Chinese Provinces: Hunan - the birth place of Mao Zedong

Updated:Sat, Jul 21, 2012 01:42 AM    Related:Chinese provinces

Chinese provinces

Hunan province 湖南 is located in Central China and to the south Dongting Lake. Abbreviation of Hunan is Xiang after the Xiang River which runs through the province. Hunan prides itself on rich tourist resources including Wulinyuan, Zhangjiajie. Hunan is the birth place of Mao Zedong born.


General information

Area: 211,800 square km

Population: 65 million (2006)

Capital City: Changsha

Nationalities: Han, Tujia, Miao, Dong, Yao, Hui, Uygur and Zhuang

GDP (2007): CNY914.5 billion.

Average temperature: 4oC to 8oC in January, 26oC to 30oC in July.

Mountains:Wuling Mountains in the northwest; Xuefeng Mountains in the central west; Luoxiao Mountains in the east; Nanting Mountains in the south.

Rivers:Xiangjiang, Yuanjiang, Zishui, and Lishui Rivers; the Yangtze River touches the border near Dongting Lake.

Lakes: Dongting and Datong Lakes.

Administrative divisions: 1 autonomous prefecture, 24 cities, 74 counties, and 6 autonomous counties.

Neighboring areas:Jiangxi, Guangdong, Guizhou, Sichuan, and Hunan Provinces; Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Major cities: Changsha, Zhuzhou, Hengyang, Xiangtan, Shaoyang, Lengshuijiang.

Tourist attractions:Mount Hengshan, 1,290 meters high, is one of the Five Mountains in eastern China; Dongting Lake, once the biggest fresh water lake in China, has an area of 2,820 square kilometers.

Hunan (Chinese: 湖南; pinyin: Húnán) province is located in Central China and located to the south of the middle reaches of theYangtze River and south of Lake Dongting (hence the name Hunan, meaning “south of the lake”). Hunan is sometimes called 湘 (pinyin: Xiāng) for short, after the Xiang River which runs through the province.

Hunan borders Hubei in the north, Jiangxi to the east, Guangdong to the south, Guangxi to the southwest, Guizhou to the west, and Chongqing to the northwest. The capital is Changsha.

Geography of Hunan

Hunan Province is located in the southern part of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River. Since it lies to the south of Dongting Lake, the second largest fresh water lake in China, it was given the name Hu-nan (literally meaning south of the lake). As the Xiangjiang River runs through the province from north to south, it has been shortened to Xiang. Hunan has a total area of 211,800 square km. a population of 65 million (2006), and is home to the Tujia, Miao, Yao, Dong, Bai, Hui and Zhuang ethnic groups. The province governs 12 cities at the prefectural level, 11 administrative offices and one autonomous prefecture. The provincial capital is Changsha.

Climate of Hunan

Hunan is in the continental sub-tropical monsoon humid climate zone. It has a short winter and a long frost-free-period. The sunshine lasts for a long period during the day and the four seasons are clearly distinguished. The annual average temperature is 16-18 °C (60.8°F - 64.4°F), and the annual average rainfall is between 1,200 and 1,700 mm. The best tourism season is in fall, but traveling is pleasant from April to November.

Economy of Hunan

Hunan's traditional crop is rice. The Lake Dongting area is an important center of ramie production, and Hunan is also an important center of tea cultivation.

The Lengshuijiang area is noted for its stibnite mines, and is one of the major centers of antimony extraction in China.

Its nominal GDP for 2009 was 1.29 trillion yuan (US$190 billion). Its per capita GDP was 20,226 yuan (US$2,961)

History of Hunan

Hunan's primeval forests were first occupied by the ancestors of the modern Miao, Tujia, Dong and Yao peoples. It entered the written history of China around 350 BC, when under the kings of the Zhou dynasty, it became part of the State of Chu. At this time, and for hundreds of years thereafter, it was a magnet for migration of Han Chinese from the north, who cleared most of the forests and began farming rice in the valleys and plains. To this day many of the small villages in Hunan are named after the Han families who settled there. Migration from the north was especially prevalent during the Eastern Jin Dynasty and the Southern and Northern Dynasties Periods, when nomadic invaders pushed these peoples south.

