Online Encyclopedia Search Tool

Your Online Encyclopedia


Online Encylopedia and Dictionary Research Site

Online Encyclopedia Free Search Online Encyclopedia Search    Online Encyclopedia Browse    welcome to our free dictionary for your research of every kind

Online Encyclopedia


Zhejiang (浙江, Hanyu Pinyin: Zhjiāng, Wade-Giles: Che-chiang, Postal system pinyin: Chehkiang or Chekiang) is a southeastern coastal province of the People's Republic of China. The word Zhejiang was the old name of the Qiantang River , which passes through Hangzhou, the provincial capital.

Zhejiang borders Jiangsu province and Shanghai municipality to the north, Anhui province to the northwest, Jiangxi province to the west, and Fujian province to the south; to the east is the East China Sea, beyond which lie the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.

Zhjiāng Shěng
Abbreviation: 浙 (pinyin: Zh)
Zhejiang is highlighted on this map
Capital and Largest City Hangzhou
 - Total
 - % of national
 - % water
Ranked 24th
101,800 km²
 - Total (2001)
 - % of national
 - Density
Ranked 10th
 - Total (2002)
 - % of national
 - per capita
Ranked 4th
767.0 billion
Administration Type Province
CPC Zhejiang
Committee Secretary
Xi Jinping
Governor Lu Zushan
Prefecture-level divisions 11
County-level divisions 90
Township-level divisions 1598
ISO 3166-2 CN-33


Zhejiang was outside the sphere of influence of early Chinese civilization during the Shang Dynasty (16th century BC - 11th century BC). Instead it was populated by peoples collectively known as the Yue, such as the Dongyue and the Ouyue . Starting from the Spring and Autumn Period, a state of Yue emerged in northern Zhejiang that was heavily influenced by Chinese civilization further north, and under King Goujian of Yue it reached its zenith and was able to wipe out, in 473 BC, the state of Wu further north, a major power at the time. In 333 BC, this state was in turn conquered by the state of Chu further west; and the state of Qin in turn subjugated all the states of China under its control in 221 BC, thereby establishing a unified Chinese empire.

Throughout the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC) and Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD), Zhejiang was under the control of the unified Chinese state, though it was a frontier area at best, and southern Zhejiang was not under anything more than nominal control, it being still inhabited by Yue peoples with their own political and social structures. Near the end of the Han Dynasty Zhejiang was home to minor warlords Yan Baihu and Wang Lang , who fell in turn to Sun Ce and Sun Quan, who eventually established the Kingdom of Wu (222 - 280), one of the Three Kingdoms.

From the 4th century onwards China began to be invaded from the north by nomadic peoples, who conquered all of North China and established the Sixteen Kingdoms (though "16" is a symbolic figure and there were more) and the Northern Dynasties. As a result, massive numbers of refugees arrived from the north and poured into South China, which hosted the refugee Eastern Jin Dynasty and Southern Dynasties; this accelerated the sinicization of South China, including Zhejiang.

The Sui Dynasty reestablished unity and built the Grand Canal of China, which linked Hangzhou to the North China Plain, providing Zhejiang with a vital link to the centers of Chinese civilization. The Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) presided over a golden age of China. Zhejiang was, at this time, part of the Jiangnandong Circuit , and there began to appear references to its prosperity. Later on, as the Tang Dynasty disintegrated, Zhejiang constituted most of the territory of the regional kingdom of Wuyue .

The Northern Song Dynasty re-established unity in around 960. Under the Song Dynasty, the prosperity of South China began to overtake North China. After the north was lost to the Jurchens in 1127, Zhejiang had its heyday: the modern provincial capital, Hangzhou, was the capital of the Han Chinese Southern Song Dynasty which held on to South China. Renowned for its prosperity and beauty, it may have been the largest city in the world at the time. [1] Ever since then all the way to the present day, north Zhejiang has, together with neighbouring south Jiangsu, been synonymous with luxury and opulence in Chinese culture. Mongol conquest and the establishment of the Yuan Dynasty in 1279 ended Hangzhou's political clout, though Hangzhou continued to prosper; Marco Polo visited the city, which he called "Kinsay", and called the "finest and noblest city" in the world". [2]

The Ming Dynasty which drove out the Mongols in 1368 were the first to establish Zhejiang Province, and the borders of the province have since changed little.

