As mentioned Shanxi Provinces is region of Loess Hills and high mountains, not only the Taihang Mountain Range but also of Wutai Shan and Heng Shan. With some 70% of the province situated at a higher altitude, Shanxi Province has a cold climate.
In addition, being situated due east of various desert regions and generally downwind from arid central regions, Shanxi Province sees almost no rainfull and usually only sparse snow in winter. The annual average rainfal cross the province is between 400-600 millimeters. Due to the lack of rainfall, which over the recent two decades has only decreased, and the presence of the Yellow River basin, Ordos Desert Gobi Desert and Tenggeli Desert in the north and west, sand storms are frequent in Shanxi Province. Their frequency has been increasing due to ongoing mining and industrial activities in Ningxia, Inner Mongolia and Gansu Province.
In most Chinese Provinces, one of the best times to travel is the spring season, when the flowers bloom and beauty is to be found everywhere. The same goes for Shanxi Province. Mind you, normally speaking the cold in Shanxi Province can last well into the April month, or traditionally even into the first days of May. However, climatic conditions have changed considerably in the last two decades, and the spring has arrived several weeks early in the last few years (2013, 2014). During the early spring months temperature differences between night and day are large.
After but a short spring time the Summer months arrive swiftly with days that are generally hot, if not steamy in Shanxi Province. Average temperature in the hottest month is around 26° Celsius with highs in the 30's and temperatures much depending on location and altitude.
Although tourists can rejoice in a general lack of rainfal, this does not mean there is no rainy season. The rainy season generally comes in July and August, when in the heat of day massive thunderstorms can arise. 60% of the entire rainfall of the year descends in these 2 months. At this time, massive flight delays are known to occur at Taiyuan (and Beijing) airports. Flash floods may occur so beware, especially when traveling out and about on the country road. Although the average rainfall in July measures a meager 12 cm, locally this may be considerably more especially up on the mountain sides.
Also please note that Loess Hills have usually been stablized in and near urban area's so reducing the risk of massive mudslides from the loess hills. Roads are generally safe. However, keep the possibility in the back of your mind when hiking during rain in the countryside, such as along the popular Great Wall of China in Shanxi Province.
Most tourist return as soon as the rainy season has passed. In fall, the general weather and climate in Shanxi and North China is fair and sunny, with little chance of a storm or rainy days. Warm weather can last into the november month nowadays, although there ecertainly no guarantee.
Please note that the situation up on the mountains is different. Wutaishan - the scenic Buddhist Holy Mountain region, for example, is considered inaccessible between September and about April due to freezing temperatures. Few travelers go there after the September month.
Winter chills arrive either as traditionally in the beginning of November, or up to a month later.
More so than in the National Capital Beijing, the cold and sometimes snow arrive swiftly after the last warm and sunny days. On the highlands snow may. Fall mountains may be covered.
In general, the winter days can be frigid, but usually have fair weather good for traveling and hiking about for those who have the stamina for it. Average temperature in the coldest month, Januari, is around -12° Celsius. Due to the lack of cloud cover sightseeing in Shanxi is generally cold but fine during the winter.
However, although especially the Februari month is fair an dry with an average of zero rainfall, most travelers stay away in Januari and Februari because these are by far the coldest and most windy months. Jan. 20 is the first day of Major Cold, the 24th solar term in the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, which begins this year on Jan. 20 and ends on Feb. 4. (2015).
Shanxi Province is abundant in minreal resources. Verifed mineral quantities of coal in Shanxi amount to 261.2 billions tons, which accounts for a staggering 1/3 of the National Total resources. Other mineral resources in Shanxi Province include bauxite, pearlite, gallium and zeolite and their resources equally rank first with the Peoples Republic of China. In other words, Shanxi is the coal Province of China and it shows.
The main industrial centers of today are the northern city of Datong, long renowned as the "coal capital" of China and in
History of Shanxi Province
This page was last updated on: August 1, 2015
Shanxi Province is one of the oldest territories in the current country of China with a history leading back to the very first Dynasty - the Qin, who first united all. However, the current day Shanxi Territory was first established more than a 1000 years becoming a Province of China under the Ming Dynasty. At the time, Shanxi was classified as a dangerous and vital strategic territory, which therefor held a Special Function and status in the Defense of the Great Wall of China. Even today, Shanxi Province is rich in ruined parts and sections of the Great Wall of China as in history no less than three layers of this wall crossed the Province. In addition, fortresses and fire beacon towers remain strewn across the landscape making Shanxi one of the favorite destinations for exploring the wild Great Wall of China.
