Interactive Research

Top 10 Largest Cities in China

Author: Frank Holmes
Date Posted: November 26, 2021 Read time: 3 min

China is a vast country, covering an area of approximately 9.6 million square kilometers or 3.7 million square miles. In this slideshow, we cover the top 10 largest cities located in this East Asian country.

Top 10 Largest Cities in China
China is a vast country, covering an area of approximately 9.6 million square kilometers or 3.7 million square miles. In this slideshow, we cover the top 10 largest cities located in this East Asian country.

The following are the largest 10 cities for urban area population in mainland China (excluding Taiwan and Hong Kong special administrative regions). [Populations, areas, and GDPs are estimates based on the urban area having 400 persons/km2 (1,000 persons per sq mi), Chinese population and economy growth rates, and an urban: rural income ratio of 3:1.] Source:

#1 Shanghai – 23.4 Million People

Shanghai is the undisputed most populous and wealthiest city in China. With a name synonymous with world trade, Shanghai has the largest and busiest port in terms of containers and cargo tonnage, a grand business district, two large airports (Pudong and Hongqiao), and the world’s fastest train (the Maglev).

#2 Beijing – 18.8 Million People

Beijing is large primarily because it is China’s capital. It is a political, educational, and cultural center, with light industries (science, technology and research) dominating over mass manufacturing. Beijing also has the world’s largest airport, and an extensive, mostly new subway system.

#3 Tianjin – 12.8 Million People

Tianjin is a huge port and manufacturing center on the Bohai Gulf, with a significant history due to its key location on the Grand Canal, linking the Yangtze and the Yellow River. Huge foreign and national investments in manufacturing has made Tianjin China’s third largest city.

#4 Shenzhen – 12.7 Million People

Shenzhen is located in between Guangzhou and Hong Kong. It is a huge manufacturing center that has sprung up overnight, ranking fourth in China for industrial output, manufacturing higher technology products than Guangzhou in general, and with several of its own successful sunrise companies.

#5 Guangzhou – 11.6 Million People

Guangzhou (otherwise known as Canton City) is a mighty manufacturing hub, drawing millions from the countryside to work in its factories. Vast quantities of clothing, electronics, plastic goods, and toys are shipped from Guangzhou all over the world.

#6 Chengdu – 10.2 Million People

Chengdu is an exception among the large Chinese cities. This large city is mostly mountainous and located in arid West China. The pace of life is the most relaxed of China’s largest cities. Though industry does play a part in Chengdu’s economy, there has been significant domestic investment.

#7 Chongqing – 8.5 Million People

Chongqing is famous for its fog and mountains. It’s the largest of China’s four municipalities besides Beijing, Tianjin, and Shanghai, though by contrast its population is mostly rural. Huge infrastructure and industrial investment has made it one of China’s 10 largest cities in the last 5 years.

#8 Dongguan – 8.3 Million People

Dongguan is a little-known but huge manufacturing city, between Guangzhou and Shenzhen, ranked fourth in China for exports. It has also grown phenomenally in the last couple of decades. It employs huge numbers of rural factory workers, producing electronic items and other hardware, like computer parts.

#9 Shenyang – 7.9 Million People

Shenyang is the largest city in northeast China by urban population. It is known for its status as a leading industrial, commerce, and trade city. It is also home to impressive aspects of Chinese history, being briefly the capital of Manchu-led China and Japanese-occupied China, with its own imperial palace.

#10 Wuhan – 7.9 Million People

Wuhan once felt less modernized than China’s coastal cities, but it is now one of China’s main high-tech, education, and financial centers. It has long been a transportation hub, because it is in the middle of the long navigable part of the Yangtze River between Shanghai and Chongqing.


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