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This page contains information related to The People's Republic of China. For the Republic of China, see Taiwan mapping project.
Those who want to map in mainland China should inspect the recommended Chinese tagging guidelines.
China, Eastern Asia

latitude: 39, longitude: 104
Browse map of China 39°00′00.00″ N, 104°00′00.00″ E
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External links:
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China is a country in Eastern Asia at latitude 39°00′00.00″ North, longitude 104°00′00.00″ East.

Welcome to the China mapping project!

If you want to read the Chinese version of this page, please select Chinese in the square checkbox on the page, or click here:中国

This is a recommended mapping and tagging tutorial for mainland China:China Tagging Guidelines


See also: Restrictions on geographic data in China on Wikipedia

According to the Surveying and Mapping Law of the People's Republic of China, private surveying and mapping activities without authorization[a] are illegal in mainland China. "Since at least 2007, it has been effectively illegal for foreigners to operate a GPS device in China."[1]

China's state media has released a string news articles about illegal mapping efforts as a threat to national security. The article also mentions news which had been announced before, that any foreigner collecting geographical data without permission will be "severely punished".

This seems to outlaw the entire OSM project and any participation or contribution. Presumably the government wouldn't go to the hassle of pursuing lawbreakers who have contributed data so far. However, the law may be actively enforced in Xinjiang, Tibet and near sensitive facilities.[2] "Most of the violations publicized so far have involved [research] in Xinjiang. Working in Tibet, meanwhile, has become almost impossible."[1]

Content regulations/Legality of content

There are some less important laws that manage map content in China. In the context of OSM, it makes the project just a bit more illegal.

  • 公开地图内容表示若干规定 ("some rules on the content presentation of public maps") of 2003 by the Bureau Surveying and Mapping (BSM) prohibits military=*, depth=*, and any airport not on a list of airports for public view. Also some stuff about territorial completeness.
  • 公开地图内容表示补充规定(试行)("supplementary rules on the content presentation of public maps, trial version") of 2009 from the BSM prohibits voltage=*, maxheight=*, maxweight=*, maxwidth=*, surface=* and utility=*. Also no prisons, drug rehabs, dams, or any locations more precise than 50 meters.
  • 地图管理条例 ("map management regulations") from 2015 by the State Council prohibits storing map data out of China. That's the entire OSM right there.

Coordinate system

Most online map services in China, including foreign map services that are available in China, use a set of obscured and transformed coordinates system, "GCJ-02", for their maps in order to comply with instructions from relevant departments. Please note that OSM do not use such kind of coordinate system and thus please do not include data manipulated into such coordinate system or use imagery that are transformed into such coordinate when mapping in OSM.

See also: Restrictions on geographic data in China on Wikipedia

Administrative divisions of China

Main article: China/Boundaries

The administrative division is quite strict in China and the importance and size of a place is almost entirely determined by its administrative level. The general OSM classification (with just city, town, village), however, is not really sufficient to reflect these levels. (Further reading: History of the term City (市) in China)

In order to reflect the Chinese administrative division better, a supplementary tag is used to denote this: place:CN=*. The classification (with hopefully self-explanatory names) is for places, not replacing the standard OSM tagging.

Provincial administrative regions/Province level

boundary=administrative + admin_level=4 area

Provinces 省 (shěng) 22
Anhui 安徽 relation 913011
Fujian 福建 relation 553303
Gansu 甘肃 relation 153314
Guangdong 广东 relation 911844
Guizhou 贵州 relation 286937
Hainan 海南 relation 2128285
Hebei 河北 relation 912998
Heilongjiang 黑龙江 relation 199073
Henan 河南 relation 407492
Hubei 湖北 relation 913106
Hunan 湖南 relation 913073
Jiangsu 江苏 relation 913012
Jiangxi 江西 relation 913109
Jilin 吉林 relation 198590
Liaoning 辽宁 relation 912942
Qinghai 青海 relation 153269
Shaanxi 陕西 relation 913100
Shandong 山东 relation 913006
Shanxi 山西 relation 913105
Sichuan 四川 relation 913068
Yunnan 云南 relation 913094
Zhejiang 浙江 relation 553302
Autonomous Regions 自治区 5
Tibet 西藏自治区 relation 153292
Xinjiang 新疆 relation 153310
Guangxi 广西 relation 286342
Inner Mongolia 内蒙古 relation 161349
Ningxia 宁夏 relation 913101
Province-level Municipalities 直辖市 4
Beijing 北京 relation 912940
Tianjin 天津 relation 912999
Shanghai 上海 relation 913067
Chongqing 重庆 relation 913069
Special Administrative Regions (SAR) 特别行政区 (Tèbié Xíngzhèngqū) 2
Hong Kong
(see Hong Kong)
香港 (Xiānggǎng) relation 913110
Macau 澳门 (Àomén) relation 1867188

