Provincial cities (省轄市 or 省管市), sometimes translated provincial municipalities, are cities lesser in rank than direct-controlled municipalities of the Republic of China. They are governed by provinces directly and are one level above the most basic county-controlled cities (see Political divisions of the Republic of China).
In the People's Republic of China, the term "provincial cities" is used to refer to prefecture-level cities (see Political divisions of China#Prefecture level).
In the early 20th century, the criteria of being a provincial municipality, as stated in Laws on the City Formation (市組織法), included being the provincial capital as well as having a population of over 200,000, or over 100,000 if the city had a particular significance in politics, economics and culture. After moving to Taiwan, where many cities considered to be insignificant had large populations, the Republic of China government raised the limit to 500,000 in 1981 in the Scheme on the Local Rules in Various Counties and Cities of Taiwan Province (臺灣省各縣市實施地方自治綱要). It was later raised again to 600,000.
There are currently five provincial municipalities, all part of Taiwan Province, administered by the Republic of China: Keelung, Hsinchu, Taichung, Chiayi, and Tainan.
There were originally four more: Taipei and Kaohsiung were upgraded to direct-controlled municipalities, while Changhua and Pingtung were lowered to county-controlled cities. Chiayi and Hsinchu were temporarily lowered to county-controlled cities as well until 1982.