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Featured Maps! Autonomous Areas and Disputed Territories of China

Theme for the week: Autonomous Areas and Disputed Territories of China

September 10-28, 2018


China is the third largest country in the world at almost 9.6 million square kilometers (over 3.7 million square miles). To govern such a large landmass, it has been divided into smaller administrative areas. While most of these subdivisions are provinces, there are five autonomous regions and two special administrative regions.

Autonomous areas are defined as territories granted a degree of self-governance from an external authority. There are varying levels of autonomy, from granting certain rights and support to maintaining a separate political and economic system. There are also cases where autonomy is written into legislation but has not been applied. Typically, countries grant autonomy because the area in question is geographically distinct from the rest of the country or is mainly populated by a national minority.

Some of these areas are also disputed territories, claimed by different parties. Tibet’s sovereignty continues to be debated, and there have been calls for complete autonomy. Taiwan’s political status has yet to be agreed upon, with China claiming the island as a province and Taiwan claiming the island as separate from the People’s Republic.

Come to the Map Collection and look for this sign:



Title: Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo min zu fen bu tu

by Zhongguo she hui ke xue yuan. Min zu yan jiu suo; Zhongguo di tu chu ban she. (1999)

Call Number: MAP G7821.E1 1999 .Z5

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of China’s two special administrative regions, which is granted the highest degree of autonomy. It maintains its own economic, political, and social systems separate or different than those of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under the “One country, two systems” principle. This is due to Hong Kong’s status as a former British colony, in which removing British presence from the region stipulated that its capitalist economy system, currency, and legislative powers remained for the next fifty years. This agreement is set to expire in 2047. Hong Kong is now one of the most important financial centers and trade ports in the world.

Title: Hong Kong communications and trade

by Hong Kong. Lands Department. Survey Division. (1986)

Call Number: MAP G3201.P9 1986 .H6 Vertical File

Title: Hong Kong vegetation map = Xianggang zhi bei tu

by World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong. Hong Kong. Buildings and Lands Department. Survey & Mapping Office. (1993)

Call Number: MAP G7823.H45D2 1993 .W6

Title: Hong Kong

by Great Britain. Directorate of Military Survey. (1958)

Call Number: MAP G7940 1958 .G7

Title: Hong Kong

by Nelles Verlag. (1988?)

Call Number: MAP G7940 1988 .N3

Title: Geological map of Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories

by Great Britain. Directorate of Overseas Surveys. Hong Kong. Crown Lands & Survey Office. (1972)

Call Number: MAP G7941.C5 1972 .G7 + Explanatory Text

Title: [Population maps of Hong Kong]

by Chinese University of Hong Kong. Geographical Research Centre. (1968)

Call Number: MAP G7941.E2 1967 .H6

Title: [Hsiang-kang tao chi Pʻu-tʻai tao] = Hong Kong Island plus Po Toi Island

by Hong Kong. Lands Department. Survey Division. (1985)

Call Number: MAP G7942.H6 1985 .H6


Macau is China’s other special administrative region. It also is a former colony, returned to the PRC from Portugal in 1999 after over four centuries of colonial rule. Like Hong Kong, Macau has the highest degree of autonomy for the fifty years following its reunification. With the Individual Visit Scheme beginning in 2003, people have been allowed to travel between mainland China and Hong Kong and Macau. Macau has also been designated as the city for expansion of gambling-related tourism and is the gambling capital of the world.

Title: Região Administrativa Especial de Macau = [Aomen te bie xing zhong qu].

by Macau. Direcção dos Serviços de Cartografia e Cadastro. (2000)

Call Number: MAP G7945 2000 .M2

Title: Mapa turistico = Aomen = Macau tourist map

by Macau. Direcção dos Serviços de Turismo. (1990?)