Hunan and Hubei became a part of the province of Huguang (湖廣) until the Qing dynasty. The Hunan province was created in 1664 from Huguang, renamed to its current name in 1723.

Hunan was relatively quiet until 1910 when there were uprisings against the crumbling Qing dynasty, which were followed by the Communist's Autumn Harvest Uprising of 1927. It was led by Hunanese native Mao Zedong, and established a short-lived Hunan soviet in 1927. The Communists maintained a guerrilla army in the mountains along the Hunan-Jiangxi border until 1934. Under pressure from the Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) forces, they began the famous Long March to bases in Shaanxi Province. After the departure of the Communists, the KMT army fought against the Japanese in the second Sino-Japanese war. They defended the capital Changsha until it fell in 1944. Japan launched Operation Ichigo, a plan to control the railroad from Wuchang to Guangzhou (Yuehan Railway). Hunan was relatively unscathed by the civil war that followed the defeat of the Japanese in 1945. In 1949, the Communists returned once more as the Nationalists retreated southward.

Administrative divisions

Hunan is divided into fourteen prefecture-level divisions, of which thirteen are prefecture-level cities and the remaining division an autonomous prefecture. The prefecture-level cities are:

# Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Administrative Seat

— Prefecture-level city —

1 Changsha 长沙市 Chángshā Shì Yuelu District

2 Changde 常德市 Chángdé Shì Wuling District

3 Chenzhou 郴州市 Chénzhōu Shì Beihu District

4 Hengyang 衡阳市 Héngyáng Shì Yanfeng District

5 Huaihua 怀化市 Huáihuà Shì Hecheng District

6 Loudi 娄底市 Lóudǐ Shì Louxing District

7 Shaoyang 邵阳市 Shàoyáng Shì Shuangqing District

8 Xiangtan 湘潭市 Xiāngtán Shì Yuetang District

9 Yiyang 益阳市 Yìyáng Shì Heshan District

10 Yongzhou 永州市 Yǒngzhōu Shì Lengshuitan District

11 Yueyang 岳阳市 Yuèyáng Shì Yueyanglou District

12 Zhangjiajie 张家界市 Zhāngjiājiè Shì Yongding District

13 Zhuzhou 株洲市 Zhūzhōu Shì Tianyuan District

— Autonomous Prefecture —

14 Xiangxi (Tujia & Miao) 湘西土家族苗族自治州 Xiāngxī Tǔjiāzú Miáozú Zìzhìzhōu Jishou

Places of Interests and Tourist Attractions of Hunan

Hunan is a main rice-growing areas in China and is south of the Yangtze River. Its name, meaning "South of the Lake", comes from the Dongting Lake in its northern part. Visitors to Hunan will see countless tea plantations, bamboo groves, and rice fields along the roads.

Hunan prides itself on its rich tourist resources, both natural and historical. These include 15 tourist areas, more than 100 tourist sites, and more than 180 historical sites under governmental protection. Among well-known Hunan attractions are Changsha as a historical and cultural city; relics unearthed at Mawangdui Tomb; Dongting Lake and Yueyang Tower in Yueyang; Mt. Hengshan; Taohua-yuan Nature Reserve in Changde; the Mausoleum of Emperor Yan in Zhuzhou; Mt. Jiuyi and the Mausoleum of Emperor Shun in Ningyuan; Jiashan Temple and the Tomb of Li Zicheng in Shimen; Suxian Ridge in Chenzhou; Meijiang River in Loudi; and the former residence of Mao Zedong in Shaoshan. The Wulinyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area comprises the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, the Tianzishan (天子山) mountain ranges, BaoFengHu (宝峰湖) and the Suoxi Valley (索溪峪), and is a very popular filming and tourist destination.

The Tujia, Miao, Dong, Yao, and Bai ethnic groups living in western Hunan are gifted dancers and singers, preserving many of their traditional customs. There is great potential for the development of tourist resources in the minority-inhabited areas of Western Hunan.


Capital city, Changsha, is famous for its Han tomb excavation, and the Hunan Provincial Museum displays relics excavated from the three 2100-year-old tombs. The 5000 relics are well preserved, among which are 1800 pieces of lacquerware which are well-preserved. The body of a woman, the wife of a marquis, is also incredibly well preserved. The Han Tomb Site is now a pyramid-shaped hill. Also in Changsha is the Hunan Provincial Embroidery Factory, a must-visit. Hunan's embroidery is one of the most famous in China. It is so fine that it can be displayed from either side.