South Zhejiang is mountainous and ill-suited for farming, and has traditionally been poor and underdeveloped. The economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping, however, have brought change to that region unparalleled across the rest of China. Driven by hard work, an entrepreneuring spirit, low labour costs, and an eye for the world market, south Zhejiang (especially cities such as Wenzhou and Yiwu) has become a major center of export. This, together with the traditional prosperity of north Zhejiang, has allowed Zhejiang to leapfrog over several other provinces and become one of the richer provinces of China.


View of the West Lake in Hangzhou from the mountains to the north-west
View of the West Lake in Hangzhou from the mountains to the north-west

Zhejiang consists mostly of hills, which account for about 70% of its total area. Altitudes tend to be highest to the south and west, and the highest peak of the province, Huangyajian Peak (1921 m), is found in the southwest. Mountain ranges include the Yandang Mountains , Tianmu Mountains , Tiantai Mountains , and Mogan Mountains , which traverse the province at altitudes of about 200 - 1000 m.

Valleys and plains are found along the coastline and rivers. The north of the province is just south of the Yangtze delta , and consists of plains around the cities of Hangzhou, Jiaxing, and Huzhou , where the Grand Canal of China enters from the northern border to end at Hangzhou; another relatively flat area is found along the Qujiang River , around the cities of Quzhou and Jinhua . Major rivers include the Qiantang River and the Oujiang River . Most rivers carve out valleys in the highlands, with plenty of rapids and other features associated with such topography. Famous lakes include the West Lake of Hangzhou and the South Lake of Jiaxing.

There are over 3000 islands along the ragged coastline of Zhejiang. The largest, Zhoushan Island, is the third largest island of Mainland China, after Hainan and Chongming. There are also many bays, which Hangzhou Bay being the largest.

Zhejiang has a warm temperate climate. Average annual temperature is around 15 - 19 C, average January temperature is around 2 - 8 C, and average July temperature is around 27 - 30 C. Annual precipation is at about 1000 - 1900 mm. There is plenty of rainfall in early summer, and by late summer Zhejiang is directly threatened by typhoons forming in the Pacific.

Major cities:

Administrative divisions

Zhejiang is divided into 11 prefecture-level divisions, all of them prefecture-level cities:

The 11 prefecture-level divisions of Zhejiang are subdivided into 90 county-level divisions (32 districts, 22 county-level cities, 35 counties, and 1 autonomous county). Those are in turn divided into 1598 township-level divisions (783 towns, 526 townships, 14 ethnic township s, and 275 subdistrict s).

See List of administrative divisions of Zhejiang for a complete list of county-level divisions.


The province is traditionally known as the "Land of Fish and Rice". True to its name, Rice is the main crop, followed by wheat; North Zhejiang is also a center of aquaculture in China, and the Zhoushan fishery is the largest fishery in the country. Main cash crops include jute and cotton, and the province also leads the provinces of China in tea production (The renowned Longjing tea is a product of Hangzhou). Zhejiang is also a producer of silk, for which it is ranked second among the provinces.

Zhejiang's manufacturing is centered upon electromechanical industries, textiles, chemical industries, food, and construction materials. In recent years Zhejiang has followed its own development model, dubbed the "Zhejiang model ", which is based on prioritizing and encouraging entrepreneurship, an emphasis on small businesses responsive to the whims of the market, large public investments into infrastructure, and the production of low cost goods in bulk for both domestic consumption and export. As a result, Zhejiang has made itself one of the richest provinces, and the "Zhejiang spirit" has become something of a legend within China. However, some economists are now worrying that this model is not sustainable, in that it is inefficient and places unreasonable demands on raw materials and public utilities, and also a dead end, in that the myriad small businesses of Zhejiang producing cheap goods in bulk are unable to move to more sophisticated or technologically-oriented industries.

Ningbo, Wenzhou, Taizhou and Zhoushan are important commercial ports. The Hangzhou Bay Bridge is being constructed between Haiyan County and Cixi ; once complete, it will be the longest sea-crossing bridge in the world.


