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The geography of China: what you need to know

China is the second country by size of its land worldwide, just behind the Russian Federation, according to World Bank.
It is important to know its geography to have some tips about where to make which kind of business.
There ae two macro-areas in China: North and South. The South is generally richer, but that is not always the case. Most of the richer provinces are indeed in the east and in the south-east coasts.
China is also divided in several provinces (some of them with large autonomy), two special administrative regions (SAR) and four municipalities.

A map of China with all of its provinces labeled
Map of China’s provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions and special administrative regions. Source: chokkicx / Getty Images

The Geography of China: 23 Provinces

The regular 23 provinces of China differ a lot from each other, and they share the same laws. But the way that those laws will be applied is depending on their local government. Often the local government will try to reach the objectives planned by preparing special regulations and incentives for business. Knowing the location of each province as well as its social and industrial condition is vital to understand where a business may thrive and where it may fail. The provinces are:
Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Taiwan, Yunnan and Zhejiang.

The Geography of China: 4 Municipalities

They are important cities which are managed directly and independently by their mayors. It does not matter the area where they are located:
Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai and Tianjin.

The Geography of China: 5 Autonomous Regions

Those 5 regions have a higher degree of autonomy when compared with other areas. This is usually due to specific conditions that would make them much harder to manage if they had a “province” status. All these five regions are not as developed as most of the others. The 5 autonomous regions are:
Guangxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Tibet (or Xizang) and Xinjiang.


While both Hong Kong and Macau enjoy the same high degree of autonomy in China, Hong Kong is much more famous. Hong Kong has a past and present importance in the financial and trade markets. They both mint their own currency and have set borders with the outside. Perhaps that’s why for some, the differences are so great that they would seem like separate countries. Both the SAR, though, are indeed part of China. Another important point about that is that their status is temporary, and it will end in 2047 (for Hong Kong) and 2049 (for Macau).

We will provide more info specific for each area later on. Each area is different and can offer diverse opportunities.

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