The land in Hunan generally slopes from the east, south and west towards the north like the shape of a horse¡¯s hoof. Hunan is surrounded with mountains on three sides: Mufu and Luoxiao mountains in the east, Nanling Mountain in the south, and Wuling and Xuefeng mountain in the west. The northern part of the province is the Dongting Lake Plain, and central Hunan has wide areas of low hills, basins and valleys.
Among the total area of Hunan, mountainous regions account for 51.2 percent, while basins, plains and hilly areas account for 13.9 percent, 13.1 percent and 15.4 percent respectively. Areas below 50 meters altitude form 9.9 percent of the total, while areas above 1000 meters account for 4.3 percent. The majority of Hunan Province lies at altitudes between 100 meters and 800 meters.
Hunan has a humid continental and subtropical monsoon climate. It has average annual sunshine of 1,300-1,800 hours, annual average temperature is 16¡ãC-18¡ãC, a frost-free period of 260-310 days, and a mean annual precipitation of 1,200-1,700 mm.
Its climate has three characteristics: first, it has abundant sunshine, heat and water resources, and they reach their peak synchronously. During the period from April to October, the total radiation amount is 70-76 percent of the whole year, and rainfall accounts for 68-84 percent of the total. Second, there are distinct seasonal climate changes, with a cold winter and hot summer. The temperature always changes in spring, but always declines abruptly in the autumn. There is much rainfall in spring and summer, while drought always appears in autumn and winter. Third, areas with an abruptly changeable climate are surrounded by mountains in three directions, especially in the mountainous regions in west and south Hunan.
Hunan has a total cultivated area of 3.92 million hectares, 18.5 percent of the province¡¯s total area. Forest areas, 9.47 million hectares, account for 44.7 percent; deserted hilly areas where forestation is possible total 159,400 hectares, 0.8 percent of the total; the freshwater area is 1.353 million hectares, accounting for 6.4 percent. Over half of the soil in the province is red or yellow earth. Nearly 20 percent of the cultivated areas are suitable for paddy planting.
The province has a complete water system. Dongting Lake in northern Hunan, the second largest fresh water lake in China, has a water area of 2,691 square km. It takes the waters of the Xiangjiang River, Zishui River, Yuanjiang River and Lishui River from the southwest, and then flows into the Yangtze River at Chenglingji.
Xiangjiang River, Zishui River, Yuanjiang River and Lishui River have a total waterway length of 2,200 km in Hunan, with nearly 5,000 tributaries.
There are more than 5,341 rivers over 5 km in length, totaling 90,000 km, with annual runoff of 200.43 billion cubic meters.
The total surface water and total underground water are 175.92 billion cubic meters and 43.85 billion cubic meters respectively.
Hunan has various and abundant minerals. Of the over 140 kinds of minerals found nationwide, 111 kinds are found in the province; at least 83 of these are currently exploitable.
The province is known as the ¡°hometown of nonferrous metals¡±, with the presence of 37 types confirmed among them. Deposits of stibium rank largest in the world, while deposits of tungsten, bismuth and monazite rank first in China. There is also abundant lead and zinc.
Non-metallic minerals are the second largest group of resources. Deposits of jade-like stone, barite, feldspar and meerschaum, etc. are the largest in the country. Hunan has another 30-plus minerals like limestone, silica, dolomite, pyrite and phosphorite. Coal deposits rank first among the nine provinces in south China.
The energy sector in Hunan includes production of coal, crude oil processing and power construction.
Currently, coal deposits totaling 3.4 billion tons have been confirmed. Oil is still under exploration, but Hunan has large-scale crude oil processing enterprises.
The province has a potential hydropower capability of 15.32 million kw, of which 10.84 million kw can now be exploited. Currently, some large hydropower generating plants like Fengtan, Dongjiang and Wuqiangxi have been set up. By 1998, the installed capacity had reached 5.1 million kw. After continuous construction and extension, the installed capacity of thermal power reached 4.82 million kw by the end of 1998. Several more hydropower generating plants and thermal power plants will be set up by 2010. Besides, Hunan is preparing for the establishment of nuclear power plants.
Hunan¡¯s electricity network now covers 90 percent of the province.
