Journal of
Geography and Regional Planning

  • Abbreviation: J. Geogr. Reg. Plann.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2070-1845
  • DOI: 10.5897/JGRP
  • Start Year: 2008
  • Published Articles: 394

Full Length Research Paper

Spatial distribution of Chinese churches in the early 21st century

Kun Zhang
  • Kun Zhang
  • Laboratory of Geographic Information Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China.
  • Google Scholar
Songlin Zhang
  • Songlin Zhang
  • College of Surveying and Geo-Informatics, Tongji University, Shanghai 200092, China.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 20 March 2024
  •  Accepted: 02 May 2024
  •  Published: 31 May 2024


The development of Christianity in China has garnered significant interest from scholars across various disciplines, including religion, sociology, economics, and political science. This paper examines the spatial distribution of Chinese churches in the early 21st century using 10,579 samples collected from WebGIS. Two methods for analyzing spatial patterns, kernel density estimation, and spatial autocorrelation, are reported. The study reveals a significant concentration of churches in the coastal provinces of Southeast China, including Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian Provinces, and Shanghai City, which collectively account for 35.8% of the total. At the city level, local hotspots in terms of church count are mainly observed in these areas. Specifically, 25 cities exhibit a high-high cluster pattern, and these cities are interconnected. Furthermore, combined with census data from 2020, local hotspots in terms of the church-to-population ratio are observed not only in the southeastern coastal provinces but also in the northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin. The paper concludes that the "Bible Belt" in Southeast China has formed for historical reasons, as Christianity was predominantly introduced to China from the coastal provinces. The emergence of hotspots in Northeast China is attributed to the small population, which increases the church-to-population ratio.


Key words: Christian church, spatial distribution, kernel density estimation, spatial autocorrelation.