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A special municipality (Chinese: 直轄市; pinyin: zhíxiáshì; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ti̍t-hat-chhī) is an administrative division unit in Taiwan. Under the administrative structure of Taiwan, it is the highest rank of division and is equivalent to a province. Since the streamlining of provinces in 1998, the special municipalities along with provincial cities and counties have all been directly under the central government. Currently there are six special municipalities in Taiwan: Kaohsiung, New Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, Taipei and Taoyuan.[1]

Special Municipality
Zhíxiáshì (Mandarin)
Chhṳ̍t-hot-sṳ (Hakka)
Subdivision types of the Republic of China (2014).svg
Special municipalities are shown in pink
CategoryUnitary state
Populations1,884,284 (Tainan) – 3,966,818 (New Taipei)
Areas1,137.5545 square miles (2,946.253 km2) (Taoyuan) – 104.9425 square miles (271.800 km2) (Kaohsiung)
GovernmentLocal government, Central Government



In late 1949, the government of the Republic of China lost the Chinese Civil War and was relocated to Taipei, Taiwan. At this time all the special municipalities established in mainland China were lost. There were no special municipalities under the government's effective jurisdiction.

In 1967, Taipei City, the first special municipality in Taiwan was created. Taipei served as the capital of the country starting in 1949 and was also the most populous city. Territory of the Taipei special municipality includes the original provincial Taipei City and 4 of its neighboring townships in Taipei County, including Neihu, Nangang, Muzha and Jingmei. In the next year, Shilin and Beitou of Yangmingshan Administrative Bureau (a county-equivalent administrative division) were also merged into Taipei.

In 1979, the major international port and industrial city in the southwest of the country — Kaohsiung — were also upgraded to a special municipality. Territory of the Kaohsiung special municipality includes the original provincial Kaohsiung City and Siaogang Township in Kaohsiung County.

At this time, Taiwan was under martial law. All national and municipal level elections were suspended. The mayors of Taipei and Kaohsiung were assigned by the Executive Yuan (central government), not by elections until 1994. For this reason the special municipalities were also called Yuan-controlled municipalities (Chinese: 院轄市; pinyin: yuànxiáshì) at this period.

Following the democratic reforms in the early 1990s, more thoughts of administrative division reform and reorganization were widely discussed. The Local Government Act (地方制度法) was passed by the Legislative Yuan (the Parliament) in 1999. This Act regulates the local self-governance bodies and came with some articles to deal with the possible changes of administrative divisions. In the Act also states that cities with population of over 1,250,000 and with significance on political, economic and cultural development may form a special municipality.

The 2007 amendment of Local Government Act states that a county or city with population over two million may grant some extra privileges in local autonomy that was designed for special municipalities. This type of counties are often called quasi-municipalities (準直轄市). Taipei County was the first division within this case. In 2009, another amendment of Local Government Act gave councils of counties and cities the right to file petitions to reform themselves into special municipalities. Four proposals were approved by the Executive Yuan in 2009

The four newly created special municipalities were formally established on December 25, 2010 with the inauguration of the new mayors.

In June 2010, the population of Taoyuan County also grew over 2 million and were qualified for being a quasi-municipality since 2011. The county government also sent a proposal to become a special municipality in 2012. Executive Yuan approved the proposal and the special municipality of Taoyuan were formally established on December 25, 2014.

Currently, there are in total six special municipalities under the central government. The special municipalities cover the top five most populous metropolitan areas in Taiwan and over two thirds (2/3) of the national population.

Municipality Metropolitan area Region
Kaohsiung Kaohsiung metropolitan area Southern Taiwan
New Taipei Taipei–Keelung metropolitan area Northern Taiwan
Taichung Taichung–Changhua metropolitan area Central Taiwan
Tainan Tainan metropolitan area Southern Taiwan
Taipei Taipei–Keelung metropolitan area Northern Taiwan
Taoyuan Taoyuan–Zhongli metropolitan area Northern Taiwan

Current Special MunicipalitiesEdit

There are currently six special municipalities:

Name Chinese Hànyǔ
Wade–Giles Tongyòng
Area (km²) City seat Date of
Kaohsiung 高雄市 Gāoxióng Kao¹-⁠hsiung² Gaosyóng Ko-hiông Kô-hiùng 2,779,790 2,946.2527 Lingya District
Fengshan District
1 July 1979
New Taipei 新北市 Xīnběi Hsin¹-pei³ Sinběi Sin-pak Sîn-pet 3,955,777 2,052.5667 Banqiao District 板橋區 25 December 2010
Taichung 臺中市 Táizhōng Tʻai²-chung¹ Táijhong Tâi-tiong Thòi-chûng 2,702,920 2,214.8968 Xitun District
Fengyuan District
25 December 2010
Tainan 臺南市 Táinán Tʻai²-nan² Táinán Tâi-lâm Thòi-nàm 1,883,251 2,191.6531 Anping District
Xinying District
25 December 2010
Taipei 臺北市 Táiběi Tʻai²-pei³ Táiběi Tâi-pak Thòi-pet 2,688,140 271.7997 Xinyi District 信義區 1 July 1967
Taoyuan 桃園市 Táoyuán Tʻao²-yüan² Táoyuán Thô-hn̂g Thò-yèn 2,092,977 1,220.9540 Taoyuan District 桃園區 25 December 2014

Their self-governed bodies (executive and legislature) regulated by the Local Government Act are:

Name Executive Legislature
Government Mayor Current Mayor City Council No. of seats
Kaohsiung Kaohsiung City Government Mayor of Kaohsiung Han Kuo-yu Kaohsiung City Council 66
New Taipei New Taipei City Government Mayor of New Taipei Hou You-yi New Taipei City Council 66
Taichung Taichung City Government Mayor of Taichung Lu Shiow-yen Taichung City Council 63
Tainan Tainan City Government Mayor of Tainan Huang Wei-cher Tainan City Council 57
Taipei Taipei City Government Mayor of Taipei Ko Wen-je Taipei City Council 63
Taoyuan Taoyuan City Government Mayor of Taoyuan Cheng Wen-tsan Taoyuan City Council 60

In Taiwanese municipalities, the mayor is the highest-ranking official in charge. The mayor is directly elected by the people registered in the municipality for a duration of four years.

See alsoEdit