Hunan has a variety of animals and wide range of distribution. Incomplete statistics show that the province has 70 kinds of mammals, 310 kinds of birds, over 70 kinds of creeping animals and over 160 kinds of fish. It has 44 rare and state-protected animals. Eighteen kinds of rare animals are under Class A protection, like the white-flag dolphin, South China tiger. Nineteen kinds of animals, like the macaque and short-tail monkey, are under Class B protection. The third category of protected animals includes seven species, such as bear.
Hunan, lying in a sub-tropical area, has a mild climate and flourishing plants. Forest cover totals 34.3 percent, and land used for forestry accounts for 57.4 percent of the province¡¯s total area. As an important timber base in South China, Hunan currently has 2,470 kinds of woody plants, with a total accumulated volume of 184 million cubic meters and annual growth of 11 million cubic meters.
In addition, it has abundant grassland resources.
Hunan has lots of elegant landscapes and numerous historic sites. It now has over 20,000 cultural remains, including 22 national-level key protection units and 211 provincial-level key protection units.
The province has four state-class natural reserves, 22 provincial-class natural reserves and 21 national forest parks. The total area of nature reserves is 7,260 square km, 3.43 percent of the province¡¯s total.
Hunan has developed 43 scenic areas. There are three national-level key scenic areas covering Mount Hengshan, WulinYuan, Yueyang Tower, Dongting Lake and Shaoshan, and 27 provincial¨Cclass scenic areas.
WulingYuan tourist area (including Zhangjiajie, Suoxi Valley and Tianzi Mountain and Mengdong River), with its unique physiognomy, limestone caves, brooks, hot springs, ancient trees and rare animals, has been placed by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the World Natural Heritage List. Mount Hengshan is the famous sacred mountain of Buddhism and a summer resort. Yueyang Tower is also well known at home and abroad for its long history, folklore and grand architecture. Changsha, the provincial capital, is a historic and cultural city. Tourist sites there include Han Dynasty Tombs at Mawangdui, Yuelu Hill, Loving Youth Pavilion (Aiwanting), Orange Isle (Juzizhou), andYuelu Academy of Classical Learning.
In 2002, Hunan established 149 environment-monitoring stations, with a staff of 2,498. It completed 374 pollution-prevention projects involving investment of 70.1 million yuan. The province also set up 1,072 square km of smog-control zones, 1,094 square km of noise-control zones. The comprehensive rectification of Dongting Lake has achieved much: its ecology is greatly improved, the water area is enlarged and floodwater storage is also strengthened.
But pollution and ecological breakages in some areas have not been effectively controlled
By the end of 2002, Hunan had a total population of 66 million. Among them, 21 million are urban residents, and 45 million are rural residents.
Population growth rate:
The birth rate of the province in 2002 was 11.56¡ë, and death rate was 6.7¡ë. The natural population growth rate was 4.86¡ë.
Life expectancy: 69 years.
Hunan Province has a total of 41 ethnic groups including Han, Tujia, Miao, Yao, Dong, Bai, Hui and Uygur. According to the fifth census in 2000, the Han population was 57.8 million, 89.79 percent of the provincial total, while minorities are 6.58 million or 10.21 percent. Compared with the fourth census in 1990, the number of ethnic minority people has increased 2.26 percentage points. The majority of local minorities live in the mountainous regions of west, south and east Hunan.
The fifth census reveals that 1.885 million residents are in higher education (junior college and above), accounting for 10.21 percent; those receiving high school education (including secondary professional education) are 7.164 million, 11.84 percent; youngsters receiving junior high school education total 22.96 million, 37.95 percent of the total; while there are 24.68 million at elementary school level or 40.8 percent. Of the total population, 2.995 million are illiterate, accounting for 5.98 percent of the province¡¯s population above the age of 15.
By the end of 2002, Hunan had 60 colleges and universities, and 419,400 enrolled students. There are 16 graduate-level institutes, with 14,147 students enrolled and 24 adult colleges with an enrolment of 301,800. There are 113 secondary technical schools, with 223,700 students. Besides, Hunan has 4,712 middle schools, taking in 4.669 million students. Hunan¡¯s middle school education rate is 93 percent. Currently, the province has 27,243 primary schools, with 5.29 million pupils. Its primary education rate is 97.64 percent
Hunan¡¯s GDP in 2002 was 434.09 billion yuan, up 9 percent from the previous year.
