China’s Top 10 Biggest Cities

Having already been recognized as a superpower, China is also now emerging as an economic powerhouse. The country has long considered itself a developing nation, but now that is slowly changing. With progress comes opportunity and with opportunity comes people looking for it. What cities in China are currently leading the population boom?

10 Hong Kong

Made famous by countless action films, Hong Kong is not just a major tourist destination but also the headquarters of many foreign businesses operating in Asia. Formerly a British colony, it is also the home to an estimated 7.07 million people sharing an area only 426 square miles. Its attractions include Victoria Peak, Hong Kong Disneyland, Sharp Island and the Bank of China Tower. Lately the island has gained an unhealthy reputation due to advanced levels of pollution in the air. The overcrowding is also projected to be a problem with the population estimated to rise to 8 million in 2041.

9 Hangzhou

The capital of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China, Hangzhou, sometimes called Hangchow, has been a rich city for over 1,000 years. It has an area of 13,353 square miles and is home to an estimated 8,156,600 people. The area where the city stands has been inhabited as long as 5,000 years ago by the Liangzhu people who would later have a town named after them not far from modern Hangzhou. The city is also called the "the most splendid and luxurious city in the world” and is home to attractions like the West Lake, a freshwater lake with numerous pagodas, artificial islands and gardens, the Leifeng Pagoda, the China national tea museum and the Yue Fei Temple.

8 Dongguan

Home to 8,220,237 people living in its 952-square-mile area, Dongguan has the claim to fame (or infamy) as ‘China’s sex capital’. Reportedly, between 500,000 to 800,000 people work in the brothels, nightclubs, massage parlors, bars and various establishments in the city’s red light district. That aside, the city does not rely on any industry but focuses on attracting foreign investment. Its main product is manpower since so many Dongguan natives work in other parts of China, particularly Hong Kong, and other parts of the world. It is also home to the biggest empty mall in the world, the New South China Mall.

7 Shenzhen

Usually the first stop for tourists visiting mainland China, Shenzhen is also one of China’s major ports for foreign trade and international exchange. An estimated 10,357,938 people live within its 949-square-mile area. It’s currently one of the fastest growing cities in China. Shenzhen natives said it was hard to imagine that in 1979 the place was just little more than a fishing village. Now it serves as an economic center and the world’s gateway into China. Its attractions include museums, shopping districts, the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center and the Windows of the World.

6 Guangzhou

Once known as Canton, this city is also the largest city and the capital of Guangdong Province. It has an area of 4,354 square miles and is home to 11,070,654, people. It is also one of China’s five national central cities. It has been the capital of that district way back when it was known as the Nanyue Kingdom in 111 BC. In 2008 it was designed as Beta World City by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. Its attractions include the Canton Tower, the Guangdong Museum and the Baiyun Mountain.

5 Chengdu

Located in Sichuan Province in southwest China, this city is also the capital of Sichuan and is home to 14,047,625 people and has a combined area of 6,130 square miles. It is considered one of the most important economic, transportation, and communication hubs in the region. Artifacts also prove the area where the city has been settled in by a bronze-age culture called the Sanxingdui. In 2006 it was named China’s fourth most livable city and in 2007 it was chosen as one of the top ten cities to invest in of all the cities in China. Its attractions include the Chengdu Plain, the Anshun Bridge and the Jinli district.

4 Tianjin

The land where Tianjin City is now was created by sediment from various rivers entering the sea at Bohai Gulf, including the Yellow River. The result was an excellent location for a port city. It is also one of the national central cities of China. The population started to boom during the Sui Dynasty with the opening of the Grand Canal. Now 16,633,757 people call the place home. It has an area of 4,540 square miles. Its attractions include the Hai River, the Tianjin Eye and the Tianjin museum.

3 Beijing

Once called Peking, this metropolis in northern China is also the country’s capital and is one of the national central cities. It has an area of 6,487 square miles and is home to an estimated 20,693,300 people, most of them ethnic Han. There are also more than 50 ethnic minorities living in the city including Manchu, Mongolians and Hui. It has been the seat of power in China since the Qing Dynasty and after having been destroyed and rebuilt many times due to wars and rebellions. The latest and most devastating being during World War 2 when fighting between Chinese and Japanese forces leveled many parts of the city. Its attractions include the Forbidden City, Tienanmen Square, various sections of the Great Wall of China and the Beijing National Aquatics Center.

2 Shanghai

This city is considered the foremost financial and economic center of China and is also one of the national central cities. It is home to 23,019,148 people and has a land area of 2,448 square miles. Shanghai started out as a village in the Song Dynasty, eventually becoming a walled city in the Ming Dynasty, an important seaport in the Qing Dynasty, then growing and expanding more until it became the city it is today. Despite being the financial capital, the city also has a lot to offer in the way of tourism.  The city is home to many old China attractions like the Bund, the French Quarter and new attractions like the Pearl TV Tower, the Shimao International Plaza and the Shanghai tower.

1 Chongqing

The city in southwest China has an estimated 28,846,179 people living in its 31,815-square-mile area. It is also one of the national central cities of China. Relatively younger compared to other Chinese cities, the municipality of Chongquing was just created in March 1997. Its small population quickly rose to 28 million in 2011, although an estimated 6 or 7 million live in the cities urbanized areas. It has been named one of the 13 emerging megacities in China. Its attractions include the Three Gorges River, the Dazu rock carvings and Shibaozhai.

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