The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Not to be confused with the unrelated provinces of Hainan and Hunan
Hnn Shěng
Abbreviation: 豫 (pinyin: Y)
Origin of Name 河 h - (Yellow) River
南 nn - south
"south of the Yellow River"
Administration Type Province
Capital and
Largest City
CPC Henan Committee Secretary Xu Guangchun
Governor Li Chengyu
Area 167,000 km² (17th)
Population (2002)
 - Density
96,130,000 (1st)
576/km² (6th)
GDP (2002)
 - per capita
616.9 billion (5th)
6417 (19th)
Major Nationalities (2000) Han - 98.8%
Hui - 1%
Prefecture-level divisions 17
County-level divisions 159
Township-level divisions 2440
ISO 3166-2 CN-41

Henan (), is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is 豫 (pinyin: y), named after Yuzhou Province (豫州 Y Zhōu), a Han Dynasty province (zhou) that included parts of Henan. The name Henan means "south of the (Yellow) River" (Huang He).

With nearly 100 million people, Henan is the most populous province of China. It borders Hebei to the north, Shandong to the northeast, Anhui to the southeast, Hubei to the south, Shaanxi to the west, and Shanxi to the northwest.

Henan is often called Zhongyuan (中原 zhōngyun) or Zhongzhou (中州 zhōngzhōu), literally "central plains" or "midland"; this name is also broadly applied to the entire North China Plain. Henan is traditionally regarded as the source of Chinese civilization.



Northern Henan, along the Yellow River, was the core area of ancient China for at least the first half of Chinese history. The two cities of Luoyang and Kaifeng served as the capital cities of a long list of dynasties.

Archaeological sites reveal that prehistoric cultures such as the Yangshao Culture and Longshan Culture were active in what is now northern Henan. The Erlitou Culture , which has been controversially identified with the Xia Dynasty, the first Chinese dynasty as described in Chinese records, was also centered in Henan.

The first literate dynasty of China, the Shang Dynasty (16th century BC - 11th century BC), was centered in Henan. Their last capital, Yin, was located the modern city of Anyang, Henan.

In the 11th century BC the Zhou Dynasty arrived from the west and destroyed the Shang Dynasty. Their capital was located initially in Hao, to the west in what is now Shaanxi province. In 722 BC it was moved to Luoyang, Henan. This began the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, a period of warfare and rivalry. What is now Henan was divided into a variety of small states, including Chen, Cai , Cao , Zheng , Wei (衛) , and powerful Jin from Shanxi to the north. Later on these were replaced with Han and Wei (魏) . Throughout this period the state of Chu also held much of what is now southern Henan.

In 221 BC the state of Qin from what is now Shaanxi completed the unification of China, establishing the first unified Chinese state, the Qin Dynasty. They were followed by the Han Dynasty in 206 BC, which initially put its capital in Chang'an (now Xi'an, Shaanxi). The second half of this dynasty (the Eastern Han Dynasty) moved its capital to Luoyang (now Luoyang, Henan).

The late Eastern Han Dynasty saw war and rivalry between regional warlords. Henan was the power base of Cao Cao, who was based in Xuchang and eventually succeeded in unifying all of northern China under the Kingdom of Wei. Wei then put its capital in Luoyang. The Western Jin Dynasty that followed also put its capital at Luoyang.

In the 4th century nomadic peoples from the north invaded northern China. Henan then came under the rule of many successive regimes, including the Later Zhao, the Former Yan, the Former Qin, the Later Yan, and the Later Qin. The Northern Wei Dynasty, which unified North China in 439, moved its capital to Luoyang in 493.

Northern Wei splintered in 534 and would not be restored until 589, when the Sui Dynasty reunified China. Sui put its capital in Luoyang. The Tang Dynasty that followed moved the capital to Chang'an (modern Xi'an, Shaanxi). The Tang lasted for three centuries, but eventually succumbed to internal strife.

In the Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms that followed, Kaifeng was the capital of four dynasties: Later Liang Dynasty, Later Jin Dynasty , Later Han Dynasty, and Later Zhou Dynasty. The Song Dynasty that reunified China in 982 also had its capital at Kaifeng. Under Song rule, China entered a golden age of culture and prosperity, and Kaifeng was the largest city in the world [1]. In 1127, however, the Song Dynasty succumbed to Jurchen (Jin Dynasty) invaders from the north, and in 1142 had to cede away all of northern China, including Henan. By this point, cultural and economic development in the Yangtze River delta region (modern southern Jiangsu, northern Zhejiang, and Shanghai) had made that area into the new economic and cultural center of China, instead of Henan. Henan would forever lose this pre-eminent position.

