Province of south China, consisting mainly of high plateaus and bounded to the north by Sichuan, to the east by Hunan, to the south by Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and to the west by Yunnan; area 174,000 sq km/67,000 sq mi; population (2013 est) 35,022,200 (ethnic minorities comprise about 25% of the population). The capital is Guiyang; other main cities are Zunyi, Anshun, and Duyun. Chief industries include the mining of coal, bauxite, mercury, and manganese, and the manufacture of machinery, foodstuffs, and timber products; agriculture, mainly in the river valleys and terraced slopes, is based on the cultivation of rice, maize, tobacco, tea, and rapeseed.
History Guizhou was not settled by the Han Chinese until the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), and was formerly one of the most poorly developed and sparsely populated provinces of China. In 1935 Mao Zedong became the leader of the Chinese Communist Party at a conference in Zunyi, in the north of the province. The Japanese invasion (1937–45) forced the nationalist Guomindang government to retreat to the southwest, bringing Guizhou into prominence and promoting its development.
Topography Guizhou is part of the Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau, which has an average elevation in the province of about 1,000 m/3,300 ft. The terrain is very rugged and irregular. The chief river is the Wu Jiang, a tributary of the Chang Jiang.
Climate The province experiences mild winters, with January average temperatures ranging from 2°C/36°F to 10°C/50°F. Summers are hot and humid, with July average temperatures varying from 20°C/68°F to 28°C/82°F, the higher temperatures occurring in the southeast of the province. Average annual precipitation ranges from 900 mm/35 in in the northwest to 1,500 mm/59 in in the southwest, with about half the rain falling in the summer. The skies are often overcast; the centre of Guizhou has over 200 cloudy days a year.
Economy Rice and maize are the principal crops, and some tea and tobacco are grown, but agriculture is limited by the rugged topography. The chief wealth of Guizhou lies in its mineral resources. Scattered coal deposits are used locally, but the most valuable yields are non-ferrous metals, particularly mercury and also gold, silver, tin, and lead. The principal mercury mine is at Wanshan in the eastern part of the province. There are also considerable deposits of bauxite and manganese.
People Ethnic minorities include the Hmong, Puyi, Dong, Sui, and Yi peoples.