Province of north China, bounded to the north by Inner Mongolia, to the east by Hebei, to the south by Henan, and to the west by Shaanxi; area 157,100 sq km/60,700 sq mi; population (2013 est) 36,298,000. The capital is Taiyuan. There are coal, iron and steel, heavy machinery, mining equipment, and chemical industries, while cement, paper, and textiles are also manufactured. Fruit and cereals are grown, and meat is produced.
History Although part of the heartland of Chinese culture, Shanxi's position on the northern border made it vulnerable to attack, and it spent long periods under the rule of barbarian dynasties. While under the control of the Northern Wei dynasty (386–535), Datong became an important centre of Buddhist culture. The province was the origin of a revolt against the Tang dynasty at the beginning of the 9th century, and was reunified with the rest of China until 979, during the reign of the second Song dynasty emperor. Later it was part of the domains of the Liao (945–1125) and Jin (Khitan) (1122–1234) dynasties, and the Mongol Empire. In 1900 support for the Boxer Rebellion was particularly strong in Shanxi, and many foreigners and Chinese Christians were killed. In the 1911 Chinese Revolution the warlord Yan Xishan took control of the province; he started the development of Shanxi's coalmining and the construction of a railway network.
Geography Shanxi is bounded on the west and south by the Huang He River, separating it from Shaanxi and Henan provinces; on the north by the Great Wall of China, which separates it from Inner Mongolia; and on the east by the Taihang Mountains, which run between Shanxi and Hebei provinces.
Together with Shaanxi to the west, Shanxi consists of a dissected plateau, between 500 m/1,640 ft and 2,000 m/6,560 ft in height, covered by wind-blown superficial deposits of loess, a loamy soil from the Ordos Desert of Inner Mongolia to the north. The principal tributary of the Huang He in Shanxi is the Fen He, which follows a line of faulting running north–south in the centre of the province. This valley is the major area of settlement and contains the provincial capital, Taiyuan. Other towns include Datong.
Climate Shanxi experiences cold winters, with January average temperatures varying from −2°C/28°F to −15°C/5°F in the west. Summers are hot, with July average temperatures ranging from 19°C/66°F to 28°C/82°F. Precipitation falls mainly in the summer months, the amount varying greatly from year to year; annual averages may range from 700 mm/27 in in the southeast to 350 mm/14 in in the northwest.
Economy Agriculture in the valley is largely dependent upon irrigation, the principal crops being winter wheat, sorghum, and millet. Cotton and hemp are also grown. Shanxi is traditionally renowned for its pears and Chinese dates. Further west in the province agricultural yields become poorer, mainly because of the dryness of the climate.
Shanxi is rich in coal and iron. The largest concentrations of coalmines are around Datong in the north, Taiyuan and Yangquan in the centre, and Jincheng in the south. Pingshuo, China's second-largest open-cast coal mine, is located in the province. Taiyuan is an important iron- and steel-producer, and has engineering and chemical industries. Datong is a major railway junction and coalmining centre, with heavy engineering and cement works.
Features Shanxi has many places of historical interest, being one of the earliest settled regions of China. The 5th-century Yungang grottoes, near Datong, have outstanding Buddhist sculptures.
Great Wall of China
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