining China's "Urban" Concept and the Level of Urbanization". The China Quarterly. 154: 330–381. doi:10.1017/S030574100000206X. S2CID 154765152.
  13. ^ Stokols, Andrew (2013-11-22). "Why Chinese Cities Are Smaller Than They Appear". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2023-07-06.
  14. ^ "China: Provinces, Prefectures, Counties, Cities, Districts, Townships, Urban Areas – Population Statistics in Maps and Charts". Retrieved 2019-06-18.
  15. ^ "China: Provinces and Major Cities - Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather and Web Information". Retrieved 2023-11-15.
  16. ^ "China: Provinces and Major Cities – Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather and Web Information". Retrieved 2019-06-18.