Geographic & Historic Maps on Wuwei, Silk Road and related Regions of Gansu Province.
This page was last updated on: April 22, 2014
The Wuwei Report
Introduction to Wuwei (武威)
Wuwei Landmarks & Monuments
Wuwei & Area Maps
Wuwei (Simplified Chinese: 武威) is a prefecture level City in the North-West of Gansu Province of China (P.R.C.). Situated just within what is counted as the Western Regions of the the nation of China, Wuwei was built at a historically strategic location which was both part of the Silk Road and crucial in the defense of China through the system of ″The Great Wall of China″.
To the West of Wuwei lies the so called Hexi Corridor (for its historical function also dubbed ″the neck of China″, a geographical feature that has shaped history as well as the Province of Gansu, to the north lies the Gobi Desert and Tengger Desert
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The beautiful Photo-Journey of Wang Miao and Shi Baoxiu, all the way from the Pamir Highlands in Central Asia, through North China to Beijing along the Silk Northern Route. A jewel of a Book !!
Please browse around the Town of Wuwei and wider Area using our Geographic & Historic Maps. Find out more about the City and Area through our many Photographic Reports on the main historic landmarks and Monuments and their rich history.
Among the many landmarks of Wuwei City, the Ganying Pagoda (感應塔) in the Huguo Monastery (護國寺) in Wuwei (威武) is one of the five remaining pagodas dated to the Tangut or Xixia Dynasty (1038 AD - 1227 AD). The known other examples are the Pagoda inside of the Chengtian Monastery (承天寺) and the double pagodas of the double monastery Bai-Kou (拜寺口寺) which stand some 50 kilometers from the City of Yinchuan in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and last the Pagoda of the Monastery of the Reclining Buddha (Wofosi 臥佛寺) in Zhangye further to the west inside the Hexi Corridor of Gansu Province.
Additional famous cultural relics from Wuwei include the Galloping Bronze Horse (铜奔马), Western Xia stele (西夏碑), White Tower Temple (白塔寺), Tianti Mountain Grotto (天梯山石窟), Luoshi Temple Tower (罗什寺塔), and the Wen Shrine (文庙).
Surface Area (of County): 33,000 km2 (12,741.4 square miles).
Population: The Total Population of Wuwei City and its Prefecture was around two million souls (1.930.200 according to the 2011 National Census).
Today's Wuwei is an considered a remote and out of the way location for Foreign visitors, especially tourist. Although there are certainly some worthwhile sites to visit, until very recently was difficult to reach and most tourist venturing this far west prefer to visit the city of Lanzhou and traveling on to more popular Silk Road destinations such as Jiayuguan, Dunhuang and to a lesser extend neighboring Zhangye City to the East.
Within the region however Wuwei fulfills an important connecting function. Situated on a central location between "The three western capitals" ; Lanzhou in Gansu, Xining in Qinghai (East Tibet), and Yinchuan in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region , Wuwei is an important regional business and transportation hub. Retaining many of its ancient functions of gateway to China given by its position along the Hexi Corridor and the Chinese section of the Silk Road, today Wuwei is served by the major Lanzhou to Urumqi Railroad as well as several national highways.
Part of the Eurasian Railway link that has already became known as the Iron Silk Road or new Silk Road, the Lanzhou to Urumqi railroad is a vital strategic transportation link. From Wuwei branch lines connect east- and north-eastward
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Map of China during the Rule of the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 221 AD) with the main trading roads of the Empire, the Silk Road and location of Huixian marked.
- both part of Inner-Mongolia Autonomous Region, to the East beyond the Tengger sandy desert lies the fertile valley of the Yellow River (Huang He) known as the Ningxia Plain (Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region), to the South lie the inner lands of China - the green part of Gansu Province with beyond the early Capital of Xi′An (Chang′An) and the most populous Province of Sichuan. Significantly, to the South-West lies Qinghai Province - which makes up the north-eastern part of the Tibetan High Plateaux, which was traditionally the home of various nomadic Tribes and the Tibetans. Although today′s official political line will deny such a thing, until at least 1949 AD all parts of the Tibetan plateaux were considered de facto foreign land, meaning that in principle few Han Chinese traveled there, except for the city of Xining where, since the 17Th Century, most Chinese activity on the otherwise hostile Tibetan Plateaux was centered.
