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Not to be confused with the unrelated province of Hubei

Hebei (河北 Hanyu Pinyin: Hbĕi, Wade-Giles: Ho-pei, Postal system pinyin: Hopeh), is a northern province of the People's Republic of China. Its one-character abbreviation is 冀 (pinyin: j), named after Jizhou Province (冀州 J Zhōu), a Han Dynasty province (zhou) that included southern Hebei. The name Hebei means "north of the (Yellow) River", even though its modern border does not touch the Yellow River at any point.

Zhili (直隸 Hanyu Pinyin: Zhl, Wade-Giles: Chih-li), meaning "Directly Ruled (by the Imperial Court)", was an old name of Hebei before 1928.

Hebei completely surrounds Beijing and Tianjin municipalities (which also border each other). It borders Liaoning to the northeast, Inner Mongolia to the north, Shanxi to the west, Henan to the south, and Shandong to the southeast. Bohai Bay of the Yellow Sea is to the east.

Hběi Shěng
Abbreviation: 冀 (pinyin: J)
Hebei is highlighted on this map
Origin of Name 河 h - (Yellow) River
北 běi - north
"Yellow River's north"
Capital and Largest City Shijiazhuang
 - Total
 - % of national
 - % water
Ranked 12th
187,700 km²
 - Total (2001)
 - % of national
 - Density
Ranked 6th
 - Total (2002)
 - % of national
 - per capita
Ranked 6th
607.66 billion
Administration Type Province
CPC Hebei Committee Secretary Bai Keming
Governor Ji Yunshi
Prefecture-level divisions 11
County-level divisions 172
Township-level divisions 2207
ISO 3166-2 CN-13


Plains in Hebei were the home of Peking man, a group of Homo erectus, 450 thousand years ago.

During the Warring States Period (403 BC - 221 BC), Hebei was under the rule of the states of Yan (燕 yān) in the north and Zhao (赵 zho) in the south. The Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) ruled the area under two provinces (zhou), Youzhou Province (幽州 Yōuzhōu) in the north and Jizhou Province (冀州 Jzhōu) in the south. At the end of the Han Dynasty, most of Hebei came under the control of warlords Gongsun Zan in the north and Yuan Shao further south; Yuan Shao emerged victorious out of the two, but he was soon defeated by rival Cao Cao (based further south, in modern-day Henan) in the Battle of Guandu in 200. Hebei then came under the rule of the Kingdom of Wei (one of the Three Kingdoms), established by the descendants of Cao Cao.

After the invasions of northern nomadic peoples at the end of the Western Jin Dynasty, the chaos of the Sixteen Kingdoms and the Northern and Southern Dynasties ensued. Hebei, firmly in North China and right at the northern frontier, was a battleground throughout this period. This continued until the Sui Dynasty reestablished China's unity in 589.

During the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) the area was formally designated "Hebei" (Yellow River's north) for the first time. During the earlier part of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, Hebei was home to rebel provincial governor Li Cunxu , who eventually overthrew the Later Liang Dynasty (907 - 923) to establish the Later Tang Dynasty (923 - 936). The next dynasty to come, the Later Jin Dynasty under Shi Jingtang , ceded much of modern-day northern Hebei to the Khitan Liao Dynasty in the north; this territory, called The Sixteen Prefectures of Yanyun, became a major problem for China's defense against the Khitans for the next century, since it lay within the Great Wall.

During the Northern Song Dynasty (960 - 1127), the sixteen ceded prefectures continued to be an area of hot contention between Song China and the Liao Dynasty. The Southern Song Dynasty that came after abandoned all of North China to the Jurchen Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) in 1127, including Hebei.

The Mongol Yuan Dynasty divided China into provinces but did not establish Hebei as a province. The Ming Dynasty ruled Hebei as "Beizhili" (北直隸, pinyin: Běizhl), meaning "Northern Directly Ruled (by the Imperial Court)", because there was a southern counterpart covering present-day Jiangsu and Anhui. When the Manchu Qing Dynasty came to power in 1644, they abolished the southern counterpart, and Hebei became known as "Zhili".

After the Republic of China was founded in 1911, warlords took over much of China, and Zhili came under the Zhili Clique of warlords. In 1928, the name was changed to its current name to reflect that fact that it had a standard provincial administration.

The founding of the People's Republic of China saw several changes: the region around Chengde, previously part of Rehe Province (historically part of Manchuria), and the region around Zhangjiakou, previously part of Chahar Province (historically part of Inner Mongolia), were merged into Hebei, extending its borders northwards beyond the Great Wall. The capital was also moved from Baoding to the upstart city of Shijiazhuang, and for a short period, to Tianjin.

On July 28, 1976, Tangshan was struck by a powerful earthquake, the Tangshan earthquake, the deadliest of the 20th century with over 240,000 killed. A series of smaller earthquakes struck the city in the following decade.


