Humanities › Geography Discover the 23 Provinces of China Hong Kong and Macau are not provinces Share Flipboard Email Print chokkicx / Getty Images Geography Country Information Basics Physical Geography Political Geography Population Key Figures & Milestones Maps Urban Geography By Amanda Briney Geography Expert M.A., Geography, California State University - East Bay B.A., English and Geography, California State University - Sacramento Amanda Briney, M.A., is a professional geographer. She holds a Certificate of Advanced Study in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from California State University. our editorial process Amanda Briney Updated July 29, 2019 In terms of area, China is the third largest country in the world, but it is the world's largest based on population. China is divided into 23 provinces, 22 of which are controlled by the People's Republic of China (PRC). The 23rd province, Taiwan, is claimed by the PRC, but it is not administered or controlled by the PRC, and is thus a de facto independent country. Hong Kong and Macau are not provinces of China, but are called special administrative areas. Hong Kong measures 427.8 square miles (1,108 square kilometers), with Macau at 10.8 square miles (28.2 square kilometers). The provinces are ordered here by land area and include capital cities. 01 of 23 Qinghai X Zhi Gu Yang Xi / EyeEm / Getty Images Area: 278,457 square miles (721,200 square kilometers)Capital: Xining The name of the province comes from Qinghai Hu or Koko Nor (blue lake), which sits about 10,500 feet (3,200 meters) above sea level. The region is known for horse breeding. 02 of 23 Sichuan © Philippe LEJEANVRE / Getty Images Area: 187,260 square miles (485,000 square kilometers)Capital: Chengdu The enormous 2008 earthquake killed some 90,000 people in the mountainous region, and wiped out entire towns. 03 of 23 Gansu Keren Su/China Span Area: 175,406 square miles (454,300 square kilometers)Capital: Lanzhou The Gansu Province includes some dramatic arid landscapes, including mountains, sand dunes, striped colorful rock formations, and a portion of the Gobi Desert. 04 of 23 Heilongjiang FRED DUFOUR / Getty Images Area: 175,290 square miles (454,000 square kilometers)Capital: Harbin Heilongjiang Province is prone to severe winters that last from five to eight months, with only 100 to 140 frost-free days per year and four months with temperatures higher than 50 F. Nonetheless, some crops, such as sugar beets and grains, do grow there. 05 of 23 Yunnan Suttipong Sutiratanachai / Getty Images Area: 154,124 square miles (394,000 square kilometers)Capital: Kunming The southwest China province of Yunnan is ethnically diverse, and each group has its own traditions and cuisine. Tiger Leaping Gorge was named a UNESCO World Heritage natural site. 06 of 23 Hunan Peter Stuckings / Getty Images Area: 81,081 square miles (210,000 square kilometers)Capital: Changsha The subtropical Hunan Province, known for its natural splendor, contains the Yangtze River on the north and is bordered by mountains to the south, east, and west. 07 of 23 Shaanxi China Photos / Getty Images Area: 79,382 square miles (205,600 square kilometers)Capital: Xi'an At the center of the country, Shaanxi history predates the earliest Chinese dynasties, as fossils of Lantian Man, from 500,000 to 600,000 years ago, have been found here. 08 of 23 Hebei zhouyousifang / Getty Images Area: 72,471 square miles (187,700 square kilometers)Capital: Shijiazhuang You’ll travel to Hebei Province to go to China’s capital, Beijing, and can see the Yan Mountains, with a portion of the Great Wall, the Hebei Plain, and the North China Plain. About half of the province is mountainous. 09 of 23 Jilin Anthony Mance / Getty Images Area: 72,355 square miles (187,400 square kilometers)Capital: Changchun The Jilin province borders Russia, North Korea, and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Jilin contains mountains, plains, and rolling hills in between. 10 of 23 Hubei Siewwy84 / Getty Images Area: 71,776 square miles (185,900 square kilometers)Capital: Wuhan The changes in the Yangtze River between summer and winter in this province are dramatic, with an average difference of 45 feet (14 meters), making it difficult to navigate in the winter when it’s shallowest. 