Orange Isle

The Orange Isle, in the middle of the Xiang River, is covered with orange groves and is a good place for relaxing walks.

Orange Isle, one of the eight scenic wonders of the Xiangjiang River, is west of Changsha City. The Xiangjiang Bridge spans over the isle which is famous for its production of oranges and its beautiful scenery. The isle is six kilometers long and 0.5 kilometers wide from east to west. In 1925, Mao Zedong wrote his famous poem "Shangsha", in which he described the scenery of the isle and the Xingjiang River. Presently, the isle is a place for tourists. At the northwestern end of the isle is a natural swimming pool.

Dongting Lake

Situated in the north of Hunan Province, Dongting Lake is the second largest body of fresh water in China. Now the lake is divided into three sections: East Dongting Lake, South Dongting Lake, and West Dongting Lake. The area around Dongting Lake is well-known as the "Land of Fish and Rice". There are several islands in the lake; the most famous is Junshan Island, where silver needle tea is grown. Around the lake there is the Yueyang Tower, Mount Jun, Lu Sus Tomb, and a number of sites of historical interest.

Jushan Island

Jushan is a small island in the Dongting Lake and consists of 72 hilltops. There are many scenic spots and places of historic interest, and many touching fairy tales are told about the island. As the old saying goes, "the water in the Dongting Lake and Junshan in it are viewed as green from the distance. The island resembles a green snail in a silvery plate." This line was used by ancient people to describe the beautiful scenery of Junshan.

Yueyang Tower

Located on the west city wall, the Yueyang Tower is one of three famous towers in South China, the other two being the Yellow Crane Tower in Wuchang and the Prince Teng Pavillion in Nanching. The predecessor of Yueyang Tower was a structure built during the Three Kingdoms period (220 -280 AD) for reviewing military parades. In the fifth year of Emperor Qingli's reign of the Song Dynasty (716), it was rebuilt, and famous Song Dynasty essay writer Fan Zhongyan wrote his famous essay "Notes on Yueyang Tower", which was considered matchless in literary beauty and profound thought.


Wulingyuan, located in northwestern Hunan in Dayong City, consists of Zhangjiajie, Suoxiyu, Tianzishan, and Yangjiajie and has an area of 396 square kilometers. Here, thousands of strange-looking peaks and wounding creeks form spectacular scenery rarely seen in other parts of the world. The newly developed Wulingyuan Scenic Spot is a natural wonder with its spectacular natural beauty.

Because of its grotesque, perilous, mysterious, pretty, and wild scenery, Wulingyuan is listed in the United Nations World list.

The greatest attractions the Wuling mountains offer to sightseers are primitive natural scenery, particularly in the Wulingyuan Scenic district, which is made up of Zhangjiajie, Tianzishan, and Suxiyu, surprises tourists greatly with its strange-looking rocks and peaks, limpid streams, shady woods, and magical mists. The peaks are usually above 200 meters in height. There are 560 scenic spots in the area which contains 538 kinds of woody plants, 27 kinds of trees, 962 different types of animals and birds, of which 20 are rare and are under state protection.


Zhangjiajie is the pearl of Wulingyuan. Thousands of stone peaks stand out with snaking creeks flowing through then and wild flowers and plants all over. Countless fantastically-shaped peaks and rocks dot the area, just like a natural museum of sculpture. The scenery in Zhangjiajie can be characteristically described as beautiful, wild, grotesque, and refreshing. Major sights include the Yaozizhai Scenic Area, the Huangshizhai Scenic Area, Jinbian Creek, and Jinbian Cliff, where precipitous cliffs and steep slopes are the main attraction; and Shandaogou, a mysterious and wild valley. In 1982, Zhangjiajie Area was classified as a National Park.


Suoxiyu Scenic Area is famous for its landscape of craggy peaks and huge rock columns rising out of the luxuriant subtropical forests. Suoxiyu is a natural botanical garden and zoo. Here tourists can have a view of naturally shaped grotesque rocks, unpredictable clouds and fog, grand waterfalls, cold springs, mirroring lakes, the mystic Underground House and Dragon Palace, and elegant relics. Major sights include the 10 - 11 Gallery, known as a natural sculpture museum; the Yellow Dragon Cave, known as the underground pearl; Xihai, renown for its forest of peaks; Baofeng Lake; and Baizhang Valley.