Hebei is bordered by the Yan Mountains (Yan Shan) in the north and Taihang Mountains (Taihang Shan) in the west, while the southeast forms part of the North China Plain. The highest peak is Mount Xiaowutai with an altitude of 2882 m. Hebei borders Bohai Sea on the east. The Hai He watershed covers most of the province's central and southern parts, and the Luan He watershed covers the northeast.

Hebei has a continental monsoon climate, with annual rainfall of 400 to 800 mm. It often rains heavily in summer. Spring may be a time for sandstorms.

Major cities:

Administrative divisions

Hebei is made up of 11 prefecture-level divisions, which are all prefecture-level cities:

  • Shijiazhuang (石家庄市 : Shjiāzhuāng Sh)
  • Tangshan (唐山市 : Tngshān Sh)
  • Qinhuangdao (秦皇岛市 : Qnhungdǎo Sh)
  • Handan (邯郸市 : Hndān Sh)
  • Xingtai (邢台市 : Xngti Sh)
  • Baoding (保定市 : Bǎodng Sh)
  • Zhangjiakou (张家口市 : Zhāngjiākǒu Sh)
  • Chengde (承德市 : Chngd Sh)
  • Cangzhou (沧州市 : Cāngzhōu Sh)
  • Langfang (廊坊市 : Lngfng Sh)
  • Hengshui (衡水市 : Hngshuǐ Sh)

These are subdivided into 172 county-level divisions (22 county-level cities, 108 counties, 6 autonomous counties and 36 districts). Those are, in turn, divided into 2207 township-level divisions (1 district public office, 937 towns, 979 townships, 55 ethnic township s, and 235 subdistrict s).

For a complete list of the county-level divisions of Hebei, see List of administrative divisions of Hebei.


Main agricultural productions are grain and cotton. Cereal crops product include wheat, corn, millet and Chinese sorghum. Hebei is responsible for most of the cotton produced in China. Other industrial crops like peanut, soya bean and sesame are also produced.

Large quantities of coal and iron can be found in Hebei.

Hebei's industries mainly include textiles, coal, steel, iron, engineering industry, chemical production, petroleum, electricity, ceramics and food.

In 2003:
GDP: 709.54 billion Renminbi
GDP per capita : 10508 Renminbi
GDP growth rate: 11.6%
Employment by industry (primary/secondary/tertiary) (2001): 49.6% / 25.4% / 25.0%


The population is mostly Han Chinese with minorities of Mongol, Manchu, Korean, and Hui Chinese.

In 2001:
Birth rate: 11.16 births/1000 population
Death rate: 6.18 births/1000 population
Censored page: 103.63 males/100 females
Average family size: 3.59
Illiteracy rate (total/male/female): 8.59% / 6.47% / 10.76%


Dialects of Mandarin are spoken over most of the province, except along the western border, where dialects of Jin-yu, another subdivision of Chinese, are spoken instead.
(Jin-yu is sometimes classified as a subdivision of Mandarin. For more information, see Chinese spoken language.)

Traditional forms of musical performing arts in Hebei include Pingju , Hebei Bangzi , and Cangzhou Kuaiban Dagu . Traditional arts and crafts include Dingzhou porcelain .


The east end of the Ming Great Wall is located on the coast at Shanhaiguan, near Qinhuangdao. The Ming Great Wall crosses the northern part of the province. Beidaihe, located nearby, is a popular beach resort.

The Chengde Mountain Resort and its outlying temples are a World Heritage Site. Also known as the Rehe Palace, this was the summer resort of the Qing Dynasty emperors.

Also, there are Qing Dynasty imperial tombs at Zunhua (East Qing Tombs ) and Yixian (West Qing Tombs ). Tnese are also part of a World Heritage Site.

The Zhaozhou Anji Bridge , built during the Sui Dynasty, is the oldest stone arch bridge in China, and one of the most significant examples of pre-modern Chinese civil engineering.

Baoding, the old provincial capital, contains the historical Zhili Governor's Residence .

Xibaipo , a village about 90 km from Shijiazhuang, was the location of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the headquarters of the People's Liberation Army during the decisive stages of the Chinese Civil War between May 26, 1948 and March 23, 1949, at which point they were moved to Beijing. Today, the area houses a memorial site.

Having the most number of national highways, Hebei's total highway length is more than 40 thousand kilometers. Hebei also has the highest coverage of railways in the country. There are railways to Guangzhou, Harbin, Baotou, Nanjing, Shanghai, Jiujiang, Jinan and others. Shijiazhuang and Shanhaiguan are two main railway transportation centers. Qinhuangdao is one of the busiest port in northern China. Shijiazhuang is also the center of air transportation.

Miscellaneous topics

Sports teams based in Hebei include:

Chinese Football Association
There are no teams based in Hebei.

Chinese Basketball Association
There are no teams based in Hebei.

Colleges and Universities

Under the national Ministry of Education:

Under other national agencies:

Under the provincial government:

External links

  • Hebei, China (in Simplified Chinese): official government website
  • China Internet Information Center

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 11:41:53
Last updated: 05-06-2005 01:27:49