List of Chinese provinces and regions
China has a fairly complex political system. Most of it is broken up into provinces, but there are several other sorts of thing at the same level of the hierarchy as provinces:
- Various ethnic groups have autonomous regions, although their autonomy is far from complete. For the traveller, these can generally be thought of as provinces, but in political discussions (best avoided!) the distinction may be important.
- Some of the larger municipalities are not part of provinces, but independent entities whose leaders report direct to Beijing
- Hong Kong and Macau are special administrative regions (SARs). Capitalist economies are allowed to flourish there under the slogan "One country, two systems". The SARs have their own currencies and issue their own visas.
A full list of these divisions is:
Province — capital
Autonomous region — capital
- In pairs Guangxi/Guangdong and Shanxi/Shandong, xi is West and dong is East
- In pairs Hunan/Hubei and Henan/Hebei, nan is South and bei is North.
There are also Special Economic Zones (SEZs} set up to encourage development and foreign investment with tax concessions and other government measures. These areas tend to be prosperous, to have large expat communities, and to have more Western restaurants and facilities. They are:
- Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shantou in Guangdong
- Xiamen in Fujian
- the entire island province of Hainan
- Pudong in Shanghai
There are also many other areas where investment is encouraged. The national government has a program that opens up 14 coastal cities and all the capitals of inland provinces or autonomous regions for investment. There are also many provincial programs. However, the SEZs remain the major hotbeds of activity.
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This article is based on information from an article on Wikitravel contributed by
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