地级行政区/Prefecture level

boundary=administrative + admin_level=5 area

7 Prefecture (地区; dìqū)— These were formerly the dominant second-level division, which is why this administrative level is often called "prefecture-level". However, they were replaced for the most part by prefecture-level cities from 1983 to the 1990s. Today, prefectures exist mostly in Xinjiang and Tibet.
30 Autonomous Prefectures (自治州; zīzhìzhōu)— Are prefectures with one or more designated ethnic minorities. These are mostly to be found in China's western regions.
293 Prefecture-level Cities (地级市; dìjíshì)

place=city + capital=5 node — It form the vast majority of prefecture-level divisions. Prefecture-level cities are generally composed of an urban center and surrounding rural areas much larger than the urban core, and thus are not "cities" but municipal in the strict sense of the term.

3 Leagues (; méng)— are effectively the same as prefectures, but they are to be found only in Inner Mongolia. Like prefectures, leagues have mostly been replaced with prefecture-level cities. The unique name is a holdover from earlier forms of administration in Mongolia.

县级行政区/County level

boundary=administrative + admin_level=6 area

place=city + capital=6 node (The capital of the prefecture-level administrative region use capital=5) (DO NOT USE population=* if population is greater than 400,000)

(as of 2021)

1,301 Counties (; xiàn)— are the most common county-level subjects. Counties have continuously existed since Warring States Period, much earlier than any other level of government In China. Sinology literature, xian often translated as "districts" or "prefectures".
117 Autonomous Counties (自治县; zìzhìxiàn)— are counties with one or more designated ethnic minorities. These analogous to autonomous regions (at the province-level) and prefectures prefecture-level).
414 County-level cities (县级市; xiànjíshì)— are, like prefecture-level cities, not "cities" in the traditional sense of the word, since they are actually large administrative regions that cover both urban and rural areas. It was popular for counties to become county-level cities in the 1990s, though this has since been halted.
977 Districts (市辖区; shìxiáqū)— another type of county-level division. These were formerly the subdivisions of urban areas, consisting of built-up areas only. In recent years, however, many counties have been converted into districts, so that today districts are often just like counties, with towns, villages, and farmland.
49 Banners (; )— which are The same as counties except in name. name is a holdover from earlier forms of administration Mongolia.
3 Autonomous Banners (自治旗; zìzhìqí)— which are The same autonomous counties except in name. name is a holdover from earlier forms of administration Mongolia.
1 Forestry Areas (林区; línqū)— a special county-level subject forestry district currently there is only one forestry area (Shennongjia) located in Hubei province.
1 Special Districts (特区; tèqū)— another special county-level subject exclusively located in Guizhou province.

新区/New Areas

国家级新区/State-level new areas

boundary=administrative + admin_level=7 + place=city or place=suburb depending on population and importance

As of 2019, there are 20 New Areas (新区; xīn qū) in China. Although designated as state-level, they are administratively part of prefecture-level Cities (地级市). As they do not replace counties, and their boundaries may cross county boundaries, they are tagged using a different admin_level=*.