The Jurchens kept their capital further north, at least until 1214, when they were forced to move the imperial court southwards to Kaifeng in order to flee the Mongol onslaught. In 1234 they succumbed to combined Mongol and Song Dynasty forces. Mongols took control, and in 1279 they conquered all of China.

Mongol rule over China ended in 1368. The Ming Dynasty that followed set up the equivalent of modern Henan province, with borders extremely similar to modern ones. The capital was, however, at Kaifeng instead of modern Zhengzhou. The Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) did not make any significant changes to this arrangement; nor did the Republic of China in their rule over Mainland China (1911-1949).

The completion of the Pinghan Railway (Beiping (Beijing) - Hankou) made Zhengzhou, a previously unnoted county town, into a major transportation hub. In 1954 the new People's Republic of China government moved the capital of Henan from Kaifeng to Zhengzhou. The PRC also established a short-lived Pingyuan Province consisting of what is now northern Henan and western Shandong, with capital Xinxiang. This province was abolished in 1952.

In 1958, Yashan in Suiping County , Henan became the first people's commune of China, heralding the beginning of the Great Leap Forward. In the subsequent famines of the early 1960s popularly attributed to the Great Leap Forward, Henan suffered terribly, with up to several million dead. [2]

The collapse of the Banqiao Dam and other dams in 1975 in southern Henan, following extraordinarily high levels of rainfall caused by a typhoon, is estimated to have killed 230,000 people across several counties. This was the most deadly dam-related catastrophe in human history.

In recent years the prevalence of "blood selling" (blood donation with pay) among poor villagers has put Henan in the spotlight of the nation, after it was exposed that AIDS villages , where most of the population is HIV positive, have resulted due to poor sterilization techniques. The initial coverup of the crisis by local officials, followed by national exposure, has put Henan in a somewhat negative light.


Henan is flat in the east and mountainous in the west and extreme south. The eastern and central parts of Henan form part of the North China Plain. To the northwest the Taihang Mountains intrude partially into Henan's borders; to the west the Qinling Mountains enter Henan from the west and end about halfway across Henan, with branches (such as the Funiu Mountains ) extending northwards and southwards. To the far south, the Dabie Mountains separate Henan from neighbouring Hubei province.

The Yellow River passes through northern Henan. It enters from the northwest, via the Sanmenxia Reservoir . After it passes Luoyang, the Yellow River is raised upwards via natural sedimentation and artificial construction onto a levee, higher than the surrounding land. From here onwards, the Yellow River divides the Hai He watershed to the north and the Huai He watershed to the south. The Huai He itself finds its origin in southern Henan. The southwestern corner of Henan, around Nanyang, is part of the drainage basin of the Han Shui River across the border in Hubei.

There are many reservoirs in Henan. Major ones include the Danjiangkou Reservoir on the border with Hubei, the Sanmenxia Reservoir , the Suyahu Reservoir , the Baiguishan Reservoir , the Nanwan Reservoir , and the Banqiao Reservoir .

Henan has a temperate continental climate, with most rainfall in summer. Temperatures average about 0 C in January, and 27 - 28 C in July.

Major cities:

Administrative divisions

Henan is divided into 17 prefecture-level divisions, all of them prefecture-level cities, as well as 1 directly administered county-level city.

The prefecture-level cities:

  • Zhengzhou (Simplified Chinese: 郑州市; Hanyu pinyin: Zhngzhōu Sh)
  • Sanmenxia (三门峡市 Sānmnxi Sh)
  • Luoyang (洛阳市 Luyng Sh)
  • Jiaozuo (焦作市 Jiāozu Sh)
  • Xinxiang (新乡市 Xīnxiāng Sh)
  • Hebi (鹤壁市 Hb Sh)
  • Anyang (安阳市 Ānyng Sh)
  • Puyang (濮阳市 Pyng Sh)
  • Kaifeng (开封市 Kāifēng Sh)
  • Shangqiu (商丘市 Shāngqiū Sh)
  • Xuchang (许昌市 Xǔchāng Sh)
  • Luohe (漯河市 Luh Sh)
  • Pingdingshan (平顶山市 Pngdǐngshān Sh)
  • Nanyang (南阳市 Nnyng Sh)
  • Xinyang (信阳市 Xnyng Sh)
  • Zhoukou (周口市 Zhōukǒu Sh)
  • Zhumadian (驻马店市 Zhmǎdin Sh)

The directly administered county-level city is more accurately described as a sub-prefecture-level city:

  • Jiyuan (济源市 Jǐyun Sh)

The 17 prefecture-level divisions and 1 directly administered county-level city of Henan are subdivided into 159 county-level divisions (50 districts, 21 county-level cities, and 88 counties; Jiyuan is counted as a county-level city here). Those are in turn divided into 2440 township-level divisions (866 towns, 1234 townships, 12 ethnic townships , and 328 subdistricts).