Per capita GDP
In 2002, its per capita GDP reached 6,565 yuan..
GDP ratio (1st, 2nd, and tertiary industry)
In 2002, the added value of primary industry was 84.7 billion yuan, up 2.6 percent; secondary industry 137.2 billion yuan, up 10.9 percent; tertiary industry 175.6 billion yuan, up 10.5 percent. The ratio of the three industries is 19.5 : 40 : 40.5.
At the end of 2002, the registered number of laid-off workers from state-owned enterprises (SOEs) was 394,900, down 14.4 percent from the previous year. About 252,300 were re-employed at the same time. The registered urban unemployment rate was 4 percent.
People in poverty and Aid-the-poor Program
Hunan put capital of 1.16 billion yuan into the Aid-The-Poor Program in 2002. By the end of the year, 100,000 more poor people had adequate supply of food and clothing.
The fiscal revenue in 2001 was 36.165 billion yuan (US$4.4 billion), up 10.03 percent over the previous year and exceeding the growth rate of gross national product (GNP) for the first time.
Industrial output value and growth rate
The industrial added value in 2002 was 144.08 billion yuan, up 11 percent.
Agricultural output value and growth rate
The combined revenue of agriculture, forestry, stockbreeding and fishing was 131.323 billion yuan, up 4 percent.
In 2002, the total revenue of imports and exports was US$2.876 billion, up 4.3 percent over previous year. Export revenue was US$1.795 billion, up 2.4 percent, and import revenue was US$1.081 billion, up 7.6 percent.
In 2002, contractual foreign investment totaled US$1.658 billion, up 24.6 percent. The actually utilized foreign capital was US$1.377 billion, up 16 percent. The foreign direct investment (FDI) was US$1.03 billion, up 27.3 percent.
Hunan Province has formed a complete industrial system with pillar industries like metallurgy, machinery, electronics, food, energy, and building materials
In Hunan, the Beijing-Guangzhou and Jiaozuo-Liuzhou railways run through from north to south China, while the Zhejiang-Jiangxi, Hunan-Guizhou, Hunan-Guangxi and Shimen-Changsha Railways cross from west to east China, totaling 2,275 kilometers in length. Besides, there are over 1,200 kilometers of local railways and special railways that connect to the national network. Zhuzhou and Huaihua railway stations are both large freight-marshalling yards. Railways run through all the 14 cities, autonomous prefectures and the majority of the counties in Hunan Province.
There are four national highways running north-south and three west-west connecting with over 70 provincial highways as well as lots of country roads.
Hunan has some 15,000 kilometers of waterways, linking 95 percent of cities and over 30 percent of the towns in the province. Through the two 5,000-ton-level inland ports of Chenglingji, ships can reach the sea via the Yangtze River.
Hunan has 56 air routes, linking 45 cities in China. Huanghua International Airport, as well as Zhangjiajie Airport and Changde Airport, have not only opened flight routes to major domestic cities, but also to Hong Kong, Bangkok and Seoul.
Changsha sits at the northeast of Hunan Province in south-central China. It is known for its warm climate and is the economic and political capital of Hunan. Thanks to its position as the central transport hub for Hunan, it is also easily reached by air, rail and road, with a limited passenger service bringing visitors by water.
Being the political and economic center in Hunan, Changsha is quite a large place occupying land of 11,800 sq. km. With a population of 5.63 million, Changsha is among the first group of Chinese cities which were selected as famous historical and cultural cities in the country and allowed to open-up to the outside world. Thus, it has become an important city in central China enjoying the fastest economic growth and immense vitality.
A cradle of the ancient Chu and Xiang civilizations rooted in central China, Changsha was the hometown of many great figures in both ancient and modern history of China, including Qu Yuan, Jia Yi, Zhu Xi, Zeng Guofan, Mao Zedong and Liu shaoqi. The city boasts countless discoveries of historical and cultural values. For example, unearthed here was the world-famous Mawangdui Tomb of the Han Dynasty, in which a female mummy and her jewelry, which are 2,000 years old, were discovered. Recently, 170,000 bamboo sticks that were used for printing books were found in an ancient tomb in Changsha. This discovery, harking back to the period from 220 to 280, is regarded as one of the most important archaeological discoveries in China so far. Changsha is also famous for being the home of Yuelu Academy which was established about 1,000 years ago.
