When I first moved to China I noticed something rather interesting. The local Chinese and foreigners often reference province names in their abbreviated form rather than using their complete names.
China is a huge country that spans almost 9.6 million square kilometers, with 34 provinces, regions, and municipalities. Canada, which is my homeland covers a similar span of 9.9 million kilometers, with 10 provinces and 3 territories, but the difference is that China has a population of nearly 1.4 billion more than Canada.
Canadians would rarely ever say hey let’s go from AB to ON, but in China they do.
Shortly after moving to China, I learned the importance of these abbreviations and made sure to find out exactly what ZJ, HK, and other province abbreviations in China referenced.
It wasn’t just helpful in conversing with my Chinese friends, but also valuable for several other reasons. Specifically, because province abbreviations allow for concise and efficient communication.
Abbreviations are especially useful in written communication such as in lists or tables, where space can be limited. There are a lot of provinces in China, notably 34 provinces, autonomous regions, and direct-controlled municipalities which can be a big mouthful.
Therefore, abbreviations are valuable because they help to simplify and organize information in a way that is easy to understand and reference. Additionally, province abbreviations can be helpful for identifying locations and addressing mail or packages.
China is divided into 33 “first-level administrative divisions”, consisting of 22 provinces; 4 municipalities (Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, and Tianjin); 5 autonomous regions (Guangxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Tibet, and Xinjiang) and 2 special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau). In addition to these is Taiwan, which Beijing considers a territory that has yet to be reunified with the Chinese nation.
Often text conversations in China, go like this - "Hey! I'm taking the train from GZ to SH for the weekend, do you want to come?"
In the same way that American states are abbreviated to two letters (CA for California or NY for New York, for example), each of China’s administrative divisions has a two-letter abbreviation and a single-character name that is a short form of its long name.
And with this in mind, let's get you up to speed on what the province abbreviations of China are:
Chinese provinces each have unique abbreviations that can be useful for identifying and distinguishing them from one another. These abbreviations can be helpful for anyone looking to learn more about the geography of China or for those conducting business in the country.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the Chinese provinces and their appropriate abbreviations, you’re one step closer to an exciting train ride across the country or deciphering a location more accurately.