乡级行政区/Township level

boundary=administrative + admin_level=8 area

place=town + capital=8 node (a settlement) or

place=suburb node (part of the settlement)

Public Service Centres (公共服务中心; gōnggòng fúwù zhōngxīn)— comparable to 街道 subdivision.*
8,101 Townships (; xiāng)— in smaller rural areas division they are divided into this subject.
966 Ethnic Townships (民族乡; mínzúxiāng)— in a small one or more designated ethnic minorities rural areas division they are divided into this subject.
21,013 Towns (; zhèn)— in larger rural areas division they are divided into this subject.
8,519 Subdistricts (街道办事处; jiēdàobànshìchù)— in a small urban areas division they are divided into this subject.
11 District Public Offices (区公所; qūgōngsuǒ)— are a vestigial level of government. These once represented an extra level of government between the county- and township-levels. Today there are very few of these remaining and they are gradually being phased out.
153 Sumus (苏木; sūmù)— are the same as townships, but are unique to Inner Mongolia.
1 Ethnic Sumus (民族苏木; mínzúsūmù)— are the same as ethnic townships, but are unique to Inner Mongolia.

村级自治组织/Village level

boundary=administrative + admin_level=10 area

In built-up areas
115k Neighborhood Committees (社区居民委员会; jūmínwěiyuánhùi)
  Neighborhoods / Communities attach to others (社区; shèqū) Use place=quarter
  Neighborhoods / Communities standalone (社区; shèqū) Use place=village
492k Village Committees ((村民委员会; cūnmínwěiyuánhùi)
  Administrative Villages (行政村; xíngzhèngcūn) Use place=village
   Natural Villages / Village groups (自然村 / 村民小组; zìráncūn / cūnmínxiǎozǔ) Use place=hamlet


Name tagging

Road Types

NOTE: This classification is considered too vague. Please talk about it in its talk page.

Housing development (Xiǎoqū)

小区 - panoramio (1).jpg

Tag the boundary with place=neighbourhood and optionally landuse=residential.[3]

For roads within the Xiǎoqū use access restrictions to stop through traffic from being routed through. (access=permissive, access=private, or usually, only for motor vehicles motor_vehicle=private)

Examples: [1] way 453297764, way 298474996


Not all addresses will be easy to fit in the OSM standard tags, below is a suggested way. If in doubt, use addr:full. For detailed reference see the addr key page.


Urban address with street name

addr:country CN
addr:province 甘肃省
addr:city 兰州市
addr:district 七里河区
addr:street 光华街
addr:housenumber 33
addr:postcode 730050

Rural address, no street name

addr:country CN
addr:province 甘肃省
addr:city 兰州市
addr:district 七里河区
addr:subdistrict 阿干镇
addr:place 高林沟
addr:housenumber 210
addr:postcode 730050

Generics in Chinese

When one of the following is present in a name, it is customary to translate them when using name:en, instead of just using Pinyin without accents, e.g. 天安门广场 becomes Tiananmen Square, not Tiananmenguangchang. In case English literature uses a different transliteration, this should prevail.


Street types

Note: The following content has local views and is for reference only. If available, the official name should be used

  • 胡同 (Hutong) : lanes (Beijing, Tianjin)
  • 大院 (Dayuan) Courtyard
  • 巷 (Xiang) : Alley, Lane
  • 道 (Dao) : Byway
  • 巷 (Xiang) : Alley, Lane
  • 街 (Jiē) : Street
  • 大街 (Dajie) : Main street
  • 路 (Lu) : Road
  • 桥 (Qiáo) : Bridge (special: wind-rain bridge)
  • 大道 (Dadao) : Boulevard, Avenue
  • 步行街 (Bùxíngjiē) : pedestrian street
  • 条 (Tiao) : Measure word for a street
  • 小 (Xiao) : Small
  • 大 (Da) : Large
  • 西 (Xī) : West
  • 东 (Dōng) : East
  • 南 (Nán) : South
  • 北 (Běi) : North
  • 中 (Zhōng) : Middle
  • 外 (Wài) : Outer
  • 内 (Nèi) : Inner
  • 后 (Hòu) : Behind
  • 前 (Qián) : In front
  • 号 (Hào) : (house)number, not translated (12号 becomes addr:housenumber=12)
  • 邮编 (Yóubiān) : postcode/zipcode
  • 大厦 (Dàshà) : building (addr:building=*)
  • 栋 (Dòng): classifier for buildings, for example 1栋 can be translated as 'Building 1' or simply '1'.
  • 广场 (Guǎngchǎng) : (public/city) square
  • 公园 (Gōngyuán) : (Public) park
  • 花园 (Huāyuán) : Garden
  • 寺 (Sì) : Temple
  • 政府 (Zhèngfǔ) : Government (town hall)
  • 人民 (Rénmín) : People's
  • 站 (zhàn) : station (train, bus...)
  • 岛 (dǎo) : island
  • 河、江、水 (hé, jiāng, shuǐ) : river
  • 湖 (hú) : lake
Fortification semantics
  • 屯 (tun ) : garrison/village
  • 寨 (zhai) : camp/usually not fortified, could be civil or military
  • 营 (ying) : military camp, some fortresses are called ying but it's a very common village name.
  • 堡 (bao) : fort/fortress, mostly fortified but further from the Great Wall, the size reduces and some are just villages.
  • 城 (cheng) : city/fortress: most likely that you can find a fortress with this name; also 土成 (tucheng# earthen fort), 城子 (chengzi, inside the fort), 古城/故城 (gucheng, old fort), 老城 (laocheng, also old fort), 旧城 (jiucheng, former fort), 城关 (chengguan, the fortified district of a city)