During the Manchu Qing Dynasty (1644 AD - 1911 AD), when China, Manchuria and Mongolia were united under the Manchu Crown Shanxi flowered and prospered as the Trading and later banking Center of China. As the rich collection of remaining land owners estates and the renowned world cultural heritage city (town) of Pingyao testify, at the time, citizens of Shanxi Province were among the richest in the Nation, their trading and financial Empire extending across China and into Mongolia and the far west as well.
For much of the history of the Peoples Republic
Introduction to Shanxi Province of China
Shanxi Province of China
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Highlights, Monuments and Scenic sites of Shanxi Province
From North to South, the Monuments and Scenic Sites of Shanxi Province start with the City of Datong and the World Cultural Heritage Site of Cloud Ridge 1000 Buddha Caves at nearby Yungang Village and ends in the South with the valley of the Yellow River. In between there are however plenty of sights to see.
For purpose of travel convenience, the Province of Shanxi may be divided into various sub-regions, these being the north, central Shanxi, the South, The West (and the Yellow River) and the WuTai Shan Region in the East and North East.
FOR ALL INFORMATION ON THE LANDMARKS, MONUMENTS AND HIGHLIGHTS OF SHANXI PROVINCE - CLICK THROUGH TO THE FULL PAGE:
Satellite Image Map of the Gobi Desert Region. Map overviews North-West Xinjiang Autonomous Region, Mongolia, Inner Mongolia and North and North-Eastern China giving a Full Overview of the Gobi Deserts and Yellow River Basin. Map includes country borders, name + location of Cities and Villages (clearly visible).
China Report - Map of the Great Wall during the Ming Dynasty
Satellite image of China and North-East Asia, with a super-imposed schematic Map of the location and Path of the Great Wall as constructed during the Reign of the Ming Dynasty. Included for reference are City names, geographical features of landscape, Names and locations of Passes on the Great Wall of China.
neighboring Provinces, even China as a whole. Known as the true cradle of Chinese Civilization, it is this river that spawned the earliest Chinese kingdoms and Dynasties with the fertile Loess soil carried in its waters. Its frequent floodings
during wet seasons, however, have caused major disasters throughout historyequalling its blessings. Notable features of the Yellow River Basin are the dry and arid conditions in the North, North-East and North- West mainly, owing to the encroaching of the Gobi Desert and the continuous loess-deposits of yellow dust blown in from the Gobi Desert and the Yellow River Basin (in Shanxi-, Shaanxi-, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia and Gansu Provinces).
In the South of Shanxi Province, around TaiYuan and beyond the situation is slightly different from the dry and yellow North, where the lands and hillsides slowly turn more green towards the south and leading into Shaanxi and Henan Provinces. In the South the fertile lands reminscent of central and coastal provinces return and farmlands grow more and more abundant and lush.
Taiyuan City is the seat of the Central Government of
Shanxi Province, which is a major heavy industrial center
with a booming growth, and significant responsibility for the
energy supply of China and thus the national economy. Also
traditionally functioning as a central railway transportation hub,
TaiYuan is an administrative center now easily accesible by air
through its National Airport (TaiYuan). Further TaiYuan is recently
home to a growing tourist industry, mainly focussed on PingYao
TaiYuan, The Capital lies strategically located in the center of the Province, reachable from the rough North from Datong and ShuoZhou West along Heng Shan and Yunzhong Shan, and from the East through
of China Shanxi reverted to being an arid and impoverished agricultural Province, with its natural resources of coal becoming the center of the new local economy. In the 1950's and 1960's the northern city of Datong became the largest coal producing region in the Nation, in turn spawning huge steel industries, train building and factories and a multutude of railroads intended mostly for industrial use.
In the new Era Shanxi is an increasingly prosperous Province which retains its crucial importance to the National Economy. Today, coal and chemical industries abound and the Provincial Capital of Taiyuan is a thriving commercial hub.
Most of Shanxi Province, up to 80% of its surface area is Mountainous or Hilly. Surprising as it may seem however, only 20 % of the Province is covered by Forests (3.44 million hectares).
The words Shan-xi translates from Chinese as West (Xi) of the Mountains (Shan) due to its rugged terrain of which a long Eastern Mountain Range is the main Topographical Feature. This range, the TaiHang Shan, runs neatly North-South bordering the North China Plain and seperating Shanxi from Hebei Province. The Area of North-Shanxi Province is especially rough and home to one of China's Five Holiest Mountains, the Five Terrace Mountain or Wu Tai Shan. Most of the Rest of Shanxi Province, up to 80% of its surface area is almost equally Mountainous or Hilly. As a result, the Province is rich in mineral resources, and since the 1930's has been developed as the Coal (and Iron) producing heart of China. The Main industrial Cities of today are Datong and TaiYuan, with a good deal of smaller mines distributed across the Province and at LinFen. Linfen has now officially been declared the most polluted city in the world, but the entire province can be shrouded in coal dust and emmissions, much to the detriment of tourist visitors to the area.
