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|Administrative divisions of the
People's Republic of China
This article is part
of the series:
Political divisions of China
|Special Administrative Regions|
|(incl. Sub-provincial cities)|
|(incl. Sub-prefecture-level cities)|
A province, in the context of China, is a translation of Sheng (Chinese: 省; pinyin: Shěng), which is an administrative division of China. The equivalent in some Muslim countries is a wilayah. Together with municipalities and autonomous regions, provinces make up the first level (known as the province level) of administrative division in mainland China. The Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau are often said to be province-level as well, though in reality they have much more autonomy than regular provinces, autonomous regions, or municipalities.
The People's Republic of China currently administers 22 provinces, out of a total of 33 province level divisions, and claims, but does not administer, the 23rd province of Taiwan. The Republic of China on Taiwan administers and controls the entirety of Taiwan, as well as some offshore islands, including Kinmen and Matsu (administered under the ROC province of Fujian), very near to Fujian province of the People's Republic of China (PRC), as well as the capital city of Taipei and the municipality of Kaohsiung.
In the People's Republic of China (PRC), every province has a Communist Party of China provincial committee, headed by a secretary. The committee secretary is first-in-charge of the province, rather than the governor of the provincial government.
 Alternative meanings
 List and map
The provinces of China were first set up during the Yuan Dynasty. There were initially 10 provinces. By the time the Qing Dynasty was established, there were 18, all of which were in China proper. These were:
For every province, there was a Xunfu (governor, 巡撫), a political overseer on behalf of the emperor and a tidu (提督), a military governor. In addition, there was a zongdu (viceroy, 總督), a general military inspector or "governor general", for every two to three provinces.
Outer regions of China (those beyond "China proper") were not divided into provinces. Manchuria (consisting of Fengtian (now Liaoning), Jilin, Heilongjiang), Xinjiang, and Mongolia were overseen by military leaders or generals (將軍) and vice-dutong (副都統), and civilian leaders were heads of the leagues (盟長), a subdivision of Mongolia. Tibet was administratively overseen by the ambans (驻藏大臣).
In 1878, Xinjiang became a province, in 1909, Fengtian, Jilin, and Heilongjiang were made provinces as well. Taiwan was made a province in 1887, but it was ceded to Japan in 1895. As a result, there were 22 provinces in China (Outer China and China proper) near the end of the Qing Dynasty.
The Republic of China, established in 1912, set up 4 more provinces in Inner Mongolia and 2 provinces in historic Tibet, bringing the total to 28. 4 provinces were however lost with the establishment of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo in Manchuria. After the defeat of Japan in World War II, Manchuria was reincorporated as 10 provinces, and Taiwan was also returned to China. As a result, the Republic of China had 35 provinces. Although the Republic of China now only controls one province (Taiwan Province) and some islands of a second province (Fujian), it continues to claim (in theory at least) 35 provinces.
The People's Republic of China abolished many of the provinces in the 1950s and converted a number of them into autonomous regions. Hainan was set up as a separate province in 1988, bringing the total number of provinces to 22.
 Various facts about the provinces
- The largest province is Qinghai but also has the smallest population of just over 5.3 million.
- Eight of the provinces (excluding the Republic of China (Taiwan)) have a sea coast. The remaining 14 are land-locked.
- Guangdong, Shandong and Liaoning all have a major peninsula.
- Guangdong is the only province bordering the only two Special Administrative Region of China.
- Separated from Guangdong and established in 1988, Hainan is the youngest province of China.
- Aside from Hainan (which is not physically attached to any provinces), all provinces share borders with at least two or more provinces except for Heilongjiang.