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


Henan is the most populous province of China. Just under 99% of Henan's population is Han Chinese, while Hui take up about 1%.


Henans economic total is the fifth in China. The speed of economic development has been increased by an average of about 10 percent each year for twenty years since the reform and opening to the outside. In 2002, its GDP was US$ 74,300,000,000, including 21 percent for the first industry, 48 percent for the second industry, and 31 percent for the tertiary industry. An industrial system with light textile, food, metallurgy, petrol, building materials, chemical industry, machinery and electronics as the main body has been formed. In 2002, the industrial sale total was US$ 44,600,000,000. Nearly 100 products, such as coal, industrial cord fabrics, fridges, aluminium, color glass cases, gold, meat products, tyres, chemical fibres, glass, cement, generated energy, etc take up an important part in the national market.

Henan is building open economy in an all-round way. 12 space ports, railway ports and road ports have been built. In 2002, the import and export total was US$ 3,200,000,000, including US$ 2,100,000,000 for export. 7111 foreign enterprises have been approved, foreign funds of US$ 10,640,000,000 have been used in contracts and the actual foreign fund used are US$ 5,300,000,000. Foreign exchanges are increasing continuously. Friendly provincial relationships have been established with 16 states(districts) in the U.S.A, Japan, Russia, France, Germany, etc. Some cities of Henan Province have established friendly relationships with thirty-two foreign cities.

Henan is an agricultural province, leading the provinces of China in wheat and sesame production, and is third place overall in terms of total grain output. Cotton, rice, and maize are also important crops in Henan.

There are several important centers of coal production in Henan, including Pingdingshan , Yima , and Jiaozuo . Luanchuan County in western Henan is an important center of molybdenum extraction. Electricity generation is another important industry of Henan.


Most of Henan speaks dialects of Mandarin. Linguists put these dialects into the category of "Zhongyuan Mandarin ". The northwestern corner of Henan is an exception, where people speak Jin dialects instead. The dialects of Henan are collectively called "the Henan dialect " in popular usage, with easily identifiable stereotypical features.

Henan opera is the local form of Chinese opera; it is also famous and popular across the rest of China. Henan Quju and Henan Yuediao are also important local opera forms.

Henan cuisine is the local cuisine, with traditions such as the Luoyang Shuixi (Luoyang "Water Table", consisting entirely of various soups, etc.); Xinyang Duncai (Xinyang brewed vegetables), and the traditional cuisine of Kaifeng .

Important traditional art and craft products include: Junci , a type of porcelain originating in Yuzhou noted for its unpredictable colour patterns; the jade carvings of Zhenping ; and Luoyang's Tangsancai ("Tang Three Colours"), which are earthenware figurines made in the traditional style of the Tang Dynasty.


In recent years there has appeared in China an extremely negative stereotype of Henan. People in Henan are stereotyped to be ignorant, backward, uncultured, lazy, dishonest and untrustworthy. Several recently publicized events / phenomena, such as AIDS villages as well as various sensational scandals and crimes, may have contributed to this stereotype. There are also widely circulated anecdotes of companies refusing job applicants from Henan outright, and Henan job applicants posing as natives of other provinces to avoid discrimination. Some Henan writers have also published books that defend the reputation of Henan.


Two important railway arteries, the Jingguang Railway (Beijing - Guangzhou) and the Longhai Railway (Lianyungang - Lanzhou), pass through Henan and cross at Zhengzhou, the provincial capital. The Jingjiu Railway (Beijing - Kowloon) also passes through Henan.

With the recent completion of the Zhengzhou - Xinxiang expressway, a continuous expressway now crosses Henan from north to south, as part of a longer line linking Beijing with Shenzhen. Another expressway crosses Henan from east to west, and more are being built.

Important airports include: Xinzheng Airport , of Zhengzhou.


Henan is located the Yellow River valley and a place where people of ancient times grew and developed. Earlier in the New Stone Age, the light of civilization had appeared and the delicate potteries in the Peiligang Culture and Yangshao Culture, and the character signs and musical instruments 8,000 years ago have filled the present world and the ancient times with wonders. There are seven big ancient capitals in China, three of which are located in Henan: Luoyang, Kaifeng and Anyang. Henan is one of the provinces which have the most historical relics in the country. There are 16 key national units of protecting historical relics and 267 provincial units of protecting historical relics. The over-ground historical relics are the second in China. Historical relics in museums takes up one eighth of those in China. And the underground historical relics are the first in China. In Hean Museum there are 120,000 historical relics, including over 40,000 rare ones. Henan is a perfect place for tourists to yearn for the past.

Miscellaneous topics

Professional sports teams in Henan include:

Colleges and Universities

[Public] (a partial list)

(河南中医学院) Shangqiu Normal Teacher's College

External links

Last updated: 09-12-2005 02:39:13