Zhangjiajie got known to the world in 1980s, and has become a famous tourist spot for its uniqueness of natural features and primitive charm. In 1982, it was granted the name "the First National Forest Park" by the State Council. In October 1998, Wulingyuan was listed as one of the key historical scenic spots by the State Council. On December 7, 1992 it was put into the World Natural Heritage Catalogue by the World Heritage Committee of UNECO, and in December 2000, certified the State AAAA Quality and awarded a golden medal of "the State-level Civilized Scenic Resort". It was pointed in the Technical Appraisal Report by the Alliance of International Nature and Natural Resource Protection that Wulingyuan can be comparable with some other national natural reserves in the west part of the United States of America. Indeed, Wulingyuan has natural beauty for its innumerable fantastic rock formations, luxuriant green plants and clear lakes and streams.
Fenghuang Ancient Town was built in 1203AD and was previously known as Zhengan. Eventually the name changed to Fenghuang which means 'Phoenix', a mythical bird of good omen and longevity that is consumed by fire to be re-born again from the flames. Legend has it that two of these mythical birds flew over the town and was reluctant to leave for a while since they found it very beautiful. Hence the name Fenghuang Town or Phoenix Town came to be.
Shaoshan is about forty kilometers west of the county town of Xiangtan, Hunan Province. It is one of the seventy-two peaks of the majestic Mount Hengshan. According to legend, when King Yu was on his way south to inspect the flood control projects, he stopped here and played some ancient Shao music. The place was therefore called Shaoshan-Mount of the Shao Music. A village called Shaoshanchong at the foot of the mountain was where Mao Zedong (1893-1976), the late leader of China was born and grew up. An exhibition hall memorializing Mao's life and revolutionary activities has been built at the town of Shaoshan, formerly Shaoshanchong Village, and is now open to visitors who can stay at the local hotel. There are regular train and bus services between Shaoshan and Changsha.
Shaoshan, a mountain village about 100km southwest of Changsha, with some fairly beautiful scenery and a once typically Hunan village atmosphere, has been irreparably changed by history. On the 26th December 1893, a baby was born in a little house in this village, to a relatively wealthy peasant couple. The child was to grow up to become China's Great Helmsman, Chairman Mao Zedong, and it was in this region that he spent his childhood and youth, attending school and helping his father with his work.
The tourist attractions in the village are highly propagandorial, but then this is all part and parcel of the Mao image. Loudspeakers will great you on arrival with revolutionary songs and speeches, the village is guarded by sleepily bored soldiers and the history is only partially represented at best. The revolutionary tourist attractions include the Former Residence of Mao Zedong (Mao zedong guju), the Ancestral Temple of the Mao Family, now Comrade Mao's Museum (Mao zedong tongzhi jinianguan), Stone Steles covered with Mao's poems, and a Revolutionary Martyr's Cemetery. The former residence is the most interesting. Entered through a courtyard, the house is of a sunny yellow, mud brick walls, with a nicely thatched roof, and is found on a wooded hillside, above some lush paddy fields. You can visit all of the 13 rooms inside, that include a kitchen, a dining room, three family bedrooms, a guest room and an ancestral hall. Within the rooms are various personal effects of Mao and his parents, as well as photos from Mao's life.
If the propaganda gets too much, the area around the village is of the beautifully simple Hunan countryside, with small peasant houses scattered about the stepped paddyfields and bamboo groves. The Dripping Water Cave (Dishui dong), about 3km northwest of the village, is a very popular destination, possibly because of the fact that Mao allegedly spent 11 days here in the early days of the Cultural Revolution Years (1966-76), contemplating the unknown. Even nicer however, is the ascent to Shao Hill Peak (Shaoshan feng), the conical hill just to the northwest of the village. From the summit (reached on foot about 2 hours or by cable car, you will have some good views over the village and Hunanese countryside.
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