Man In Pub Fact – 698 Cities In China

Geezer says to me at the Tolbooth Tavern:

“Go on – ask this: How many cities are there in China?”

I said “What’s the answer”

He said “Six hundred and ninety-eight. Go on – ask it.”

Obviously I decline.

I can’t just turn man-in-a-pub facts as questions just like that… I need proof. So I’m looking it up now.

First stop is a simple Google search for “how many cities are there in China”, which brings up and this information:

The administrative divisions of China designate the cities into three levels. Provincial-level cities include municipalities and the country’s Special Administrative Regions, county-level cities and prefectural-level cities. China has a total of 662 cities that fall into these three categories, with Shanghai boasting the largest population with over 22 million residents as of 2016. The country has a total of 34 provinces that house its cities.

So there’s a pretty straight figure: 662 cities.

In terms of questions the trouble with this fact on its own is that its bit bland. With no sense of scale (how big are these “cities” – its kind of meaningless.

A better fact is quickly found further down the page:

In total, China has over 160 cities that have a population of over 1 million people.

That’s more like it – this would make a great tiebreaker.

But – wait a second… a few paragraphs later we get this:

China has 65 cities with more than a million people,

Hang on – where did all those other cities, nearly a hundred of them, disappear to?

Thing is, such variance within a couple of paragraphs is no surprise to your seasoned quiz writer.

City sizes have always given grief for setters and trivia hounds, because boundaries are hard to define.

You can have the administrative area of a city go only so far, and that limits the population to a certain number but then the urban sprawl runs right into the next area.

In real life there is no gap but administratively it is not the city. This is often called the Metropolitan area and sometimes the people who live there are counted as being part of the city and sometimes they are not.

In local terms this would be something like Musselburgh which is technically East Lothian but is completely connected to Edinburgh and is served by Edinburgh buses.

This is well summed up by a Wikipedia list of largest cities.

As you can see, Chongqing in China is top of the list but how many people live there?

The answer can be 30 million or 8 million, depending on how you look at it.

The three figures for Lagos vary wildly.

So that’s why you won’t get many questions about city populations, they’re just too difficult to pin down.

Going back to the man-in-a-pub fact, the number of cities in one particular country and region is easier to pin down and may make nice tiebreakers or multi-choice questions.

We’ll see.

Anyway – if you have some unverified fact that you think I should know, then come and tell me in the pub while I’m doing the quiz.

This works best if you’re a wee bit pished and use a certain amount of vehemance to tell me your fact.


See you soon.


Dr Paul

For cheats and hints to win Dr Paul quizzes in Edinburgh, get the weekly email.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.