Han Chinese make up the vast majority of the population. The She and Hui nationalities are the two largest minorities.


A boat on one of Shaoxing's waterways, near the city center. North Zhejiang, known as the "Land of Fish and Rice", is characterized by its canals and waterways.
A boat on one of Shaoxing's waterways, near the city center. North Zhejiang, known as the "Land of Fish and Rice", is characterized by its canals and waterways.

Zhejiang is mountainous and has therefore fostered the development of many individual localized cultures. Linguistically speaking, Zhejiang is extremely diverse. The inhabitants of Zhejiang speak Wu, a subdivision of spoken Chinese, but the Wu dialects are very diverse, especially in the south, where one valley may speak a dialect completely unintelligible to another valley a few kilometers away. Non-Wu dialects are spoken as well, mostly along the borders; Mandarin and Hui dialects are spoken on the border with Anhui, while Min dialects are spoken on the border with Fujian. (See Hangzhou dialect , Ningbo dialect , Wenzhou dialect , Taizhou (Zhejiang) dialect , Jinhua dialect , Quzhou dialect for more information.)

Zhejiang is the home of Yueju , one of the most prominent forms of Chinese opera. Yueju originated in Shengzhou and is traditionally performed by actresses only, in both male and female roles. Other important opera traditions include Yongju (of Ningbo), Shaoju (of Shaoxing), Ouju (of Wenzhou), Wuju (of Jinhua ), Taizhou Luantan (of Taizhou ) and Zhuji Luantan (of Zhuji ).

Longjing is one of the most prestigious, if not the most prestigious Chinese tea, originating in Hangzhou. Hangzhou is also renowned for its silk umbrellas and folding fan s. Zhejiang cuisine (itself subdivided into many traditions, including Hangzhou cuisine ) is one of the eight great traditions of Chinese cuisine.

Since ancient times, north Zhejiang and neighbouring south Jiangsu have been famed for their prosperity and opulence, and simply inserting north Zhejiang place names (Hangzhou, Jiaxing, etc.) into poetry gave an effect of dreaminess, as was indeed done by many famous poets. In particular, the fame of Hangzhou (as well as Suzhou in neighbouring Jiangsu province) has led to the popular saying: 上有天堂,下有蘇杭 (above there is heaven; below there is Suzhou and Hangzhou), a saying that continues to be a source of pride for the people of these two still prosperous cities. In short, south Jiangsu and north Zhejiang have a unique and esteemed place in traditional Chinese culture.

Famous people

The following are famous people with their heritage in Zhejiang; they may not necessarily be born in the province.


People from Zhejiang are stereotyped to be characters with a poor grasp of Standard Mandarin but an incredible inclination for entrepreneurship and hard work.


Tourist destinations in Zhejiang include:

  • West Lake, in Hangzhou
  • Baoguo Temple, the oldest intact wooden structure in Southern China, 15km north of Ningbo.
  • Qita Temple , Ningbo.
  • The ancient capital of Hangzhou.
  • Shaoxing, Wuzhen and other waterway towns.
  • Tiantai Shan , a mountain important to Zen Buddhism.
  • Putuo Shan, one of the most famous Buddhist mountains of China. Chinese Buddhists associate it with Guan Yin.
  • Yandang Shan , a scenic area north of Wenzhou.

Colleges and universities

External links

Province-level divisions administered by the People's Republic of China

Flag of the People's Republic of China


Anhui | Fujian | Gansu | Guangdong | Guizhou | Hainan | Hebei | Heilongjiang | Henan | Hubei | Hunan | Jiangsu | Jiangxi | Jilin | Liaoning | Qinghai | Shaanxi | Shandong | Shanxi | Sichuan | Yunnan | Zhejiang

Autonomous Regions:

Guangxi | Inner Mongolia | Ningxia | Tibet | Xinjiang


Beijing | Chongqing | Shanghai | Tianjin

Special Administrative Regions:

Hong Kong | Macau

¹ See also: Political status of Taiwan

Last updated: 02-08-2005 08:06:02
Last updated: 02-28-2005 02:04:08