Call Number: MAP G7946.E635 1990 .M2

Title: Land use in Macau

by Chiu, T. N. (1975)

Call Number: MAP G7946.G4 1975 .C4

Title: Mapa de Macau: utilização de Terreno 1983

by Edmonds, Richard L. (1984)

Call Number: MAP G7946.G4 1983 .E3

Title: Mapa da ilha da Taipa, Macau, utilizaa̐̃o de terrenos e turismo, 1984 = the island of Taipa, Macau, a land use and tourist map

by Edmonds, Richard L. Chung, Chan See. (1984)

Call Number: MAP G7946.G4 1984 .E3


Tibet is a province-level autonomous region, known as the Tibet Autonomous Region or the Xizang Autonomous Region. This level of autonomy grants Tibet more legislative rights, but it doesn’t maintain separate systems the way Hong Kong and Macau do. It was formally established in 1965, about five years after the 1959 Tibetan uprising and thirteen years after Tibet’s incorporation into the PRC. This incorporation into the mainland has remained a highly charged and controversial issue. Many Tibetans view Chinese presence in Tibet as a foreign occupation, while many Chinese view Tibet as a rightful part of China.

Title: Tibet, south central (Lhasa region) : with detailed routes – driving distances – altitudes, Lhasa, Chusul, Nagartse, Gyantse, Shigatse, Lhatse, Xegar, Tingri, Gutsuo, Nyalam, Zhangmu, Dathmandu

by Himalayan MapHouse. (1998)

Call Number: MAP G7890 1998 .H4 + Explanatory Text

Title: Geological map of the Academia Sinica-Royal Society geotraverse route across the Xizang-Qinghai (Tibetan) Plateau

by Kidd, W. S. F. (1988?)

Call Number: MAP G7891.C5 s500 .K4

Title: Xizang ban kuai gou zao jian zao tu

by Tibet (China). Di zhi kuang chan ju. Di zhi ke xue yan jiu suo. Zhou, Xiang.; Di zhi chu ban she. (1984)

Call Number: MAP G7891.C55 1984 .T4 + Explanatory Text


Taiwan is claimed by both PRC and itself, officially known as the Republic of China (ROC). In 1683, it was annexed by the Qing dynasty but was later ceded to Japan in 1895 after the Sino-Japanese War. After the fall of the Qing dynasty, the ROC was established in China in 1912. With Japan’s surrender to the Allies in 1945, Taiwan returned to the ROC. Because of this, the ROC retreated to Taiwan when the Communists won the Chinese Civil War in 1949. Both governments assert themselves as the legitimate authority to Taiwan, and cross-strait relations regarding the political status of Taiwan remains an issue today.

Title: Taiwan sheng quan tu. Taiwan Province

by China (Republic : 1949- ). Lian qin zong bu. Ce liang chu. United States. Army Map Service. (1964?)

Call Number: MAP G7910 1964 .C4

Title: Map of Taiwan

Author unknown (197-?)

Call Number: MAP G7910 1970 .M2

Title: Geologic map of Taiwan

by Jing ji bu zhong yang di zhi diao cha suo (China) He, Chunsun. (1986)

Call Number: MAP G7911.C5 1986 .H6

Title: Taiwan di ti gou zao tu = Tectonic map of Taiwan

by China (Republic : 1949- ). Jing ji bu. (1978)

Call Number: MAP G7911.C55 1978 .C4

Title: Taiwan population distribution, 1965

by Xu, Meiling. Burwell, Patricia.; Association of American Geographers. (1969)

Call Number: MAP G7911.E2 1965 .H7


Map Collection: Location and Hours

The Map Collection room is normally open to the public in the basement (Lower Level) of Shields Library, Monday-Friday, 1:00-5:00 p.m. However, our hours change around the academic calendar and the holiday season.  During intersession, September 17-25, the Map Collection room is open 1:00-4:00 p.m.  To see the most accurate schedule, please visit this link: click here.

Contact the Special Collections Department for map related questions by email at or by phone at 530-752-1621.

Post created by Dawn Collings and Jeanelle Wan.


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