Population of Cities in China (2021)
The administrative divisions of China designate the cities into three levels. Provincial-level cities include municipalities and the country’s Special Administrative Regions, county-level cities and prefectural-level cities. China has a total of 662 cities that fall into these three categories, with Shanghai boasting the largest population with over 22 million residents as of 2016. The country has a total of 34 provinces that house its cities.
In total, China has over 160 cities that have a population of over 1 million people. China also has metropolitan areas that encapsulate densely populated urban areas with suburban areas and rural areas that are more sparsely populated. According to 2010 data, about 674 million people reside in one of China’s many rural areas.
Cities in China are broken down into tiers, particularly when they are being discussed in the media. These tiers are designated using set criteria, including population size, infrastructure and economic outlook. Tier I cities include the centrally-administrated municipalities of Shangahi, Tianjin, Chongqing and Beijing, each of which have a population exceeding 10 million. Tier II cities include the larger cities of China including but not limited to Guiyang, Nanjing and Qingdao. Tier III cities are not as developed as Tier II cities but many that fall into this category are considered to be economically significant. Tier IV and Tier V cities round out the majority of the country’s urban population.