11 of 23 Guangdong Zhonghui Bao / Getty Images Area: 69,498 square miles (180,000 square kilometers)Capital: Guangzhou People around the world recognize Cantonese cuisine, from Guangdong. The province is the country’s richest, as it contains many large urban centers, though the wealth gap between urban and rural in the region is wide. 12 of 23 Guizhou @ Didier Marti / Getty Images Area: 67,953 square miles (176,000 square kilometers)Capital: Guiyang China’s Guizhou Province sits on an eroded plateau that slopes steeply from the center to the north, east, and south. Thus, rivers here flow from it in three different directions. 13 of 23 Jiangxi Photo by Vincent Ting / Getty Images Area: 64,479 square miles (167,000 square kilometers)Capital: Nanchang The name of the Jiangxi Province literally translates to “west of the river,” meaning the Yangtze, but it actually is south of it. 14 of 23 Henan Daniel Hanscom / Getty Images Area: 64,479 square miles (167,000 square kilometers)Capital: Zhengzhou Henan Province is the most populous in China. Its Huang He (Yellow) River, which is 3,395 miles (5,464 kilometers) long, has caused some of the deadliest floods in history (in 1887, 1931, and 1938) that together have killed millions. When it floods, it brings vast amounts of silt with it. 15 of 23 Shanxi badboydt7 / Getty Images Area: 60,347 square miles (156,300 square kilometers)Capital: Taiyuan Shanxi province has a semiarid climate, with the vast majority of its 16 to 20 inches (400 to 650 millimeters) of annual rainfall coming between June and September. More than 2,700 different plants have been identified in the province, including some protected species. 16 of 23 Shandong Wonjin Jo / EyeEm / Getty Images Area: 59,382 square miles (153,800 square kilometers)Capital: Jinan The seaside is a big feature of Shandong Province, as it has a peninsula that juts out into the Yellow Sea. Another water-related must-see tourist spot is Daming Lake in Jinan, where lotuses bloom on the water in the summer. 17 of 23 Liaoning zhengshun tang / Getty Images Area: 56,332 square miles (145,900 square kilometers)Capital: Shenyang The peninsula area of the Liaoning Province was fought over in the 1890s and early 1900s by Japan and Russia and was the site of the Mukden (Manchurian) Incident in 1931 when Japan seized the city of Mukden (now Shenyang) and invaded Manchuria. 18 of 23 Anhui Stephen Wallace / Getty Images Area: 53,938 square miles (139,700 square kilometers)Capital: Hefei The name of the province means “peaceful beauty” and comes from the names of two cities, Anqing and Huizhou. The region has had human habitation for 2.25 to 2.5 million years. 19 of 23 Fujian dowell / Getty Images Area: 46,834 square miles (121,300 square kilometers)Capital: Fuzhou The picturesque Fujian Province might be a small province, but due to its location opposite of Taiwan, bordering the China Sea, it’s been strategically important in its long history, which appears in written records dating to B.C.E. 300. 20 of 23 Jiangsu Nayuki / Getty Images Area: 39,614 square miles (102,600 square kilometers)Capital: Nanjing Nanjing, in Jiangsu, was the capital during the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644), and again from 1928 to 1949, and has been culturally and economically significant since antiquity. 21 of 23 Zhejiang george / Getty Images Area: 39,382 square miles (102,000 square kilometers)Capital: Hangzhou One of the richest and most densely populated provinces of China, Zhejiang's industry includes textiles, metal, furniture, appliances, paper/printing, car and bicycle manufacturing, and construction. 22 of 23 Taiwan tobiasjo / Getty Images Area: 13,738 square miles (35,581 square kilometers)Capital: Taipei The island of Taiwan has been a place much fought over for hundreds of years; it's occasionally had self-rule but also has been a territory of the Netherlands, Nationalist China, and Japan. It's where the Nationalist Chinese fled after the People's Republic of China took over the mainland government in 1949. 23 of 23 Hainan Gao Yu L / EyeEm / Getty Images Area: 13,127 square miles (34,000 square kilometers)Capital: Haikou The name of the island province of Hainan literally means "south of the sea." Oval in shape, it has a lot of coastline, 930 miles (1,500 kilometers), featuring many bays and natural harbors.