20 Biggest Cities In China

The world's most populous country has 15 metro areas with more than 10 million people apiece, with Shanghai metro leading the way with 34 million.

China, which is also known as the People's Republic of China, refers to the mainland nation of China. China is the most populated country in the world, with the last national census reporting more than 1.381 billion inhabitants. Statistics show that 91.51% of the population are Han Chinese. Internal immigration research showed that since 1979, the Chinese population has been moving to urban centers in large numbers. A large number of the population are located in urban areas in the eastern part of China.

This article will take a look at interesting facts about the largest cities in China.

Most Populated Cities in China


Shanghai ranks first in the list of most populated cities in China with a population of 34.0 million people. It is also the biggest city in the world by population. Although growth began in the late 19th century, Shanghai has expanded rapidly in recent times, experiencing a population growth of 37.53% since the year 2000. It is the financial and industrial center of China, known for its architecture, temples, and gardens. 2015 GDP per capita was US$16,553. Shanghai is divided into districts on either side of the Huangpu River; the historic area of Puxi (home to the Bund) and the modern area of Pudong (home of the Pearl Tower). The Communist Party of China was founded in Shanghai's French Conession area. It is today hoe to two branches of the China Stock Exchange, cementing its importance as a Chinese financial center.


Guangzhou ranks second in China with 25.0 million people. It is the most populous city in Guangdong province. Once a major terminus on the silk road, Guangzhou is now ranked as a Beta+ Global city. This includes the "floating population" of the highly mobile labor force. The majority of its population are in urban areas while the rest are in the outer fringes of the city and surrounding areas. Guangzhou's 2015 GDP per capita was US$21,026. Also known as the City of Flowers, Guangzhou was previously known to Westerners as the erroneous "Canton". It has been an important port in southern China for hundreds of years. It is a major transportation hub within the country. Guangzhou is a warm, muggy city with an average relative humidity of 77 percent. The main language used in Guangzhou is Cantonese.


Beijing is the third largest city in China, with 24.9 million people. It is also the country's capital. An increase of 7% was seen in Beijing's population between 2012 and 2013. The city is popular among tourists for its proximity to the world-famous Great Wall of China, as well as its attractions such as the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace. In 2015, the GDP per capita was US$17,143. Formerly known as Peking, Beijing has played an immense role in the development of China. In 2008, Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. It is due to host the Winter Games in 2022. This will make Beijing the only city to ever host both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. Beijing is home to a great amount of ancient history, having been settled by humans since the 1st millennium BCE. Beijing is home to some of the country's top universities.


Located directly north of Hong Kong in southern China, Shenzhen is home to around 23.3 million people. Its population has a relatively young average age of 30. About 20% of China's PhD holders live and work in Shenzhen. A small number of the people are transient workers who commute on the weekends. 2015 GDP per capita was US$25,038. Much of Shenzhen's growth has been recent and can be traced back to the year 1980 when Shenzhen was chosen to become one of the country's Special Economic Zones (SEZ). Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, it was one of the world's fastest growing cities. The city is home to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, and serves as headquarters for a number of technology companies.


Wuhan has a population of 19.0 million. It is the populous city in central China. It too has experienced a significant jump in population, with Its population increasing 9.1% from 2001 to 2011. It exists at the confluence of the Hanshui and Yangtze rivers. Its metropolitan area actually consists of three areas: Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang (hence its name, which is a combination of "Wu" from Wuchang and "Han" from Hankou and Hanyang. Wuhan has often been referred to as the "Chicago of China" by foreign media, a reference to its numerous railway, expressway, and roadway connections. Wuhan is also an educational hub within China, as it is home to 35 different higher educational institutions. It is also known as the birthplace of Han opera, known as the "mother of Peking opera" in China.


Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province in Western China. It has a population of 14,427,500 inhabitants in its metropolitan area. It is well-known for consistently ranking highly on lists of China's most liveable cities. Chengdu is also home to the world's largest panda conservation area. The GDP per capita of Chengdu was US$10,000 in 2013. Sometimes called the "Hibiscus City", it is renowned for its high percentage of green space. Chengdu is also home to one of the busiest airports in the world, the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport. Chengdu is also known for its abundance of historical architecture that has been well-preserved within the city center. The largest building in the world, the New Century Global Centre, is located in Chengdu. Among other attractions, it is also home to a 24-hour artificial sun.


Chongqing is located in central China with a poopulation of 8.5 million in the city proper. However, the population of the entire region surrounding Chongqing is said to exceed 30 million. It is China's only direct-controlled municipality that is located far away from the coast. Chongqing has a significant historical past and is notable for serving as the wartime capital during the second Sino-Japanese War from 1937 to 1945. Chongqing is an important site on the upstream Yangzte basin. In 2013, it was named one of China's "13 emerging megacities" by the Economist Intelligence Unit. With over 100 days of fog per year, Chongqing is sometimes known as "Fog City". It has also been ranked as one of the most polluted cities in the world in terms of air quality. Chongqing is also sometimes referred to as the "Bridge Capital of China", due to its numerous bridges that cross the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers. Chongqing is also the only city in China that maintains aerial tramways, or aerial lifts.

One Child Policy

In the years following the rise of single-party Communism in 1949, the Chinese government saw an increased population as helpful in a stronger country. However, by 1956, the government realized the disadvantages of overpopulation and started its one-child campaign. The Ministry of Health began to introduce a collective birth control which was not successful until the 1963-66 period. The years 1972-73 saw the campaign in both urban and rural areas with Mao Zedong promoting the effort in 1973. However, certain ethnic groups were exempted, and those who complied received state benefits. The success rate was seen more in cities than in rural areas. Today, a gender disparity exists in that boys outnumber girls by 9 million. There is also a smaller number of youths in the population due to the one-child policy.

20 Biggest Cities In China

RankCity Metro Population (Millions)
1Shanghai 34.0
2Guangzhou 25.0
3Beijing 24.9
4Shenzhen 23.3
5Wuhan 19.0
6Chengdu 18.1
7Chongqing 17.0
8Tianjin 15.4
9Hangzhou 13.4
10Xi'an 12.9
11Changzhou 12.4
12Shantou 12.0
13Nanjing 11.7
14Jinan 11.0
15Harbin 10.5
16Zhengzhou 9.7
17Qingdao 9.6
18Shenyang 7.7
19Wenzhou 7.6
20Nanchang 7.4

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