Today wedged between the lands of the Mongolians, the Han Chinese, various tribes as well as the Tibetans, for most of History Wuwei was seen as a border town. Thus, Wuwei had a turbulent history.
Although the regions were probably inhabited for centuries if not millenia before, the official history now finds that Wuwei was settled some 5,000 years ago, the known history of Wuwei starts during the years of the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 221 AD). In those ancient times, before the birth of Christ, Wuwei was
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to connect to Yinchuan and another strategic cargo link, the historic Baolan Railway. A third and more minor railway connection reaches northward to pass along the Minqin Lake and travel via Donghu (East Lake) town into Inner-Mongolia to terminate at Monggon Bulag. Recently yet another railway connection was created to reach from Wuwei to Xining, the Capital of Qinghai Province (formerly Koko Nor region of East Tibet). This train serves useful purpose for the people of Wuwei and Xining as well as for tourists interested in visiting rare local ethnic minorities. It travels from Wuwei to the town of Huajian, after which it climbs into the mountains to Menyuan, home of the Tu Minority in Qinghai Province, then down to Xining City.
A Schematic Map of Historical Tibet, today Tibet Autonomous Region, Qinghai Province and a part of Sichuan province.
Included for reference are current Internationa Borders, provincial borders, locations and names of main cities and towns, main rivers and lakes, mountains,importantTibetan-BuddhistMonasteries and other places of significance.
Further Reports link to More Photos and History & Backgrounds of each City, Town or Ethnic Community of Yugur, Dongxiang Tibetan, Lhoba, Kazakh, Mongol or others where available.
Today Tibet only exists as Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Tourist visits require an aditional visa !
A SatelliteImage overview Map of the entireTibetanPlateaux including parts of bordering regions of Xinjiang-UyghurAR, Gansu Province, NingxiaHuiAR, Inner-MongoliaAR,Sichuan Province,andYunnan Province. Surrounding nations and Territories are: Myanmar (Burma), Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Kashmir and Pakistan.
This Map clearly defines Provinces and Regions, main mountain ranges, main rivers & lakes of the region, locations of main cities and landmarks.
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Once a famous pass on the Great Wall of China and an important stop-over point on the Silk Road leading from Xi′An (Chang′An) in the (South-) East, Wuwei's geography is dominated by three plateaus, the Loess plateaux of the Yellow River basin in central and northern China, the Tibetan High Plateaux, and the Mongolian Plateaux.
Elevation within Wuwei City Prefecture ranges from 1,020 meters in the North to 4,874 metres (3,350 to 15,991 ft) above sea-level in the South. The South is also where the famed ancient pass leading into China can be found. It passes underneath Tianti Shan.
As is clearly visible on adjacent satellite image of the central and norther regions of China and the flow of the Yellow River (Huang He), the Loess Plateaux and the Yellow River Basin lie mainly to the south-west and west of Wuwei, whereas a large green zone with alpine like grasslands
The Climate of Wuwei is similar to other parts of Gansu Province, especially the cities of the Hexi Corridor. Reflecting the conditions of the Deserts to the North and West, Wuwei climate is arid or semi-arid, with average rainfall between 60 to 610 mm (2.4 to 24 in). With dry winds usually traveling West to East, and an altitude of over 1500 meters, evaporation in the Wuwei region arnges from 1,400 to 3,000 mm (55 to 120 in), creating a net loss of water each year.
With sparse precipitation and infrequent cloud cover, life in Wuwei is literally sunny. As do other locations within the Hexi Corridor, Wuwei counts some 2200–3000 sunlight hours each year.
Although sunny and dry - especially in the summer season, Wuwei climate is certainly not too uncomfortable for travel. Average annual temperature is 7.8 °C (46.0 °F) is low, however with temperatures during summer in excess of 45.0 °C (113.0 °F) Winter temperatures can range in the extreme lows, with freezing nights that see temepratures dip to minus 20 Celcius. Altogether, Wuwei counts but 85 to a165 frost free days per year.
