Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2017, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (10): 1155-1168.doi: 10.1007/s11442-017-1428-y

• Orginal Article •     Next Articles

Process and proposal for comprehensive regionalization of Chinese human geography

Chuanglin FANG1,2(), Haimeng LIU1,2, Kui LUO1,2, Xiaohua YU1,2   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2017-01-07 Accepted:2017-03-10 Online:2017-10-25 Published:2017-09-06
  • About author:

    Author: Fang Chuanglin (1966-), PhD and Professor, specialized in urban geography, urban agglomeration and the resource and environmental effects of urbanization. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    Major Program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41590840, No.41590842


The comprehensive regionalization of Chinese human geography is based on the rules governing regional differentiation of Chinese physical geographic factors. Based on regional differences and similarities in human factors, this study divides the whole country into two levels of relatively independent, complete and organically linked human geographic units. As a fundamental, comprehensive, cutting-edge, practical and important task, the comprehensive regionalization of human geography highlights the characteristics, regional and sub-regional features, complexity and variety of spatial differences between factors of Chinese human geography. It is capable of promoting the development of human geography based on local conditions, providing basic scientific support to national and local development strategies, such as the Belt and Road Strategy, new urbanization and environmental awareness, and creating a sound geopolitical environment in key areas. Using results from existing physical and human geographic zoning studies, and in accordance with the principles of synthesis, dominant factors, the relative consistency of the natural environment, the relative consistency of social and economic development, the consistency of the regional cultural landscape, the continuity of spatial distribution and the integrity of county-level administrative divisions, and taking as its basis the division of human geography into 10 major factors (nature, economy, population, culture, ethnicity, agriculture, transportation, urbanization, the settlement landscape and administrative divisions), this paper constructs an index system for the comprehensive regionalization of Chinese human geography through a combination of top-down and bottom-up zoning and spatial clustering analysis. In this study, Chinese human geography is divided into eight regions and 66 sub-regions. The eight human geography regions are (I) Northeast China, (II) North China, (III) East China, (IV) Central China, (V) South China, (VI) Northwest China, (VII) Southwest China, and (VIII) Qinghai and Tibet. This zoning proposal fills gaps in studies involving the non-comprehensive regionalization of Chinese human geography. Each human geography region and sub-region has different topographical, climatic, ecological, population, urbanization, economic development, settlement landscape, regional cultural and ethno-religious attributes. This proposal on the comprehensive regionalization of Chinese human geography dovetails closely with previous studies on comprehensive regionalization in Chinese physical geography, Chinese economic zoning, and Chinese agricultural zoning. It shows that, under the dual roles of nature and humans, there are certain rules of regional differentiation that govern the comprehensive regionalization of Chinese human geography.

Key words: Chinese human geography, comprehensive regionalization, spatial clustering, human geography regions, human geography sub-regions