Also, villages along the Great Wall tend to have these words as part of their names: 边 (bian) : frontier 墙 (qiang) : wall

The following are often part of place names, but usually not literally translated (e.g. 石家庄 becomes Shijiazhuang, not Stone Family Village)

  • 峡 (Xiá) : gorge
  • 沟 (Gōu) : ditch/gully
  • 湾 (Wān): river bend
  • 营 (Yíng) : camp, barracks
  • 家 (Jiā) : family, home
  • 庄(Zhuāng): village
  • 山 (Shān): mountain, peak

Possible Sources


MapWorld Services (in Chinese) Terms and conditions (服务条款)

MapWorld Imagery at zoom levels 16-18 may be used as a reference or confirmation for Bing Aerial/Mapbox Satellite (so do not trace directly from MapWorld!). This is a state-run service and the only service in China where true WGS-84-based[4] Web Mercator Projection is provided.

View image levels 16-18 and Bing Aerial/Mapbox Satellite can be referenced alternately. This is the map service of the country's business, and it's the only thing that can be projected.

**According to the terms and conditions, Tianditu cannot be used for mapping or tracing, please acknowledge the potential copyright issues before you make any progress. You may be blocked by administrator.

According to the current terms, the aerial imagery cannot be used for mapping, and the administrator may ban you.


MapWorld Imagery API will no longer available without validated API Key after January 1st, 2019. A Mainland of China mobile number (+86) is required while sign up.


  • In JOSM(recommended), open "imagery preference" and add a TMS layer with the following url:
tms[18]:{z}&TILEROW={y}&TILECOL={x}&tk=<your ticket(server)>
  • Or in iD, click "customizing backgroud" and enter the same excluding the prefix tms[18]. That will cause empty tiles beyond the level 18, which is not convenient to do some precise edition, and that is why JOSM or other editor can restrict the zoom level is recommended.


Most recent imagery available, very helpful for newly developed areas. See Sentinel-2#Usage_in_editors.


GNS Place names data

See: China/GNS Place names data

AND数据/AND data

See: China/AND data

China Data Center

See: Katpatuka/CDC email traffic

USGS treecover

USGS forest cover imports have been done in a few areas, most notably north of Chongqing (Huaying mountain range) [2], Beichuan County in Mianyang relation 2787457. It is rather time-intensive to process manually correct the data however.

OSM map in Chinese

Tracestrack provides a map with use of capital=*

Useful Links

Related projects

Notes and references

  1. Among other things, the authorization process requires "professional personeel and equipment", plus "sound technical and quality assurance system, security measures, information security and confidentiality management system, as well as mapping results and data archive management system." (S&M Law Article 27). Article 36 of the same law requires surverying results to be submitted to the State.
  1. 1.0 1.1 Foreigners Run Afoul of China's Tightening Secrecy Rules, Science, 25 Jan 2013 (doi:10.1126/science.339.6118.384)
  4. It's technically CGCS2000, which is very very close to WGS84. Not to be confused with the obfuscated GCJ-02 they are forcing everyone else to use.