- Not to be confused with the neighboring province of Shaanxi
Shanxi (; Postal System Pinyin: Shansi) is a northern province of the People's Republic of China. Its one-character abbreviation is Jin (晋 pinyin jìn), after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn Period. Shanxi has an area of 150,000 km² and a population of 32.97 million.
Shanxi's name literally means "mountains' west", which refers to the province's location west of the Taihang Mountains . Shanxi borders Hebei to the east, Henan to the south, Shaanxi to the west, and Inner Mongolia to the north. The capital of Shanxi is Taiyuan.
Shanxi was the location of the powerful state of Jin during the Spring and Autumn Period (722 BC - 403 BC), which underwent a three-way split into the states of Han, Zhao and Wei in 403 BC, the traditional date taken as the start of the Warring States Period (403 BC - 221 BC). By 221 BC all of these states had fallen to the state of Qin, which established the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC).
The Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) ruled Shanxi as the province (zhou) of Bingzhou (并州 Bìng Zhōu). During the barbarian invasions of the Sixteen Kingdoms period (304 - 439, Shanxi was hotly disputed along with the rest of North China, and present-day Datong served for a time as the capital of the Northern Wei (386 - 534), a Xianbei kingdom that went on to rule nearly all of North China.
During the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) and after, the area was called Hédōng (河東), or "east of the (Yellow) river". During the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period (907 - 960) Shanxi came under the Northern Han, the only one of the ten kingdoms in North China. Shanxi was formally established with its present name and approximate borders by the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644).
For centuries Shanxi was a center of trade and banking, and the term "Shanxi merchant" (晋商 jìnshāng) was once synonymous with wealth; the well-preserved city of Pingyao, in Shanxi, also shows many signs of its former dominance as a center of trade and banking. In modern times, however, Shanxi has fared far less well. Today it depends on coal and is one of the poorer provinces (by both GDP and GDP per capita) of China.
Shanxi is located on a plateau, which is in turn made up of higher ground to the east (Taihang mountains ) and the west (Luliang mountains ), and a series of valleys in the center through which the Fen River flows. The highest peak is Mount Wutai (Wutai Shan) at an altitude of 3058 m. The Fen and Qin rivers, tributaries of Huang He (or Yellow River), drain much of the province; the north is drained by tributaries of the Hai River, such as Sanggan and Hutuo rivers.
Shanxi has a continental monsoon climate, and is rather arid. Annual precipitation averages around 350-700 mm. There is very little precipitation in winter and spring.
Shanxi is divided into 11 prefecture-level divisions, all of them prefecture-level cities:
Taiyuan (Simplified Chinese: 太原市, Hanyu Pinyin: Tàiyuán Shì)
Datong (大同市 Dàtóng Shì)
- Yangquan (阳泉市 Yángquán Shì)
- Changzhi (长治市 Chángzhì Shì)
- Jincheng (晋城市 Jìnchéng Shì)
- Shuozhou (朔州市 Shuòzhōu Shì)
- Jinzhong (晋中市 Jìnzhōng Shì)
- Yuncheng (运城市 Yùnchéng Shì)
- Xinzhou (忻州市 Xīnzhōu Shì)
- Linfen (临汾市 Línfén Shì)
- Luliang (吕梁市 Lǚliáng Shì)
The 11 prefecture-level divisions of Shanxi are subdivided into 119 county-level divisions (23 districts, 11 county-level cities, and 85 counties). Those are in turn divided into 1386 township-level divisions (564 towns, 634 townships, and 188 subdistricts).
See List of administrative divisions of Shanxi for a complete list of county-level divisions.
Shanxi depends mostly on agriculture, mainly the cultivation of wheat, but also corn and sorghum.
Shanxi is very rich in natural resources, including coal and bauxite. Shanxi has, in fact, one third of China's coal, and this has made Shanxi a leading producer of coal within China.
Industry in Shanxi is mostly centered around coal, power generation, metal refining, and other heavy industries.
In 2001, Shanxi had a gross domestic product of 178 billion RMB, and a per capita income of 5460 RMB. By market exchange rates, these convert to US$21.5 billion and US$660 respectively.
The population is mostly Han Chinese with minorities of Hui Chinese, Mongols, and Manchus.
People in most regions of Shanxi speak dialects of Jin, a subdivision of Chinese. People in the southwest speak dialects of Mandarin. (Jin is sometimes classified as a subdivision of Mandarin. For more information, see Chinese spoken language.)
Vinegar is a very important part of Shanxi cuisine .
Popular forms of traditional entertainment include Shanxi Opera (Jinju), Puju , Beilu Bangzi , Shangdang Bangzi and Shanxi Yangge .
In addition to the major cities there are also the following sights:
Ancient City of Pingyao is a town and a World Heritage Site near Taiyuan noted for its preservation of many features of northern Han Chinese culture, architecture, and way of life during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
Yungang Grottoes, a World Heritage Site in Datong consist of 252 caves noted for their collection of 5th and 6th century Buddhist cave art.
Mount Wutai (Wutai Shan) is the highest point in the province. It is known as the residence of the bodhisattva Manjusri, and as a result is also a major Buddhist pilgrimage destination, with many temples and natural sights.
Mount Hengshan (Heng Shan), in Hunyuan County, is one of the Wu Yue (Five Great Peaks) of China, and is also a major Taoist site.
Dazhai is a village in Xiyang County. Situated in hilly, difficult terrain, it was a holy site during the Cultural Revolution, when it was set out to the entire nation as exemplary of the hardiness of the proletariat, especially peasants.
Major colleges and universities in Shanxi include:
All of the above universities are under the authority of the provincial government. Institutions not offering full-time bachelor programs are not listed.
Last updated: 08-17-2005 16:41:57