Last but not least should be mentioned the Yellow River overpass at Yixian. Nearby lie the famous waterfalls on the Yellow River, the spectacular Hukou (or Hugou) Falls. Especially when the water comes during the wet seasons,many flock to Hukou Falls to see the spectacular scene of the Yellow River plunging through narrows into the Yellow River Canyon below Yixian. It continous spectacularly down south past Lishi until joining the river Fen and flowing peacefully into Henan Province.
MAIN RIVERS AND WATERWAYS OF SHANXI PROVINCE:
The main river in Shanxi Province is the Yellow River. Although strictly speaking it forms the (natural) borders of the Province and does not flow through the Province, the magnificent Yellow River dominates the landscape and thus life within Shanxi Province.
The Province owes much of its loess soil and cliffs, and its dusty appearance to the Yelllow River. Find the Yellow River as it forms the western border of Shanxi Province with in the west on the opposite side the Province of Shaanxi.
In the south the Yellow River turn eastward, thereby also forming the natural borders with Henan Province.
Although little known by name outside the Peoples Republic of China, the second river by size and importance within Shanxi Province is the Sanggan River.
The Sanggan River runs in north central and north east of Shanxi Province.
It passes from the city of Shuozhou through its prefecture in a north eastern direction into the Datong Prefecture. The Sanggan River however does not reach Datong but instead flows eastward at considerable distance to the south of the city of Datong.
In these regions the Sanggan River receives both the Kuoquan River and the Yu river as tributaries.
Curving around the famous Holy Mountain of Hengshan which lies to the south-east of Datong, it flows eastward into Hebei Province eventually to empty into the Guanting Reservoir due north-west of the city of Beijing. Thus, the river forms one of the rivers that provide water to the ever thirsty and growing National Capital of Beijing.
As avid travelers will find, the main railway line from Beijing to Datong follows the Sanggan River upstream and traces its ravines through mountains considered practically unnavigable and impenetrable up to the advent of the railway and the tunnels carved though the main mountain obstacles, providing for spectacular sights.
The third river of importance for travelers purposes within Shanxi Province is the river Fen. The river Fen is a river in central and south-western Shanxi Province which flows roughly from north to south through the Capital city of Taiyuan. Furthermore downstream the Fen river also lends its name to the city of Linfen, as noted notorious among the most polluted destinations within the Province and even larger Nation.
Polluted by industries and cities as it is, the Fen River eventually ads its waters to the mighty Yellow River in the south west corner of the Province which caries them further waywards to the Bohai Bay of the Yellow Sea.
As with the river Fen, the Shizhi River lends its name to Changzhi, the city and prefecture which lie due south east of the Capital Taiyuan on the opposite side of the Province as Linfen.
Mind you, although generally arid and hilly or mountainous in nature, there are several more rivers of interest crossing the Province and its Prefectures. They are briefly listed below on an especially dedicated page as part of the Geography section on Shanxi Province.
FOR ALL INFORMATION REGARDING THE RIVERS, WATERWAYS, LAKES AND WATER RESERVOIRS OF SHANXI PROVINCE - CLICK THROUGH TO THE FULL PAGE:
Shanxi Province is one of the oldest territories in the current country of China with a history leading back to before the Spring & Autumn Period (722 - 403 BC) when it was the location of the military powerful state of Jin. The State of Jin dis-integrated into three states, starting off the Warring States Period (403 BC - 221 BC).The Warring States Period finally gave Rise to the very first Imperial Dynasty of China - the Qin (221 BC - 216 BC), who first united all under one Government. Under the Han and Tang Dynasties already, Shanxi was a territory or Province of China. At that Time however, Shanxi Territory included a larger Surface Area today. Todays Shanxi Province was established in Name and Practice by the Ming Dynasty, making it one of the 9 Districts in Defense of the Great Wall. During the Ming Dynasty Shanxi Families turned themselves into the backbone of the Chinese Empire's transportation system, leading to a growing wealth and increasing prosperity in the
Satellite Image Map Overview of Shanxi Province - Coming Soon !
area's beneath the Great Wall. From the Ming Dynasty and through the Qing Dynasty the Shanxi merchants became the most important economic powerbrokers of the Nation to which the City of PingYao and BiangLiang (ancient Kaifeng) among others are remaining testimony.
