Provinces of China: Gansu - Silk Road post house


China Territory  Updated: Sat, Jul 21, 2012 07:31 AM   By HugChina


Chinese provinces,Gansu


Gansu province 甘肃 is located in the northwest China. Places of Interests include Silk Road, Dunhuang City, Lanzhou, Jiayuguan Pass, Mogao Grottoes, Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, etc. Gansu is the important post house of the historic Silk Road.

General information

Area: 450,000 square km

Population: 25.62 million (2006)

Capital City: Lanzhou

Population: At the end of the year 2005, the total population with permanent residence stood at 25.944 million.

Gansu (simplified Chinese: 甘肃; pinyin: Gānsù) province is located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China. It lies between the Tibetan and Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east. The Yellow River passes the southern part of the province.

Gansu has has a large concentration of Hui Chinese, and the historical home, along with Shaanxi of the dialect of the Dungans, who are Hui who migrated to Central Asia. The southwestern corner of Gansu is home to a large Tibetan population. The capital is Lanzhou, located in the southeast part of the province. Gansu is abbreviated Gan (甘) or Long (陇), and is also known as Long West or Long Right, in reference to the Long Mountain east of Gansu.

Geography of Gansu

Situated in China’s northwest on the upper reaches of the Huanghe River (Yellow River) and striding the Qingzang, Neimenggu and Huangtu plateaus, Gansu borders on Shaanxi in the east, Sichuan, Qinghai in south, Xinjiang in the west, Inner Mongolia and the People’s Republic of Mongolia in the north and Ningxia in the northeast. The province covers an area of over 450,000 square kilometres with a population of 25.62 million (2006) belong to the Han, Hui, Tibetan, Dongxiang, Yugur, Bonan, Mongolia, Kazak, Tu, Salar and Manchu nationalities. The capital city of Gansu is Lanzhou.

Climate of Gansu

Gansu enjoys a temperate monsoon climate featured by an apparent transition towards continental climate. It is dry and short of rainfall with considerable temperature difference. Winter is long and cold and summer short and warm, while spring and autumn come and go instantly even without one’s knowledge. The coldest month is January with the temperature ranging from -14°C to 4°C(6.8°F to 39.2°F ) from northwest to southeast; and hottest month is July, ranging from 16°C to 26°C(60.8°F to 78.8°F ) f16C to 26C from Qilian Mountains northward and to Bailong River basin. The average annual rainfall is between 30 and 600 mm with gradually reduces from southeast to northwest. In the north-western part of the province, sunshine is adequate but it is quite windy and dusty in spring. In the southeast, there is much rainstorm in summer coupled with hailstones.

Economy of Gansu

Agricultural production includes cotton, linseed oil, maize, melons (such as the honeydew melon, known locally as the Bailan melon or "Wallace" due to its introduction by US vice president Henry A. Wallace), millet, and wheat. Gansu is known as a source for wild medicinal herbs which are used in Chinese medicine.

However, most of Gansu's economy is based on mining and the extraction of minerals, especially rare earth elements. The province has significant deposits of antimony, chromium, coal, cobalt, copper, fluorite, gypsum, iridium, iron, lead, limestone, mercury, mirabilite, nickel, crude oil, platinum, troilite, tungsten, and zinc among others. The oil fields at Yumen and Changqing are considered significant.

Industries other than mining include electricity generation, petrochemicals, oil exploration machinery, and building materials.

According to some sources, the province is also a center of China's nuclear industry.

Despite recent growth in Gansu and the booming economy in the rest of China, Gansu is still considered to be one of the poorest provinces in China. Its nominal GDP for 2009 was about 338.2 billion yuan (49.5 billion USD) and per capita of 12,836 RMB (1,879 USD). Tourism has been a bright spot in contributing to Gansu's overall economy. As mentioned below, Gansu offers a wide variety of choices for national and international tourists.

History of Gansu

Gansu has a long history. According to archaeological finds, our ancestors began to work and live in that area as early as 200,000 years ago in the Paleolithic Period. About 3,000 years ago, our forefathers in the Zhou Dynasty started to develop agriculture in the Jin and Wei rivers basins in the eastern part of Gansu, marking the beginning of the brilliant cultural history in the Huanghe River (Yellow River) basin. After the Han and Tang dynasties, Gangsu was served as a channel for cultural exchanges and trade between the East and West. When Zhang Qian of the Han Dynasty went on missions to the Western Regions and Monk Xuan Zang of the Tang Dynasty went to India to learn Buddhism, both took way of Gansu. The administrative division of Gansu underwent several changes in the Yuan and Ming dynasties until the Qing when it was finally defined. Since then it has remained unchanged.

