City in China = County in U.S.

What? San Jose is bigger than San Francisco in terms of population? It may be a well known fact, but I just find it out. I keep reading “San Jose is the third largest city in California after Los Angles and San Diego”. I was wondering whether San Francisco is not included in California, or have some kind of San Francisco, D.C. arrangement… It turned out San Francisco is really smaller in population than San Jose.

According to Wikipedia:

Rank / City / Population / Land Area (in sq. miles) / Population Density (per sq. miles) / County

1 Los Angeles 3,976,071 469.1 7,876.8 Los Angeles

2 San Diego 1,305,736 324.3 3,771.9 San Diego

3 San Jose 945,000 174.9 5,117.9 Santa Clara

4 San Francisco 799,263 46.7 16,634.4 San Francisco

I am also amazed by how many cities California has – 478 cities. So the term of city in U.S. and China is quite different. City in China is more like county in U.S.

For example the Henan Province in China has 17 Cities, and under cities, there are 159 counties. Counties are under cities. It seems just the opposite of U.S.

The average size of counties is similiar with Henan province, because CA is 410,000 sq. km in area, and Henan is 167,000 sq. km in area. Just FYI, Henan’s population is 97,170,000 and CA is 33,871,648.

It is an interesting discovery for me. I realized it years ago when I got to know Redmond is part of the King County, but didn’t check it carefully until today.

10 thoughts on “City in China = County in U.S.

  1. Interesting findings.

    Since the Chinese counties almost equal to US cities, and China has so many provinces, cities, counties with a large population, the population of China is overwhelming to that of US.

  2. The city of Chongqing in China has more population than the entire state of California or the country of Canada.

    It is only the division of the municipalities.

  3. 不知道这里欢迎中文的留言不.只是有个喜悦不得不说.那就是在这里,我竟然可以看懂一些英文了.看来我要更常来这里.

  4. Yes, it is quite confusing regarding population and geographically in terms of square miles. There is the county of San Francisco with only one city, and the other 9 counties in the Bay Area with numerous cities each and San Jose is in the county of Santa Clara.

  5. Counties in the western USA are much larger than counties in the eastern USA. Some counties in the eastern USA are the size of cities in the western USA. Some counties in the western USA are the size of states in the eastern USA (for instance, San Bernardino county)

  6. Just to add more confusion to it, in US, there is another geography boundary between county and city is town. In many counties with less population, they group couple of cities together and become town, the town will have town hall which just like city hall in big city, like New York. But for the county with less population but bigger land, it’s inefficient for town to have all the function like city, e.g. New York city has its own police department, but for the suburb county, police department associate with county instead of city or town. It’s really flexible and complicate, partly because US was built upon Federalism, small to state, county, city, they all have their own legislative, so the system can be quite different across the country.

    Just stir it a little bit more, use New York city as example, New York city really include 5 boroughs, the New York city people constantly refered to is really only Manhattan Borough, and under each borough, there are smaller organization, it’s called city also… Getting confused yet?? ;)

    Not every city has boroughs, I remember it’s really came from Ireland. And these county-town-city system, it’s also partly inherited from UK.

    So there isn’t really one-to-one match between different China and US.

  7. Speaking of building bridges…like your other post…..I really think that you should visit other parts of the US…mid sized cities if you have the opportunity. California and especially Bay area is very different from 99% of the US. It would be a good cultural learning experience for your understanding of Americans.

    Most of America would probably appear, to someone from shanghai, to be boaring. But if you live there long enough you would see how ‘good’ a boaring place may be.

  8. SF is small in population due to it’s small land size. Surrounded by water on 3 sides and at only 47 square miles in size, SF city “filled up” with people a long time ago. Other cities are huge compared to SF like LA having 470 square miles of people. I think what you might be missing is the entire SF Bay Area which is enormous and contains millions of people. I’m fairly certain that the SF Bay Area has more people than the San Jose area.

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