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the NiangZi Valley (NiangTseGuan) from ShiJiazhuang in Hebei Province and the Central Chinese Plain. To the South the Valley of the Fen River provides access to Shaanxi and Henan Provinces across the Yellow River. In the West another through Mountains, Valleys and Green lies the way to Eastern- and Central Shaanxi Province, an arid area at the heart of the Yellow River Basin.
Datong in turn, is the Coal Capital of China, a former industrial model city of the Cultural Revolution and near 1 million inhabitants in size. Quite different from the Capital, Datong lies exposed in the loesslands undernearth a mountain range and a Pass on the Great Wall of China named YanMenGuan.
Other cities of Shanxi Province are LinFen in the South-West along the banks of the Fen River, Lishi on the western border with Shaanxi Province, and Changzhi in the South-East of the Province far below TaiYuan and PingYao. Smaller but not lesser attractions such as the Wu Tai Shan Holy Mountain and its magnificent Monasteries lie in the high mountains in the North-West beyond Datong City on the border with Hebei Province. Take the train to YangMingBao and beyond to isolated and remote Shahe Village for best access to to this world cultural heritage area. Shahe, off-season is still a relatively small village-city with hotels, temples, a gate and traditional wall.
Shanxi Province includes the Capital at TaiYuan in Central Shanxi Province and the Northern City of Datong, both ancient Hsien Cities, or Capitals of centrally administered District of a Province. As such they had their own city walls constructed at the beginnings of the Ming Dynasty, as did PingYao.
These currently are both main industrial centers of Coal and Iron Production, as well as homes to significant Electricity Generation Plants supplying the North. Both cities are further famed for their significant cultural heritage, with the ancient Ming Walled City of Pingyao located near TaiYuan world famous for its historic architecture and scenery, and the Yungang Cloud Ridge Caves with their ancient Buddha's near Datong, the main attractions. Many more ancient relic sites are hidden around the
A Full and complete Map of China (PRC) identifying all Language Areas big and small in all Provinces and Autonomous Regions of China.
Map includes Turkic Languages (Uygur, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Salar & Uzbek), Mongolian Language and Sub-Divisions (Mongol, Tu, Daur and Dongxian), Tungusic Peoples (Oroqen, Evenki and Xibe) and Languages, Korean, Tajik (Tadzhik), Mon-Khmer (Kawa + Puman (or Pulang)), Hui, Uygur (Uighur), Tibeto-Bhurman Languages, Tai and Miao, Yao and She' Language Area's and Borders. Main Area's and sub-divisions of Han Languages (Northern Mandarin, Eastern Mandarin, South-Western Mandarin and Cantonese) further included. This color-coded ethno-linguistic Map (of 1967 AD) identifies at a glance most ethnic minority regions in China
Map China Ethno-Linguistic / Language Distribution China
Ethnic Minority Groups of Shanxi Province :
There is no information available on Transportation in Shanxi Province.
Transport in Shanxi Province :
According to the Chinese Government information website China.Org.Cn today the Province of Shanxi officially counts no less than 34 Ethnic Minority groups. Among them, the Nationally pre-dominant group of the Han are the largest in number among the population of the Province.
As one may make up from the various historic maps of China available as part of www.ChinaReport.com one can understand that Shanxi Province has since long been thorougly part of Chinese Civilization. In fact, the Province is counted as part of the earliest places of settlement of the mix of people that now make up the Han ethnic group and is famous for its archeological finds proving its place as the cradle of Chinese Civilization along with the great Yellow River that flows along its outer borders determining much of them.
As one will discover after arrival in the Province, the majority of people venturing about on streets, except for the clearly distinct Hui who identify themselves by wearing a particular style of Hat, seem to be average joe's belonging to Han group. The local dialects are versions of the northern mandarin branch of the Chinese language. Therefor, ethnic languages are rarely spoken, and the other ethnic groups one encounters are usually the Hui. The Hui, who make up only a pitiful 0.2% of the population are practically the only identifyable ethnic minority group in the Province entire. As most tourist will come to find, apart for being avid traders the Hui are also great chefs who prepare kebabs and other much loved Islamic type foods, and therefor may be more likely to come into contact with foreign travelers. As the Hui have their own Mosques in cities as well as the province, they may be found there as well.
At the time of the last population Cencus Shanxi Province numbered near 36 million (35,712,111) citizens, of which the Han, accounted for 99.75 percent of the total population. Therefor, although the National Government claims a rich diversity of minorities among the population, in reality they do not really exists. Of
The JueShan Temple, dating to the year 1090 AD in the Liao Dynasty .
the past also known as an important industrial railway center, the Provincial Capital of Taiyuan and also the city of Linfen, which found itself declared the world's most polluted city in 2006 and since has been struggling with rampant pollution of air, water and soil. In addition to the main state regulated industries there are an abundance of smaller privately owned and or run mines dotting the rural countryside.
