The Shanxi reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Not to be confused with the unrelated province of Shaanxi

Shanxi (山西 Hanyu Pinyin: Shānxī, Wade-Giles: Shan-hsi, Postal system pinyin: Shansi) is a northern province of the People's Republic of China. It's one-character abbreviation is Jin (晋 pinyin jìn), after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn Period. Shanxi has an area of 150,000 km² and a population of 32.97 million.

Shanxi's name literally means "mountains' west", which refers to the province's location west of the Taihang Mountains. Shanxi borders Hebei to the east, Henan to the south, Shaanxi to the west, and Inner Mongolia to the north. The capital of Shanxi is Taiyuan.

Shānxī Shěng
Abbreviation: 晋 (pinyin: Jìn)
Shanxi is highlighted and pointed to on this map
Origin of Name山 shān - mountain
西 xī - west
"Taihang's west"
Capital and Largest City Taiyuan
 - Total
 - % of national
 - % water
Ranked 19th
156,000 km²
 - Total (2001)
 - % of national
 - Density
Ranked 19th
 - Total (2002)
 - % of national
 - per capita
Ranked 22nd
201.18 billion å
6120 å
Administration Type Province
GovernorZhang Baoshun
CPC Shanxi Committee SecretaryTian Chengping
Prefecture-level subdivisions11
County-level subdivisions119
Township-level subdivisions1386
ISO 3166-2CN-14

Table of contents
1 History
2 Subdivisions
3 Geography
4 Economy
5 Demographics
6 Culture
7 Tourism
8 Miscellaneous topics
9 External links


Shanxi was the location of the powerful Jin state during the Spring and Autumn Period. The Han Dynasty ruled Shanxi as the prefecture of Bingzhou (并州 Bìng Zhōu). During the barbarian invasions of the Sixteen Kingdoms period, Shanxi was hotly disputed along with the rest of North China, and present-day Datong served for a time as the capital of the Northern Wei, a Xianbei kingdom that went on to rule all of north China. During the Tang and Tang the area was known as He-dong, or "east of the (Yellow) river". It was the Ming Dynasty that formally established the area as Shanxi province.


Shanxi contains eleven prefecture-level cities:

(Note: "Prefecture-level cities" are large administrative divisions that cover both urban and rural areas, and do not actually refer to "cities" in the strictest sense of the word. See Political divisions of China)

These prefectures, in turn, oversee 11 county-level cities, 85 counties, and 23 districts.


Shanxi is located on a plateau, which is in turn made up of higher ground to the east (Taihang mountains) and the west (Luliang mountains), and a series of valleys in the center through which the Fen River flows. The highest peak is Mount Wutai (Wutai Shan) at an altitude of 3058 m. The Fen and Qin rivers, tributaries of Huang He (or Yellow River), drain much of the province; the north is drained by tributaries of the Hai River, such as Sanggan and Hutuo rivers.

Shanxi has a continental monsoon climate, and is rather arid. Annual precipitation averages around 350-700 mm. There is very little precipitation in winter and spring.

Major cities:


Shanxi depends mostly on agriculture, mainly the cultivation of wheat, but also corn and sorghum.

Shanxi is very rich in natural resources, including coal and bauxite. Shanxi has, in fact, one third of China's coal, and this has made Shanxi a leading producer of coal within China.

Industry in Shanxi is mostly centered around coal, power generation, metal refining, and other heavy industries.

In 2001, Shanxi had a gross domestic product of 178 billion RMB, and a per capita income of 5460 RMB. By market exchange rates, these convert to US$21.5 billion and US$660 respectively.


The population is mostly Han Chinese with minorities of Hui Chinese, Mongols, and Manchus.


People in most regions of Shanxi speak dialects of Jin-yu, a subdivision of Chinese. People in the southwest speak dialects of Mandarin. (Jin-yu is sometimes classified as a subdivision of Mandarin. For more information, see Chinese spoken language.)

Vinegar is a very important part of Shanxi cuisine.

Popular forms of traditional entertainment include Shanxi Opera (Jinju), Puju, Beilu Bangzi, Shangdang Bangzi and Shanxi Yangge.


In addition to the major cities there are also the following sights:

Ancient City of Pingyao is a town and a World Heritage Site near Taiyuan noted for its preservation of many features of northern Han Chinese culture, architecture, and way of life during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Yungang Grottoes, a World Heritage Site in Datong consist of 252 caves noted for their collection of 5th and 6th century Buddhist cave art.

Mount Wutai (Wutai Shan) is the highest point in the province. It is known as the residence of the bodhisattva Manjusri, and as a result is also a major Buddhist pilgrimage destination, with many temples and natural sights.

Mount Hengshan (Heng Shan), in Hunyuan County, is one of the Wu Yue (Five Great Peaks) of China, and is also a major Taoist site.

Dazhai is a village in Xiyang County. Situated in hilly, difficult terrain, it was a holy site during the Cultural Revolution, when it was set out to the entire nation as exemplary of the hardiness of the proletariat, especially peasants.

Miscellaneous topics

Major colleges and universities in Shanxi include:

All of the above universities are under the authority of the provincial government. Institutions not offering full-time bachelor programs are not listed.

External links

Province-level divisions of the People's Republic of China
Flag of the People's Republic of China
Provinces¹: Anhui | Fujian | Gansu | Guangdong | Guizhou | Hainan | Hebei | Heilongjiang | Henan | Hubei | Hunan | Jiangsu | Jiangxi | Jilin | Liaoning | Qinghai | Shaanxi | Shandong | Shanxi | Sichuan | Yunnan | Zhejiang
Autonomous Regions: Guangxi | Inner Mongolia | Ningxia | Tibet | Xinjiang
Municipalities: Beijing | Chongqing | Shanghai | Tianjin
Special Administrative Regions: Hong Kong | Macau
¹ See also: Political status of Taiwan