Trekking through China’s “Long Tail”

The whizzes at Chinfographics have recently designed some interesting graphics showing how China’s enormity also creates anonymity for its many large cities. This is especially true for cities in the vast interior of China, far from the coastal mega-cities such as Shanghai or Shenzhen that are so well known in the West. While researching my book, I trekked through many of these huge, unheard of cities.

Ever heard of Baotou (pop. 1.97 million) or Taiyuan (pop. 2.71 million)? Probably not, but you certainly know St. Petersburg, Frankfurt and Denver – cities of a comparable size. Chinfographics aptly illustrates the enormity and relative anonymity of China’s biggest cities.

Of the 60 cities with a population over one million, the so-called “Long Tail” of the Chinese dragon, I trekked through about a quarter. Here they are in order of size, biggest to smallest: Shanghai (pop. 14.2 million), Beijing, Xi’an, Harbin, Taiyuan, Lanzhou, Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou, Baotou, Urumqi, Hohhot, Datong and Luoyang (pop. 1.5 million).

60 Cities with more than 1 Million inhabitants