Situated in the Bohai Rim Economic Development Zone in north China, Shanxi covers an area of 156,000 square km, with forests constituting 20 percent, or about 3.44 million hectares.
Shanxi abounds in mineral resources. Of the more than 120 kinds of underground minerals so far discovered in the province, 53 have verified reserves. Of them, reserves of coal, bauxite, pearlite, gallium and zeolite rank first in the nation. The province is especially noted as the ¡°kingdom of coal,¡± with verified reserves amounting to 261.2 billion tons, accounting for one-third of the nation¡¯s total.
Shanxi has about 1,700 species of known seed plants in 134 families, including more than 480 kinds of woody plants. In terms of flora resource distribution, the southern and southeastern parts of the province are richest in diversity of vegetation types and plant species. They include broadleaved deciduous forests, estival (summer) broadleaved forests composed chiefly of secondary deciduous shrubs, and mixed coniferous and broadleaved forests. The central part has vaster expanses of forests, mainly composed of coniferous forests, mesophytic deciduous scrub forests and estival broadleaved forests. The northern and northwestern parts are rich in temperate bushes and semiarid grassland, but have fewer forests. Dominant plants there include Chinese silver grass, xeric wormwood, caragana microphylla and sea-buckthorn. Relatively speaking, Shanxi lacks forest resources, being .one of China¡¯s most deficient provinces.
However, it abounds in wild plants. Of the more than 1,000 species so far discovered, there are over 90 species of wild medicinal plants widely distributed in hilly areas. Famous ones include Codonopsis pilosola, Astragalus membranaceus, liquorice and weeping golden bell. Major wild fiber plants include nilghiri nettle, splendid achnatherum, Chinese small iris, kudzu vines, chaste trees and Chinese alpine rush.
There are more than 400 species of terrestrial wild animals in Shanxi, including some 70 species of rare animals under state protection. The 14 species under first-class protection include white stork, black stork, golden eagle, sea eagle, vulture, brown pheasant, red-crowned crane, great bustard, leopard, tiger and sika deer. The 56 species under second-class protection comprise 40 kinds of birds, two kinds amphibians and 14 kinds of beasts. In addition, there are more than 20 species of fur-bearing animals, including otter, Marten foina, raccoon-dog, leopard cat, yellow weasel, badger and fox. Table animals include hare, wild boar, ring-necked pheasant, rock partridge and partridge. There are also more than 70 species of medicinal-supplying animals.
Water resources total 15.24 billion cubic meters.
The province is deficient in surface water, but the available resources are evenly distributed. There are eight rivers, each with a length of over 150 km. The total volume of river water runoff stands at 11.4 billion cubic meters, a figure, slightly more than that in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, ranking last but one nationally.
Generally originating from eastern and western mountainous areas, all rivers in Shanxi are outflow ones, belonging to either the Yellow or Haihe river systems. Generally speaking, rivers running west and south belong to the Yellow River system, while those flowing east belong to the Haihe River system. The Yellow River drainage area totals 97,503 square km, accounting for 62.2 percent of Shanxi¡¯s total land area. The Haihe River drainage area covers 59,320 square km, constituting 37.8 percent of the total land area. Shanxi has 1,214.6 billion cubic meters of underground water resources, but only 45 percent of them are recoverable. They are mainly distributed on the fringe of basins and in provincial border areas.
Shanxi abounds in tourism resources. Famous spots include the Yunguang Caves at Datong City in the north, Wutai Mountain, a sacred place of Buddhism in the central part, and the falls at Hukou in the south, the only waterfall on the Yellow River.
The province also encompasses the country¡¯s largest temple of martial valor -- the Guan Yu Shrine at Xiezhou -- and one of the four large whispering buildings in China, the Yingying Pagoda of Pujiu Temple in Yongji County.
Statistics show that Shanxi now preserves a total of 31,401 unmovable cultural relics of different kinds. They comprise 2,639 ruins of ancient monuments, 1,666 ancient graves, 18,118 old buildings and memorial structures of historic interest, 300 grottoes and temples, 360 sites bearing ancient vertebrate fossils, 6,852 sites with stone inscriptions and 1,466 old revolutionary sites and memorial buildings.
There are 12,345 painted sculptures in these old buildings and memorial structures of historic interest and 26,751 square meters of murals in old temples. Therefore, the province has broad prospects for developing tourism based on its rich cultural relics to make it a pillar sector of the economy.
