China is known for many things. The third-largest country in the world has everything a traveler dreams of. A rich and interesting history of culture and traditions, fascinating legends and myths, amazing people, and above all, nature’s beauty in pristine form.

But there’s another thing the Land of the Dragon is popular for– its staggering population. With over 1.4 billion people, China alone constitutes almost 18% of the global population.

Most of these 1.4 billion people– about 65%, to be precise– live in cities. As with everywhere else, urbanization in China is constantly increasing at a great rate. 

There are over 622 cities in China, but only around 160 house over 1 million people. The cities in the Eastern and Southern coastal regions are more densely populated than the central and western regions. This is mainly due to the greater economic opportunities available in the cities near the coast.

The largest city, Shanghai, has over 22 million residents and is among the country’s most significant cities. In this blog, we talk about the ten largest cities in China by population.


Population: 29,210,808
Area: 2,448 sq. miles

Unsurprisingly, the city of Shanghai finds the first spot on this list. This is because of several obvious factors—technology, finance, education, business, tourism, fashion, entertainment; you name it. 

Shanghai is often the first choice for any industry. In fact, it is the most important city in China after Beijing and one of the most significant cities in Asia and the world. Besides, it is one of the few cities in Asia with a GDP more than the GDP of the capital city.

Due to the numerous activities it bustles with, Shanghai can be dubbed as a hub of everything.


Population:  21,766,214
Area: 6336 sq. miles 

The capital city of China needs no introduction. It is the second-most populated city in China but is the most populous of all capital cities in the world. Needless to say, the city is the epicenter of the country’s economic, financial, commercial, and political activities.

But Beijing is much more than a busy capital city. While the city leads in political and economic supremacy, it also represents China globally. The Nature Index ranked Beijing first in scientific research output in 2016.

It is the largest hub of many prominent educational institutions, home to various heritage sites, and a popular tourist attraction.
The beauty of Beijing, China

Guangzhou (Guangdong)

Population: 14,284,353
Area: 2,870 sq. miles

Another capital city on this list, Guangzhou, is also the largest city in the Guangdong province. It was a culturally significant place in ancient China and continues to be of immense importance. 

But the current importance of the city extends far beyond cultural aspects. Today, Guangzhou is a prominent commercial hub and financial center. Besides, it is a leading research and innovation zone and houses several notable world-class universities.


Population: 14,238,643
Area: 4,612 sq. miles

The municipality of Tianjin comes under the direct administration of the Chinese government. It borders the Hubei province in the west and faces the Bohai in the east.

Besides being a prominent city for administrative purposes, Tianjin is also an educational hub. It is home to several leading educational institutions.

Moreover, the city also ranks among the world’s top 20 cities in terms of scientific research. Like most of China, Han is the dominant ethnic group in Tianjin. 

Shenzhen (Guangdong)

Population: 13,072,633
Area: 790 sq. miles

The fifth-most populous city in China also lies in the Guangdong province. Besides being one of China’s most densely populated cities, Shenzhen is a major hub for various industries.

It is a leading global center for technological and scientific research. But it’s equally rich in its manufacturing and economic activities. Due to its strong presence in the technology sector, Shenzhen is also popular as China’s Silicon Valley.

This has not only made the city a global center for IT services but has also made it a model for other cities.

Nanjing (Jiangsu)

Population: 9,698,464
Area: 2,500 sq. miles

The city of Nanjing is important in East China. Besides being the sixth-largest city in China, Nanjing is the second-largest city in East China. It is the capital of the Jiangsu province and a prominent center for economic and educational activities.

The city is a hub of reputed world-class educational institutions. For example, Nanjing University (NJU) ranks among the top 20 universities. Nanjing comprises 11 districts, of which Gulou is the largest by population.

Chengdu (Sichuan)

Population: 9,653,772
Area: 5,551 sq. miles

The seventh-largest Chinese city by population is the capital city of Sichuan. It is not only among the most populated cities but also one of the oldest cities. The city’s history dates back to as early as the 4th century BC.

As a result, the city is extensively rich in culture and history. And therefore, it maintains its importance in the present day as a leading cultural, financial, and economic center.

But that’s not all. The city’s economy spans everything from food and medicine to automobile, machinery, and IT.

Xi’an (Shaanxi)

Population: 8,785,174
Area: 4,155 sq. miles

The capital city of the Shaanxi Province, Xi’an, is the most populous city in North West China. The city is also popular with its traditional name Chang’an, which literally means eternal peace. 

Known for its rich and varied history, Xi’an is a prominent tourist attraction in China. It is the eastern extreme of the Silk Route and has been the capital of several ancient dynasties.

A prominent cultural and economic center in Western China, the city witnesses an influx of population every year.

Wuhan (Hubei)

Population:  8,718,250
Area: 3,280 sq. miles

Wuhan is one of the most vibrant commercial centers in China. It lies at the confluence of the Han and Yangtze rivers. It is the capital city of the Hubei province in Central China and is a popular transportation hub. 

The city has earned the name “the Chicago of China” due to its hyperactive transportation services. Besides transportation, Wuhan is also popular for many things, including its manufacturing, economic, financial, and cultural activities.

Lately, though, it has become popular for a far less prideworthy aspect– for being the source of the COVID-19 virus.

Dongguan (Guangdong)

Population: 7,587,049
Area: 952 sq. miles

Dongguan is a prominent industrial city in the Guangdong province in southern China. The city lies in the Pearl River Delta – one of China’s most densely populated and wealthiest regions.

The city of Dongguan houses a vibrant and extensive trade industry and is a leading export center in the country.

It is also a leading manufacturing hub, providing manufacturing services for renowned companies like Samsung, DuPont, Nokia, and Nestlé.

A quick recap 

The cities of China are where the most important activities of the country take place. These cities brim with life, people, and a plethora of things these people do. 

Five of the cities on the list are the capital cities of Chinese provinces, While three of the cities are under the direct administration of the Chinese government. Besides, each of the ten cities is a leading center for economic and commercial activities. And this is the reason why these cities are so populous. 

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