China has 23 provinces, including Taiwan. For a non-native of China or non-Chinese speaker, it looks like close to insurmountable to actually know all the names and locations of all of these 23 provinces. Hence, with much credit to my wife, an easy way to remember has been discovered.
But before you jump into the ‘I want to know now’ scream, a few critical points that you must know before we start – Bei, Nan, Dong, Xi, or simply North, South, East, West. Know these four words and half of the provinces are down! You can even learn a bit of Chinese words by knowing these four words and combining with Jing (or capital city). Beijing – capital city of the north, Nanjing – capital city of the south, Xijing – capital city of the west (now named Luoyang), Dongjing – capital city of the east (Tokyo or the old name of Kaifang).
Ok, shall we start? Out of the 23 let’s remove Taiwan first. There are only 22 left now.
The map of China is like a Chicken or a hen. The head of the chicken is occupied by three states (provinces); Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning. 19 left now. Then we go for north south states of four; Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan. Then we are left with 15.
We then head to east west combos; Shanxi, Shangdong, Guangxi, Guangdong. Add one extra ‘a’ to Shanxi and we have a neighbouring state Shaanxi. Five more down and we are left only with 10.
Now we hit the gang of 4 Jians; Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Jiangsu, covering the east coast. Add similar sounding Gangsu to this and we are down to five.
Finally we remember starting from our neighbour Yunnan, heading northwards towards, Sichuan, Guizhou, Chongqing and Qinghai. Finally just memorise the last one, towards the east, Anhui. Hey you listed the last six instead of only five! Thats because Guanxi, in the east west combo, does not belong under provinces, but instead under five ethnic autonomous regions together with Inner Mongolia, Xinjian, Tibet (aka Xizang) and Ningxia.
Hopefully, that would give you an easier time to remember the names of provinces of China. Don’t forget the two self administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau too.