Shanxi has abundant electric power resources, possessing the largest number of power plants each with an installed capacity of over 1 million kw. The combined installed generating capacity of the province now totals 8.475 million kw, with annual power production reaching 41.78 billion kwh. Over the past 15 years, the province has built six 500-kv UHV transmission lines, with a transformer capacity of 1 million KVA, and 69 229-kv transmission lines, with a transformer capacity of 6.036 million KVA. Shanxi plays a key role in the North China Power Grid. At present, nearly 2,000 townships and towns in the province have access to electricity and during power consumption time, more than 95 percent of rural households can be guaranteed access, both figures being higher than the national average. Shanxi is also a major electricity exporter; providing, for example, a quarter of the power consumed in Beijing.
Shanxi has a population of 31.41 million, with natural population growth controlled within 9¡ë.
The largest ethnic group in Shanxi, the Han, account for 99.75 percent of the total population. The province also has 34 ethnic minority groups, including the Hui, Manchu, Mongolian, Korean and Tibetan, with 67,000 people. There are 58 villages where ethnic minority groups live in compact communities.
There are 10 cities directly under the provincial government. They are Taiyuan, Datong, Changzhi, Yangquan, Jinzhong, Jincheng, Xinzhou, Shuozhou, Linfen and Yuncheng. Shanxi also has one prefecture, Luliang, and 118 counties (cities and districts).
GDP growth rate: 8.3 percent.
Revenue: 22.91 billion yuan (US$2.77 billion) in 2001, up 17.8 percent over the previous year.
Foreign Trade: The total volume of imports and exports increased 10 percent in 2001.
By 1996, more than 40 countries and regions had invested in Shanxi. Overseas investors include many world-renowned conglomerates, such as US-based CBM energy group, Chia Tai Group of Thailand and Britain¡¯s BOC. Since the first foreign-funded enterprise was established in 1984, Shanxi had approved 1,947 foreign-funded enterprises by the end of 1998, with contractual foreign investment reaching US$3.159 billion and actually used foreign capital standing at US$1.08 billion.
Cultivated land covers 3.66 million hectares, accounting for 23 percent of the province¡¯s total area. The province¡¯s agricultural economy relies mainly on farm production supplemented by the breeding industry. Farm crops include corn, millet, rice, wheat, sorghum, potato, tuber crops, buckwheat, broomcorn millet, and bean crops. The province also produces such cash crops as cotton, tobacco, sugar beet, oil crops and hemp. It abounds in fruits such as apple, pear, grapes, walnuts and red dates, as well as precious medicinal herbs like Codonopsis pilosola and Astragalus membranaceus. The breeding industry primarily raises livestock and poultry (pig, horse, ox, sheep, chicken, rabbit, donkey, mule), plus sericulture and apiculture. In recent years, the province has developed freshwater fish farming, with products basically satisfying market demand.
Coal, metallurgy, machine building, power, chemistry, light industry and textiles form the pillar industries of Shanxi.
Poverty alleviation plan:
The poverty relief program for 2002 was aimed at enabling 1.82 million poverty-stricken people to have adequate food and clothing, and helping those who had just solved the problem of food and clothing increase their income and raise their living standards.
The railway network comprises nine trunk railways, including the Shijiazhuang-Taiyuan, Beijing-Yuanping and Beijing-Baotou railways, 13 main feeder lines and more than 400 access lines. It connects with national railway traffic arteries, the Beijing-Baotou, Beijing-Guangzhou and Lianyungang-Lanzhou railways, thus linking Shanxi with all major cities across the country and Tianjin, Qinhuangdao and Shijiusuo ports.
Connecting with the Beijing-Shijiazhuang Expressway, the newly built Taiyuan-Jiuguan Expressway has converged into the Beijing-Tianjin-Tanggu and Beijing-Shenzhen expressway network. The Yuanping-Taiyuan Expressway, opened to traffic in 1998, is a section of the projected Datong-Yuncheng Expressway, which will run through the province from north to south. Shanxi has built a complete highway network based on national highways and supplemented by country roads, which connects major industrial enterprises, mines and cash crop production bases with railways and links Shanxi with neighboring provinces. The province has established a sound transportation management system, with transportation undertakings dominated by the state sector and collective and individual firms encouraged to participate in competition.
