administrative units are currently based on a three-level
system dividing the nation into provinces, counties, and townships:
country is divided into provinces, autonomous regions, and
municipalities directly under the Central Government;
province or an autonomous region is subdivided into autonomous
prefectures, counties, autonomous counties, and/or cities;
county or an autonomous county is subdivided into townships,
national minority townships, and/or towns.
directly under the Central Government and large cities are
subdivided into districts and counties; autonomous prefectures
are subdivided into counties, autonomous counties, and cities.
Autonomous regions, autonomous prefectures, and autonomous
counties are all autonomous national minority areas.
Constitution specifically empowers the state to establish
special administrative regions when necessary. A special administrative
region is a local administrative area directly under the Central
At present, China was divided into 23 provinces, 5 autonomous
regions, 4 municipalities directly under the Central Government,
and 2 special administrative region (see the following table).