Provinces, formally provincial-level administrative divisions or first-level administrative divisions, are the highest-level Chinese administrative divisions. There are 34 such divisions, classified as 23 provinces, four municipalities, five autonomous regions, the Peoples Republic of China claims sovereignty over the territory administered by the Republic of China, claiming most of it as its Taiwan Province. The ROC also administers some offshore islands which form Fujian Province and these were part of an originally unified Fujian province, which since the stalemate of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 has been divided between the PRC and ROC. Note that every province has a Communist Party of China provincial committee, the committee secretary is in effective charge of the province, rather than the nominal governor of the provincial government. The government of each province is nominally led by a provincial committee. The committee secretary is first-in-charge of the province, second-in-command is the governor of the provincial government, the Peoples Republic of China claims the island of Taiwan and its surrounding islets, including Penghu, as Taiwan Province. The territory is controlled by the Republic of China, a municipality or direct-controlled municipality is a higher level of city which is directly under the Chinese government, with status equal to that of the provinces. In practice, their status is higher than that of common provinces. The governor of each region is usually appointed from the respective minority ethnic group. A special administrative region is an autonomous and self-governing subnational subject of the Peoples Republic of China that is directly under the Central Peoples Government. Each SAR has an executive as head of the region. The regions government is not fully independent, as policy and military defence are the responsibility of the central government. Notes,1, as of 20102, per km23, km24, Abbreviation in the parentheses is informal 5, Since founding in 1949, however, the PRC has never controlled Taiwan. Taiwan currently administers Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, the subject of whether or not Taiwan is part of China is often debated, with no clear conclusion. The Ming Dynasty kept the system set up by the Yuan Dynasty, however. By the time of the establishment of the Qing Dynasty in 1644 there were 18 provinces, in addition, there was a zongdu, a general military inspector or governor general, for every two to three provinces. Outer regions of China were not divided into provinces, military leaders or generals oversaw Manchuria, Xinjiang, and Mongolia, while vice-dutong and civilian leaders headed the leagues, a subdivision of Mongolia. The ambans supervised the administration of Tibet, in 1884 Xinjiang became a province, in 1907 Fengtian, Jilin, and Heilongjiang were made provinces as well
Map comparing administrative divisions as drawn by the PRC and ROC.
Map of the PRC in 1949.
Administrative divisions of the Republic of China (1912–49). Note: this map depicts the theoretical administrative divisions of the Republic of China, which are not synchronized with the actual administrative divisions of the People's Republic of China. The ROC controls Taiwan and nearby islands while the PRC controls Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau.