November 2013

Comparing Shaanxi Province to Great Britain

Whilst looking at a map of China during data gathering, we noticed that the shape of China’s Shaanxi Province is uncannily similar to that of Great Britain. We put together this animation to demonstrate:

If you’re wondering, Shaanxi is the red one and Great Britain is the green one!

We thought that this be a great way to look at how China’s provinces are actually more comparable to entire countries than to individual states in other countries. We’ll actually look at England rather than the United Kingdom as a whole, though, as this makes a closer point of comparison for Shaanxi.

Some quick facts show the how England and Shaanxi are somewhat comparable:

  • Shaanxi’s population of 37 million (source) is about 70% of England’s 53 million (source).
  • Shaanxi is over 50% larger than England by area: 206,000 km² vs England’s 130,000 km² (source).
  • Shaanxi’s capital city, Xi’an, has a population of 6.5 million: only a fifth less than London’s 8.3 million (source).

Of course, England’s economic situation is vastly different to that of Shaanxi Province. However, Chinese provinces can be compared to other countries economically, for example:

  • Yunnan’s GDP of 110 billion USD is higher than neighbouring Vietnam’s 104 billion.
  • Hunan’s 232 billion USD GDP is higher than Singapore’s 228 billion.
  • Fujian’s GDP of 206 billion USD is higher than Ireland’s 205 billion.
  • (sources)

And what about China as a whole? In some aspects, it makes more sense to compare China to the whole of Europe than to another individual country:

  • Europe’s area of 10 million km² is just over China’s 9.7 million km².
  • China’s population of ~1.35 billion dwarfs Europe’s 733 million (source, source).
  • China’s population accounts for close to 1 in 5 human beings, whilst Europe’s is closer to 1 in 10 (source, source)
  • The EU’s GDP of 16 trillion USD is comparable to China’s 13 trillion (source, source).

This is certainly an interesting angle to take when trying to understand the scale of China compared to other regions in the world. Its provinces are often like countries, and as a whole it is more akin to a continent or economic region than a country.

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