A huge accumulation of domestic waste has caused serious environmental contamination in rural areas of developing countries (RADIC). The characteristics and management of domestic waste are carefully discussed, based on field surveys and a literature review. The results indicate that the generation in most of RADIC is less than the median of 0.521 kg day-1 per capita in China, and much smaller than in rural areas of developed countries (RADEC). Organic waste and inert waste with an accumulative mass percentage of 72.31% are dominant components of domestic waste in the rural areas of China. There are trends of increasing amounts of kitchen waste, paper/cardboard, and plastic/rubber and a decreasing trend of ash waste. The RADIC composition of domestic waste had a high content of organic waste and a low content of recyclable waste compared to the RADEC. Domestic waste has good compressibility and a light bulk density ranging from 40 to 650 kg m-3. The moisture, ash, combustible, and calorific values of domestic waste were 53.31%, 18.03%, 28.67%, and 5368 kJ kg-1, respectively. The domestic waste has an abundance of nutrients including organic matter (39.05%), nitrogen (1.02%), phosphorus (0.50%), and potassium (1.42%). In RADIC, domestic waste can be used as an agricultural manure only after it has been collected and sorted for the potential risk of heavy metal accumulation. Based on these characteristics of domestic waste and the different situations of rural areas, four waste management modes including centralized treatment, decentralized treatment, group treatment, and mobile treatment are designed and discussed.