U.K. – In England and Wales, prior to 1907 the criterion was simply the establishment of an Anglican Cathedral. Any populated area with a cathedral was considered a city. Today a city is defined by the Queen. The UK’s five largest cities are generally considered to be London, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow – this is based on the population of the conurbation as a whole.

U.S.A. – In the United States of America, the classification of population centres is a matter of state law; consequently, the definition of a city varies widely from state to state. In some states, a city may be run by an elected mayor and city council, while a town is governed by the people, a select board (or board of trustees), or open town meeting. There are some very large municipalities which label themselves as towns (such as Hempstead, New York, with a population of 755,785 in 2004 or Cary, North Carolina with a population of 112,414 in 2006 ) and some very small cities (such as Woodland Mills, Tennessee, with a population of 296 in 2000), and the line between town and city, if it exists at all, varies from state to state. The lack of a clear-cut definition of a city in the United States can lead to some counter-intuitive labelling; for example, before it was dissolved in 2002 Maza, North Dakota, with only 5 inhabitants, was a city as by North Dakota law any incorporated location is deemed a city regardless of size. California has both towns and cities but the terms “town” and “city” are considered synonymous. The nation’s top five largest cities are New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia.

China – A city is an administrative division in Mainland China. There are three types of cities: a municipality is a provincial-level division (e.g. Shanghai or Beijing); a prefecture-level city is governed by provinces or autonomous regions, and a county-level city is a sub-unit of a prefecture-level administrative division.

There is a formal definition of a city in China provided by the Chinese government, commonly seen in maps and textbooks. A minimum 100,000 non-agricultural population in an urbanized area, usually the administrative centre of a county (县), is required to establish it in an administrative sense as a city (市).


China is divided into thirty-four province-level divisions. There are four different names for these:

  • Province (省)
  • Special administrative region (SAR) (特别行政区)
  • Municipality (直辖市)
  • Autonomous region (自治区)

Can you name all thirty-four? Could you locate them correctly on a blank map?

Each province division is further divided into prefecture-level divisions (except for municipalities and SAR’s). There are again 4 kinds of prefecture-level divisions.

  • Prefecture (地区)
  • League (盟)
  • Autonomous prefecture (自治州)
  • Development zones (开发区)

Liaoning is divided into 14 prefectures: Shenyang, Dalian, Anshan, Benxi, Liaoyang, Panjin, Yingkou, Tieling, Fushun, Fuxin, Chaoyang, Huludao, Jinzhou and Dandong.

Prefectures are again divided into the third tier of administration – the county level. There are 8 kinds of county-level divisions

  • Counties (县)
  • Autonomous counties (自治县)
  • County-level cities (县级市)
  • City districts (市辖区)
  • Banners (旗)
  • Autonomous banners (自治旗)
  • Forestry areas (林区)
  • Special districts (特区)

Anshan prefecture is divided into 4 districts (Tiedong, Tiexi, Leshan and Qianshan) and 3 Counties (Tai’an, Haicheng and Xiuyan).

Counties further divided into towns (镇), townships (乡) and villages (村民委员会).


The USA is divided into 50 states. Can you match the states to the map below?

Blank map of USA with state lines

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

In the United States, a county is a geographic subdivision of a state (or federal territory), usually assigned some governmental authority. The term “county” is used in 48 of the 50 states; Louisiana is divided into parishes and Alaska into boroughs.

Counties are then subdivided into cities, towns, and villages.


The United Kingdom is divided into 4 countries: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Each of these is subdivided in different ways.

England is divided into 9 regions which further divide into counties which are further divided into districts.

Scotland has 32 council areas. Formerly, Scotland was divided into large regions, before than into districts. The names of the regions and districts may still be used but have no administrative purpose.

Northern Ireland is divided into 26 districts. Northern Ireland was divided into six traditional counties. Though county names are still widely used, these no longer serve any administrative purpose.

Wales consists of 22 unitary authorities: 10 county boroughs, 9 Counties, and 3 Cities. Below these are community councils.

Geo-political map of the United Kingdom.


  • Anshan?
  • Your hometown?
  • Other famous cities like New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Los Angeles?

Try discussing with classmates about them. Write an essay or a story about one of these cities.