Helpful Geographic Map of North Shanxi Province and Inner-Mongolia Autonomous Region showing the importance and pathway of the railroad Baotou Connection and the link to Hohhot and beyond into the Republic of Mongolia via the trans-Mongolian Railway.
In the recent decade large scale investments have been made into public infrastructure, among things in the National Railway system. Various new lines have been extended from the Capital of Taiyuan, connecting in virtually all directions. The already renowned high speed railway system presents another major change in comparison with the recent past. No longer do trans-provincial train rides take lenghty hours, by now those who can afford and claim a ticket can zip away on the high speed line to just about any major destination within the Peoples Republic. Among the newly available destinations are the city of Lhasa in the sadly afflicted Tibet Autonomous Region, the Silk Road city of Urumqi in far west Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong (S.A.R.) and many more exciting destinations. Today, especially the city of Taiyuan is well positioned as a stop over point as part of a railway tour of China.
As for railway lines that extend within the Province;
In the East through Nanchizi Pass runs the railway from Shijiazhuang. This is the oldest section of railway line in Shanxi Province, historically known as the ChengTai Railway. Beijing connects through Shijiazhuang with TaiYuan, from which trains can be taken in all four directions of the wind. Up North, West into Shaanxi's arid North, or south-west via PingYao on the Tung Pu Railway Railway through Linfen to Xi'An the old Silk Road Capital in Southern Shaanxi Province. This is the Beijing-YuanPing railway line.
Shanxi has many sections of spectacular railroads, but the most famous section is the one through PingXingGuan Pass on the railway between TaiYuan and Datong.
Here a 6 kilometer tunnel of the Railway cuts through rough Cliffs and Mountain-sides in one of the highest mountain-area's in the Province..
the total provincial citizenry, only some 67,000 people are registered as belonging to a minority group. The 34 groups that are officially listed under include the Hui, Manchu, Mongolian, and even Korean (Chaoxian) and Tibetan(s) however they are generally spread among the population. To find the minorities in Shanxi Province, one has to take to road thoroughly informed.
FOR FULL INFORMATION REGARDING THE ETHNIC GROUPS IN SHANXI PROVINCE - CLICK THROUGH TO THE FULL PAGE:
Above and Below: Satellite Images dated February 2010 during the so called Airpocalypse period. As can be seen Hebei Province, Beijing, Shandong Province, large parts of Shanxi Province (and territories far beyond) were enveloped in a giant cloud of gas clearly visible from outer space (Photos by AERONET).
(o/t Yellow Sea)
(covered in snow)
likewise neighboring Hebei Province and the Capital are Beijing for their serious air pollution problems.
Where in 2006 the city of Linfen and much of north and central Shanxi were frequently shrouded in coal dust and emmissions, much to the detriment of tourist visitors to the area not to mention the local populace although quite a few seem resigned to their fate, due to gigantic economic boom of the Chinese Coastal regions and the according build up of coal fired plants, metal smelteries and steel factories, all of northern China including also large swaths of Manchuria and Inner Mongolia are suffering from extremely foul air.
Thus, as air quality goes for travel destinations, today there is little difference wherever one goes. To be exact, Datong the northern coal capital, which lies more exposed to winds blowing off the Mongolian Plateaux can be equally problematic.
Especially in regions north of the Capital Taiyuan (and sometimes including it) yellow dust clouds from the Yellow River Basin meet air pollution from the massive local Coal Industry creating a phenomenon known as yellow or brown cloud.
Although the prosperous Capital city of Taiyuan has
expended much efforts and capital in order to improve the living environment and air quality for its citizens, their effort has been more than negated by the growth of industry, a building boom in all Provinces and decline of rainfall year after year. Although there is a long way to go, exhaust from local industry is indeed increasingly filtered and it should be noted that the National Government has also planned to invest more than 100 billion US dollars in clean energy and industrial technology. Nevertheless, the Government has predicted that it will take at least 20 years for the air to clean. By Januari 2015 Extremely Hazardous air once more made the International Headlines as Beijing and other cities were once again in extremely gray and polluted air. It seems like the Januari and Febryari month airpocalypse is becoming a yearly phenomenon. Other months can be nearly equally bad though.
Recently, the city of TaiYuan has become somewhat of a model city, an example for other industrial centers in china to copy from.
Linfen is the most notoriously air polluted city in the world since the year 2006. However by 2015 it would be fair to say that not only the entire Shanxi Province can suffer from hazardous air pollution,