Administrative divisions

There are fourteen administrative areas in Gansu immediately below the province level:

Name Chinese Hanyu Pinyin Administrative Seat

— Prefecture-level city —

1 Jiuquan 酒泉市 Jiǔquán Shì Suzhou District

2 Jiayuguan 嘉峪关市 Jiāyùguān Shì Jiayuguan

3 Zhangye 张掖市 Zhāngyè Shì Ganzhou District

4 Jinchang 金昌市 Jiǔquán Shì Jinchuan District

5 Wuwei 武威市 Wǔwēi Shì Liangzhou District

6 Baiyin 白银市 Báiyín Shì Baiyin District

7 Lanzhou 兰州市 Lánzhōu Shì Chengguan District

10 Dingxi 定西市 Dìngxī Shì Anding District

11 Longnan 陇南市 Lǒngnán Shì Wudu District

12 Tianshui 天水市 Tiānshuǐ Shì Qinzhou District

13 Pingliang 平凉市 Píngliàng Shì Kongtong District

14 Qingyang 庆阳市 Qìngyáng Shì Xifeng District

— Autonomous prefecture —

8 Linxia (Hui) 临夏回族自治州 Línxià Huízú Zìzhìzhōu Linxia

9 Gannan (Tibetan) 甘南藏族自治州 Gānnán Zāngzú Zìzhìzhōu Hezuo

Places of Interests and Tourist Attractions of Gansu

Silk Route Museum

The Silk Route Museum is located in Gansu Province, and has over 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) of exhibition space.

The Jiayuguan Pass of the Great Wall

Jiayuguan Pass, in Jiayuguan city, is the largest and most intact pass, or entrance, of the Great Wall. Jiayuguan Pass was built in the early Ming dynasty, somewhere around the year 1372. It was built near an oasis that was then on the extreme western edge of China. Jiayuguan Pass was the first pass on the west end of the great wall so it earned the name “The First And Greatest Pass Under Heaven.”

An extra brick is said to rest on a ledge over one of the gates. One legend holds that the official in charge asked the designer to calculate how many bricks would be used. The designer gave him the number and when the project was finished, only one brick was left. It was put on the top of the pass as a symbol of commemoration. Another account holds that the building project was assigned to a military manager and an architect. The architect presented the manager with a requisition for the total number of bricks that he would need. When the manager found out that the architect had not asked for any extra bricks, he demanded that the architect make some provision for unforeseen circumstances. The architect, taking this as an insult to his planning ability, added a single extra brick to the request. When the gate was finished, the single extra brick was, in fact, extra and was left on the ledge over the gate.

Mogao Grottoes

The Mogao Grottoes near Dunhuang have a collection of Buddhist art. Originally there were a thousand grottoes, but now only 492 cave temples remain. Each temple has a large statue of a buddha or bodhisattva and paintings of religious scenes. In 336 AD, a monk named Le Zun (Lo-tsun) came near Echoing Sand Mountain, when he had a vision. He started to carve the first grotto. During the Five Dynasties period they ran out of room on the cliff and could not build any more grottoes.

Silk Road and Dunhuang City

The historic Silk Road starts in Chang'an and goes to Constantinople. On the way merchants would go to Dunhuang in Gansu. In Dunhuang they would get fresh camels, food and guards for the journey around the dangerous Taklamakan Desert. Before departing Dunhuang they would pray to the Mogao Grottoes for a safe journey, if they came back alive they would thank the gods at the grottoes. Across the desert they would form a train of camels to protect themselves from thieving bandits. The next stop, Kashi (Kashgar), was a welcome sight to the merchants. At Kashi most would trade and go back and the ones who stayed would eat fruit and trade their Bactrian camels for single humped ones. After Kashi they would keep going until they reached their next destination.

Located about 5 km southwest of the city, the Crescent Lake or Yueyaquan is a oasis and popular spot for tourists seeking respite from the heat of the desert. Activities includes camel and 4x4 rides.

Bingling Temple

Bingling Temple, or Bingling Grottoes, is a Buddhist cave complex in a canyon along the Yellow River. Begun in 420 AD during the Western Jin Dynasty, the site contains dozens of caves and caverns filled with outstanding examples of carvings, sculpture, and frescoes. The great Maitreya Buddha is more than 27 meters tall and is similar in style to the great Buddhas that once lined the cliffs of Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Access to the site is by boat from Yongjing in the summer or fall. There is no other access point.

Labrang Monastery

Labrang Tashikyil Monastery is located in Xiahe County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, located in the southern part of Gansu, and part of the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo. It is one of the six major monasteries of the Gelukpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet, and the most important one in Amdo. Built in 1710, it is headed by the Jamyang-zhaypa. It has 6 dratsang (colleges), and houses over sixty thousand religious texts and other works of literature as well as other cultural artifacts.

Space launch center

The Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center is located in the Gobi desert in Gansu Province.

Transportation in Gansu

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


Zhongchuan Airport in Lanzhou, and now there are about 30 lines from Lanzhou to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Xi’an, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Dunhuang, Jiayuguan, etc., besides, there is a regular tourist charter flight to Hongkong every Tuesday. It is about 70 kilometers from Lanzhou downtown to Zhongchuan Airport, about one hour’s driving, and there are regular buses and taxis to pick you up to the airport.


Lanzhou is the largest railway hub of communications in the northwest part of the country. Four of the country’s most important railroads---Longhai, Lanxin, Lanqing and Baolan meet in Lanzhou. Lanzhou is also one of the important stations on the second Eurasia Bridge beginning from Lianyungang city in the east and ending at the Lutedan port of Holland. Lanzhou railway station lies at the foot of Gaolan mountain south of the city downtown, and there are 54 passenger trains pass by this station towards many other cities of the country.


There are four national highway lines passing through Lanzhou city, and 7 coach stations. Besides, there are 5 provincial highways, 50 other roads linking all the counties and villages. You can see that the roads from Lanzhou to other provinces and cities and to other scenic spots extend in all directions, so it is quite convenient to travel by bus.
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