Major Cities in China

China has the highest population in the world, with over 1 billion people within its borders, and is the third largest country, geographically. Most of the population lives in north and south regions of China, which makes the population density of China’s major cities quite high. China’s largest cities are Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong.


Shanghai has the highest population out of any city in China, and it is located at the mouth of the Yangtze River on the Eastern Coast. Being located both on the coast and at the mouth of China’s largest river, Shanghai is in an important position for trade and commerce. Shanghai was founded as a fishing and textiles town, and, during the Opium Wars period, grew to be a strong port for foreign trade.

During the 1930s, Shanghai became a center for world technology, finance, fashion and culture, but the Communist Party was quick to drive out the Western influences in the late 1940s. It was not until the 1990s, when Chinese economic reforms allowed for more freedom in their world marketplace, that Shanghai once again became a center of global importance.


Beijing, also known as Peking, is located in China’s northeast and is the capital of the People’s Republic of China. The city is a transportation hub for China. There are a large amount of railways, roads and motorways that go through the city. In 2008, Beijing hosted the Summer Olympic Games. Beijing is a historically rich city and is part of the “Four Great Ancient Capitals of China,” the other three being: Nanjing, Luoyang and Chang’an. The long history and significance of Beijing’s architecture, palaces, temples and stone gates has made it an integral part of Chinese culture and art.

Hong Kong

Though Hong Kong is not amongst the top five largest cities in China, it is very important to China’s government. Hong Kong is located on the south coast of China, surrounded by mouth of the Pearl River, and bordered by the South China Sea. Hong Kong is one of two special administrative regions (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China, the other being in Macau. Due to a principal of the People’s Republic of China called “one country, two systems,” Hong Kong functions under a different political system than that of mainland China. This may be why, opposed to the rest of China, Hong Kong has reached high in the ranks of cities with economic freedom, quality of life and human development.

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