The online population in China's rural areas grew 127.7 percent last year, outpacing the 38.2 percent urban expansion, according to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).
About 29.17 million out of the country's 73 million new netizens, or 40 percent of the total, were from the countryside, taking the total Internet population in rural areas to 52.62 million.
CNNIC attributed the expansion to strong economic growth and government support for rural network construction.
However, it said, most Internet surfers are still from cities, because rural residents tend to have lower incomes and less education.
Among rural residents who have yet to go online, 53.3 percent don't know how to use computers or the Internet and 23.1 percent lack Internet facilities.
Lack of access is the major problem: 25.52 million, or 48.5 percent of the rural Internet population, have to browse at Internet cafes, according to the report.
Lower-income adolescent men -- those in middle schools and high schools -- comprised most of the rural netizens, it said.
The report also showed that 61.4 percent of rural netizens go online to get news and 56.6 percent use search engines, 15 percentage points and 18 percentage points, respectively, fewer than urban areas, said the report.
China's Internet population outnumbered that of the United States at the end of February, reaching 221 million.
The proportion of Internet users among the population in China was 16 percent at the end of 2007, lower than the 19.1 percent global average.