When traveling to Wuwei, make sure to bring along your sun glasses as well as some warm clothing for the evening.
and lush valleys extends to the south of Wuwei, on the other side of the mountain pass leading past Tianti Shan. The rim of the Tibetan Plateaux, which provides for the alpine like climates, lies just south and to the west of the City. Due west of Wuwei the last row of mountains that are part of the Tibetan plateaux run from north-west to south-east, shaping the southern wall of the earlier mentioned Hexi Corridor or ″neck of China″. The rim of the Tibetan Plateaux curves away to the South below Wuwei, shaping a pass between themselves and the Tianti Shan.
As for the Mongolian Plateaux; above and considerably to the north of Wuwei lies the Mongolian Plateaux, from where the altitudes slowly decline towards Wuwei. Although large parts of this region are
In Wuwei City Prefecture the main ethnic group are the Han Chinese. Other Ethnic Groups in the city are the Islamic Hui, the Mongol, the Tu - the majority of whom reside to the south of Wuwei in Qinghai Province- and the Tibetans. Although the central Government claimes that a staggering 38 0f all 56 ethnic groups of The peoples Republic of China are represented in Wuwei, this is barely noticeable. Apart from the main ethnic groups mentioned, only individual families and members represent the others of the 38.
Helpful Geographic Map of Inner-Mongolia showing the importance and pathway of the railroad Baotou Connection.
made up sandy and rocky deserts, these regions are also the source of two vital rivers, which flow down from the north and past Wuwei. In the past these rivers created a green oasis around the city of Wuwei, which then served as the first of a long link of oasis cities that led the Silk Road to the West, navigating between mountains and deserts for a 1000 miles until reaching Kashgar (Kashi). From there the roads traveled in many directions on to Central Asia.
The first river that flows from the Mongolian Territories to feed Wuwei is the Hei River (Ejin Gol, Black River). The second river, which flows from the desert is the Minqin River. This second river, the Minqin River is the most important river for Wuwei, creating the now nearly dried up Minqin Lake before flowing around to Wuwei before joining the Hei River. A bit further downstream the Hei River in turn becomes a tributary of the mighty yellow river, which flows from the Tibetan Plateaux at some distance south of Tianti Shan and Wuwei City. For a better understanding of the Hei River (Ejin Gol) and the Minqin River, as well as other geographic features in the vicinity of Wuwei, please have a browse of adjacent map of the Inner
As can be seen the Hei River flows past Zhangye and the Damaiyin Grasslands eastward to Wuwei. From the north-east above Wuwei, the Minqin River flows into the Hexi Corridor. Apart from the Minqin lake Region, all territories to the north-west, north and north-east of Wuwei are barren, consisting mainly of vast expanses of sand dunes interspersed with gravely expanses of nothing.
The mountains that surround Wuwei lie mainly to the south-west, south and south-east. There are no mountains to the north, only deserts.
The most important of these are the mountains that form the last edge of the Tibetan Plateaux. These Mountains, are locally known as the Qilian Shan (also known as Nan Shan) and extend roughly between Wuwei and the fortress that formed the end of the (Ming Dynasty Era (1368 AD - 1644 AD)) Great Wall of China at Jiayuguan. Standing almost seperatly from these to the south-east of Wuwei is the snowcapped Tianti Shan, creating a pass that leads to south-west into Chinese heartlands.
named as Liangzhou. (凉州). Although at first a heavily militarized border and trading town, it soon grew and became a starting point and was a key link in the building the trade and travel route of what later would become known as the (northern Silk Road).
and a number of important archaeological finds were uncovered from Wuwei, including ancient copper carts with stone animals. It became an important provincial capital during the Former Han Dynasty as the Hou Hanshu makes clear: "In the third year (170 BC), Meng Tuo, the Inspector of Liangzhou, sent the Provincial Officer Ren She, commanding five hundred soldiers from Dunhuang, who, with the Wuji Major Cao Kuan, and Chief Clerk of the Western Regions, Zhang Yan, brought troops from Yanqi (Karashahr), Qiuci (Kucha), and the Nearer and Further Kingdoms of Jushi (Turfan and Jimasa), altogether numbering more than 30,000, to punish Shule (Kashgar). They attacked the town of Zhenzhong (Arach) but, having stayed for more than forty days without being
able to take it, they withdrew. Following this, the kings of Shule (Yarkant and Kasghar) killed one another repeatedly while the Imperial Government was unable to prevent it."