Tianzi Shan

The king of all the peaks in Wulingyuan is the Tianzi Mountain. Local legends say that an ancient Tujia chieftain who aspired to become the Tianzi (Son of Heaven) gathered his people and launched an uprising on this peak. This is a land teeming with mystery. There is a flyover, two pools, three ancient temples, four gates, five waterfalls, six caves, seven scenic spots, 84 natural view platforms, and 9,990 peaks. Major sights include the forest of peaks and rocks, the Heavenly Pool, the Temple of the Son of Heaven, and the Waterfall of Lovebirds.

Heng Shan

Heng Shan, also known as South Mountain, ranks the first among the five sacred mountains in China. It is also a famous mountain worshipped by Buddhists in China. Mount Heng, situated in central Hunan, extends 150 kilometers. The highest peak on the mountain is Zhurong peak, which is 1,290 meters above sea level. It is the best place to view a morning sunrise. On top of the peak is the Zhurong Hall, a Taoist temple. In the summer Mount Heng is an ideal resort place, and in winter it is an ideal place on which to view snow scenery.

At the foot of the highest peak in Mount Hengshan lies an ancient town with a history of over 1000 years. In the center of the town stands the Nanyue Grand Temple with double eaves and upturned corners. It is a group of magnificent palatial structures of the Tang Dynasty style is the largest temple in South China. In the summer and autumn, there is a continuous flow of people who come to see sights or make pilgrimages.


Taohuayuan, situated 43 kilometers from Changde City, faces the surging Yuan River and backs on to high mountains. In the spring, petals of red peach flowers fall in riotous profusion as streams filled with clear water and the paths wind along, presenting a beautiful piece of scenery. The place is well-known in the world for the masterpiece "Notes on Taohuayuan" written by Tao Yuanming, a great poet of the Jin Dynasty.

Green Yuelu Mountain

The Green Yuelu Mountain, with many running streams and scenic spots and a quiet environment, is also studded with many historical sites. The peak of the mountain is 200 meters above sea level. Scenic spots on the mountain include the Yuelu Academy at the foot of the mountain, Lushan Temple in the middle, and the Yuelu Palace at the top. These three spots show visitors three aspects of Chinese traditional culture - Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Yuelu Mountain changes with the seasons: in spring the mountain is covered with green trees and bamboo, and running streams create the music of the mountain; in summer it is a pleasant place for tourists to sit on stone benches under trees as they enjoy the breeze; in late autumn it is beautiful as maple leaves turn red; and in winter the snow-covered mountain presents a very appealing scene.

Hunan Culture

Xiang is a subdivision of spoken Chinese that originates from Hunan.

Hunan cuisine is noted for its use of chili peppers.

Nü shu is a writing system that was used exclusively among women in Jiangyong County.

Transportation in Hunan

Transportation in Hunan develops rapidly and has established comparatively complete transportation network consisting of flights, railway, highway and water carriage.


Changsha is the center of the Hunan airlines .Changsha Huanghua International Airports have numerous airliners destined for big and medium cities both at home and abroad. Besides, Zhangjjiajie airport and Changde airport are two civil airports.


Hunan province has a well-developed railway lines. Five railways, Beijing-Guangzhou, Zhejiang-Jiangxi, Hunan-Guilin, Hunan-Guizhou, Zhizhou-Liuzhou, run through the whole province. Almost all tourist cities and districts have railways passing through.

The high-speed rail line Guangzhou - Wuhan run accross Hunan. It takes only 2 hours to travel from north Hunan to South Hunan with this train which runs as quick as 350km per hour.


National roads such as 106, 107, 207,209,319,320,322 etc all go through Hunan province. There are shuttle services from the tourist cities to the scenic areas.


Xiang, Zi, Ruan, and Li four waters of Hunan province are all suitable for shipping. Changsha, Hengyang, Zhuzhou, Xiangtan, Shaoyang, Huaihua, Changde, Yueyang cities are not only the main arterial railways and roads of Hunan province but also the prominent waterways to transfer.




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