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See China’s Population Density Visualized Using a 3D Map

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See this visualization first on the Voronoi app.

This 3D map visualizes China's population density, based on data from various sources.

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See China’s Population Density Visualized Using a 3D Map

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

For seven decades, China’s population was the world’s largest until India took that particular crown in 2023.

Still, 1.4 billion people live in the country that stretches across 3.7 million square miles (9.6 million km²). However, as seen in the map above, 94% of the Chinese population lives east of the Heihe-Tengchong line, which is only 43% of the country’s area.

What does this mean for China’s population density patterns? We go into further detail below.

Ranked: China’s Largest Cities

A quick look at a geographical map of China reveals two major rivers flowing from west to east, eventually draining into the Yellow and East China seas. This leads to vast tracts of arable land. Food surplus then results in rapid population growth and urbanization.

Here are all of China’s cities with at least one million residents, from the 2020 census. Clearly noticeable are the provinces they are found in—on the eastern edge of the country, matching the population spikes seen above.

RankCityPopulationProvince
1Shanghai24,890,000Direct-administered Municipality
2Beijing21,893,095Direct-administered Municipality
3Guangzhou18,810,600Guangdong
4Chengdu16,935,567Sichuan
5Chongqing16,875,000Direct-administered Municipality
6Shenzhen14,678,000Guangdong
7Tianjin13,866,009Direct-administered Municipality
8Wuhan12,326,500Hubei
9Xi'an11,904,805Shaanxi
10Hangzhou10,711,238Zhejiang
11Dongguan10,466,625Guangdong
12Foshan9,498,863Guangdong
13Nanjing9,314,685Jiangsu
14Jinan8,352,574Shandong
15Shenyang7,885,142Liaoning
16Qingdao7,172,451Shandong
17Harbin6,976,136Heilongjiang
18Zhengzhou6,650,532Henan
19Changsha5,980,707Hunan
20Kunming5,950,578Yunnan
21Dalian5,736,383Liaoning
22Changchun5,691,024Jilin
23Xiamen5,163,970Fujian
24Ningbo5,057,140Zhejiang
25Taiyuan4,529,141Shanxi
26Zhongshan4,418,060Guangdong
27Ürümqi4,335,017Xinjiang
28Suzhou4,330,000Jiangsu
29Shantou4,312,192Guangdong
30Hefei4,216,940Anhui
31Shijiazhuang4,098,243Hebei
32Fuzhou4,094,491Fujian
33Nanning3,839,800Guangxi
34Wenzhou3,604,446Zhejiang
35Changzhou3,601,079Jiangsu
36Nanchang3,576,547Jiangxi
37Guiyang3,483,100Guizhou
38Tangshan3,399,231Hebei
39Wuxi3,256,000Jiangsu
40Lanzhou3,072,100Gansu
41Handan2,845,790Hebei
42Hohhot2,681,758Inner Mongolia
43Weifang2,659,938Shandong
44Jiangmen2,657,662Guangdong
45Zibo2,640,000Shandong
46Huai'an2,632,788Jiangsu
47Xuzhou2,623,066Jiangsu
48Maoming2,539,148Guangdong
49Shaoxing2,521,964Zhejiang
50Yantai2,511,053Shandong
51Huizhou2,509,243Guangdong
52Zhuhai2,439,585Guangdong
53Luoyang2,372,571Henan
54Linyi2,303,648Shandong
55Nantong2,273,326Jiangsu
56Haikou2,250,000Hainan
57Baotou2,181,077Inner Mongolia
58Liuzhou2,153,419Guangxi
59Datong2,030,203Shanxi
60Putian2,003,000Fujian
61Lianyungang2,001,009Jiangsu
62Baoding1,976,000Hebei
63Xining1,954,795Qinghai
64Zhanjiang1,931,455Guangdong
65Wuhu1,870,000Anhui
66Chaozhou1,750,945Guangdong
67Qingyuan1,738,424Guangdong
68Tai'an1,735,425Taiwan
69Yichang1,698,800Hubei
70Yangzhou1,665,000Jiangsu
71Yinchuan1,662,968Ningxia
72Xiangyang1,658,000Hubei
73Anshan1,647,000Liaoning
74Jilin City1,623,000Jilin
75Yancheng1,615,717Jiangsu
76Taizhou1,607,108Jiangsu
77Qinhuangdao1,586,000Hebei
78Ganzhou1,585,000Jiangxi
79Daqing1,574,389Heilongjiang
80Guilin1,572,300Guangxi
81Huizhou1,558,826Guangdong
82Zhaoqing1,553,109Guangdong
83Jiaxing1,518,654Zhejiang
84Jining1,518,000Shandong
85Jinhua1,463,990Zhejiang
86Changde1,457,519Hunan
87Hengyang1,453,000Hunan
88Suqian1,440,000Jiangsu
89Baoji1,437,802Shaanxi
90Zhangjiakou1,435,000Hebei
91Mianyang1,355,331Sichuan
92Qiqihar1,350,434Heilongjiang
93Heze1,346,717Shandong
94Fushun1,307,200Liaoning
95Yangjiang1,292,987Guangdong
96Liaocheng1,229,768Shandong
97Tianshui1,212,791Gansu
98Benxi1,176,490Liaoning
99Chifeng1,175,391Inner Mongolia
100Jiujiang1,164,268Jiangxi
101Anyang1,146,839Henan
102Huaibei1,142,000Anhui
103Yulin1,117,800Guangxi
104Xinjiang1,047,088Henan
105Shaoguan1,028,460Guangdong

Source: Citypopulation.de

Also visible on the map is the North China Plain, a continuous blanket of density stretching from Beijing down towards Shanghai. This area is one of China’s most important agricultural regions.

Finally, China’s most populous cities are also the densest but numbers can vary a great deal depending on which city boundary is considered. For example, Beijing’s administrative area is more than twice that of Shanghai and includes many rural districts. As a result, Beijing’s population density figures can vary between 1,300–13,000 people per km².

In contrast, the western part of the country, encompassing the Gobi Desert, Kunlun Mountains, and Tibetan Plateau, is largely inhospitable. Nevertheless, 6% of China’s population still resides in this region, which equates to 84 million people. This means that this half of the country is as populous as Germany.

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