The Taiyuan Airport has opened 41 air routes linking Shanxi with 30 major cities around the mainland as well as with Hong Kong
Taiyuan is a city bounded on three sides by mountains. It has a long history and in ancient times was an important military town. At present, Taiyuan is one of China's heavy industrial cities and account for more than half the national coal mining output.
Taiyuan also has a wealth of tourist attractions and notably among these is the Jinci Temple. This is the city's most attractive temple although the Shuangta Si (Twin-Pagoda Temple) has become a symbol of Taiyuan on account of its unique architecture. Another major attraction is the Tianlong Shan Stone Caves where magnificent sculptures dating from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) may be seen.
Taiyuan benefits from convenient public transport systems as the city is the provincial transportation hub. Accommodation facilities have become more and more advanced over recent years and range from 5-star hotels to a selection of comfortable guest houses.
The gourmand should be aware that Shanxi noodles are highly reputed all over China, as well as the local vinegar. Other local delicacies are the Tou Nao, the Steamed Dumpling, Sausages and Mutton Soup. To accompany these wholesome foods there are Fen Jiu (Fen Wine) and Zhuye Qing (Zhuye Qing Wine). As well as its cuisine the city is noted for products such as finely crafted lacquer ware.
While the local emphasis is upon heavy industry certain aspects of city life such as cultural development has suffered from some neglect. This could be a problem and needs action to be taken
Datong is situated in northern Shanxi Province. It is bordered by Inner Mongolia to the North and Hebei Province to the east. Covering an area of 14,176 square kilometers (5473 square miles), Datong has four districts and seven counties under its prefecture. It is the second largest city in Shanxi Province with a population of 2.99 million.
Known as the 'City of the Coal', Datong has developed into the second largest industrial city in Shanxi due to its advantage in energy. Its large reserves of coal make it a very important energy base for China. Since it is a key resource city, transportation connections with Datong are quite convenient, especially by road and by train. Series of railways and roads work as a huge net to connect Datong with many other cities
Datong is one of the 24 famous historical and cultural cities in China due to its ever prosperous history. With a history of over 2400 years, Datong was the capital of Northern Wei (386~534) for 96 years, and the 'support capital' of Liao (916~1125) and Jin (1115~1234). It was the political, economic and military center of ancient North China, which attracted many people from various nations for trade or business. These prosperous days left Datong with a series of splendid historic and cultural relics like the Yungang Grottoes and Hanging Monastery. Most of them are the integration of minorities' cultural and Han culture.
The scenery of Datong differs markedly from the delicate and pretty cities south of Yangtze River. Here, green hills and small clean streams are rarely seen. What you can find is continuous peaks rising one upon another; majestic old temples standing for thousands of years and the vast sky and light cloud over your head. All of this reveals a grand and infinite air
In the central area of Shanxi Province lies an ancient county typical of rural counties in North China--simple and steeped in ancient tradition. What's different is that this county is linked firmly to a certain prosperous time in Chinese history. It played quite an important role in the economic development of Shanxi during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
Pingyao County is 94 kilometers (58.4 miles) southwest of Taiyuan. With an area of 1,260 square kilometers (486.5 square miles), it has five towns and nine villages under its prefecture. Unlike those cities or counties south of the Yangtze River, Pingyao was not endowed with charming natural scenery but with a group of accomplished businessmen. Pingyao was the birthplace of the Jin Businessmen, who were one of the two famous Chinese business groups during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Owing to this, the first Chinese exchange shop was opened in Pingyao. Then, for the next hundred years, Pingyao was home to almost all of the large exchange shops in China. To a certain degree, Pingyao was to China during the eighteenth century what Wall Street is to the US, which not only helped promote the economic development of Shanxi, but also left us with a magnificent old city and a series of grand residences
Pingyao has now become quite a hot tourist attraction even though it is no longer economically prosperous. It boasts the famous Pingyao Old City which was included in the United Nations World Cultural Heritage in 1997. From the top of the grand City Wall, you have a bird's-eye view of the Old City, a complete city built almost a thousand years ago. In the Ancient Ming and Qing Street, you can experience the town's former glory while exploring the rows of residences and shops all constructed in the original architectural style.
Today, Pingyao's economic and government center has gradually moved outside the Old City. A residential area and commercial buildings have sprung up around the Old City. Department stores, super markets, hotels, and other entertainment venues show this ancient county's renewed vitality. While it does its best to keep its valuable old culture and heritage, Pingyao continues to develop into a modern new county.
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