In 121 BC Han emperor Wudi brought his cavalry here to defend the Hexi Corridor against the Xiongnu Huns. His military success allowed him to expand the corridor westward. Its importance as a stop along the Silk Road made it a crossroads of cultures and ethnic groups from all over central Asia. Numerous Buddhist grottoes and temples in the area attest to its role as a path for bringing Buddhism from India and Afghanistan to China.
Map Great Wall China - Layers of Dynasties and Era's
A Schematic Map of China and East-Asia, with a super-imposed schematic of the various layers of the Great Wall of China.
Features Pre-Qin Dynasty Wall, Qin Dynasty Wall, Western Han Great Wall of China, the (Northern) Jin Dynasty Great Wall and finally the Ming Dynasty Great Wall as mainly remains today.
Main Features are Names and locations location of Passes on the Great Wall of China, outer layer and inner layer. Includes Shanhai Pass, Huangya Guan (Yellow Cliff) Pass, JiYunGuan Pass, Ningwu Guan Pass, Pingxin Guan, YaMen Guan Pass, Pian Guan Pass, JiaYuGuan pass, YuMen Guan Pass (Jade Gate) and Yang Guan Pass.
Further included for reference are City names, geographical features of landscape and main mountain ranges. Updates occur several times a year adding new pass locations and photo-virtual tours of Passes throughout China.
During the Three Kingdoms period (184 AD - 280 AD), Liangzhou was governed by Qiang leader Ma Teng. After the death of Ma Teng, Ma Chao assumed the post and governed the province for a short time before it fell into the hands of Cao Cao, ruler of Wei Kingdom.
In the succesful Tang Dynasty Era ( 618 AD - 907 AD), the town of Wuwei lay along what was by then a well function trade route, essentially what was the most important economic connection within the Empire. Thus, Wuwei, as did other towns along the Silk Road as well as China in general, flourished.
During the interlude that went with the declining of powers of the
Tang Dynasty, Wuwei and the Hexi Corridor fell out of Chinese control in the 9Th and 10Th centuries, eventually seeing the Rise and prospering of the so-called Western Xia Dynasty (Xixia or Western Sunrise). Before that: Tibet (and Yugur).
In the ensuing period of the Rise and Rule of the Mongol Empire founded by Genghis Khan Wuwei found itself in the midst of battle between various parties. Although previously part of the Xixia Territories, Wuwei was captured by the troops of the Chinese Jin Dynasty in the aftermath of the war between Xixia and the Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan. A vital strategic city, the Han Chinese claimed it as defensable position, an
During the Qing Dynasty (1644 AD - 1911 AD) :
During the Qing Dynasty Era, when the Great Wall of China had been largely made redundant and the importance of transport overland via the Silk Road had significantly diminished Wuwei slowly fell in importance, eventually reverting back to what was nothing more than a backwater town.
During the Warlord Era in China (1911 AD - 1927 AD) and well after, the town of Wuwei fell within the realm of the so-called Ma Clique of Warlords. During the 1930s Wuwei became a battlefield of sorts as a result of the doomed ″Ningxia Campaign″, seeing battles between the armies of Warlord Ma Bufang (and brothers), however Wuwei would have to wait until the year 1949 AD before being formally reintegrated into the (Han) Chinese realm.
During the Peoples Republic of China :
After 1949 AD Wuwei passed back to Central Government control through the actions of the Peoples Liberation Army (P.L.A.).
Famous cultural relics from Wuwei include the Galloping Bronze Horse (铜奔马), Western Xia stele (西夏碑), White Tower Temple (白塔寺), Tianti Mountain Grotto (天梯山石窟), Luoshi Temple Tower (罗什寺塔), and the Wen Shrine (文庙).
essential move before the obvious onslaught that was to occur. Soon, the Mongols, having added Xixia as their Vasal State and later Province, would turn on the biggest prize of all, the rich cities in the heartlands of China.
During the Yuan Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD) Wuwei remained in function as a stop-over on the Chinese silk road. In the 14Th Century, between the years 1772 and 1795 AD, the town was thus visited by Marco Polo who followed this road, entering China from the West and Central Asia.
During the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD) :
During the Ming Dynasty Era, after the Mongols had been driven from the Chinese heartlands to return to their homelands in Mongolia and Inner-Mongolia, Wuwei once more fell within China and lay inside the protection of The Great Wall of China.