District (PRC)

District (PRC)

This article is part of the series:
Administrative divisions of the
People's Republic of China

History of the political divisions of China
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The term district, in the context of the People's Republic of China refers to several unrelated political divisions in both ancient and modern China.

In the modern context, districts (区 qū) refer to two types of divisions in the People's Republic of China: city districts and the soon-to-be-phased-out county districts (also known as district public offices).

However, if the word "district" is encountered in the context of ancient Chinese history, then it is a translation for xian, another type of administrative division in China.


City districts

As a county-level division, a city district (市辖区, pinyin: shìxiáqū, lit. a city-governed district; also translated as a city-controlled district or a sub-city) is a subdivision of a municipality or a prefecture-level city.

Before the 1980s, cities in the People's Republic of China were administrative divisions containing mostly urban, built-up areas, with very little farmland, except for the immediate suburbs in order to ensure a large supply of food or raw materials. As a result, districts were also mostly urban or suburban in nature.

After the 1980s, prefectures began to be replaced with prefecture-level cities. From then on, "cities" in mainland China became just like any other administrative division, containing urban areas, towns, villages, and farmland. These cities are subdivided into districts, counties, autonomous counties, and county-level cities. At the same time, counties and county-level cities began to be replaced with districts, especially after 1990. From then onwards, districts were no longer just urban entities — some districts today are just like counties, with towns and townships under them governing rural areas.

Ethnic districts

A type of city districts that are specially created for ethnic minorities. Currently there are 4 ethnic districts three in Henan and one in Heilongjiang.

County-controlled districts

A county-controlled district(县辖区、县管区; or translated as a county-governed district; county district or sub-county) is a sub-county, as a branch of the county government, the district public office(区公所) is the administrative office in a district. a county-controlled district was once an important subdivision of a county all over China from 1950s to 1990s. It was common for there to be about 5 to 10 districts in a county, then about 3 to 5 towns and townships in a district. After the 1990s, county-controlled districts began to be phased out, and their role were taken over by larger towns or townships created by merging smaller ones.

At the end of 2005, there are just 11 district public offices left in China, with 1 in Hebei and 10 in Xinjiang.

Ancient sense

If the word "district" is encountered in the context of ancient Chinese history, then the word is a translation for xian, another type of administrative division in China.

Xian has been translated using several English language terms. In the context of ancient history, "district" and "prefecture" are commonly used, while "county" is used for more contemporary contexts.

See also

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