(West of the Mountains -- named from its lying west of
the Taihang range) has many places of scenic and historical
interest as one of the cradles of ancient Chinese culture,
Bounded by the North China Plain in the east and the middle
Huanghe River in .the west, it has an area of more than
150,000 square kilometers and a population of 24.76 million,
of which 3.37 million are in the urban areas and 21.39
million in the countryside.
Datong -- Ancient Land of Buddhism
Huangling County -- Where
the Yellow Emperor Rests in Peace
Taiyuan --'Metropolis of Cathy'
The Old Town of
Mount Wutai -- Sacred to Buddhists
cover 67.5 per cent of Shanxi province which also has
highlands, hills and basins and stands about 1,000 meters
or more above sea level, sloping from northeast to southwest.
With a thick layer of yellow earth covering its land surface,
Shanxi is customarily called the Shanxi Plateau, which
actually forms the eastern section of the Loess Plateau.
The Central Shanxi Basin, the main farming area and economic
center, crosses the central part of the province from
north to south in a series of valleys: the Datong, Xinxian,
Taiyuan, Linfen and Yuncheng. The Taihang range, the natural
geographic divide between the Shanxi Plateau and the North
China Plain, lies in the Eastern Shanxi Mountain Area
which also includes -- from north to south --the Hengshan,
Wutai, Taiyue and Zhongtiao mountains, all exceeding 1,500
meters in elevation. The area is interspersed with the
Changzhi, Pingding, Jincheng and Shouyang intermontane
basins. The Western Shanxi Tableland, with the Luliang
Mountains as the main range, is badly eroded with the
loess-covered ground cut into a web of gullies.
western and southern borders of Shanxi are drained by
the Huanghe River where the Hukou Waterfall and the Longmen
Rapids have hydroelectric power potential. The Fenhe,
Sushui and Qinhe rivers in the province are tributaries
of the Huanghe; the Sanggan, Hutuo and Zhanghe rivers
in the east are upriver streams of the Haihe River.
is continental in climate. Because it is higher than regions
of the same latitude in the North China Plain, it has
a lower temperature and a drier climate. It has cold winters
but mild summers. From north to south, its mean annual
temperature is from 5ºC to 15ºC, and its frost-free
period lasts 4 to 7 months. The greater part of the province
has a mean annual precipitation of 400-650 mm., increasing
gradually from northwest to southeast.
is served by three trunk railway lines--the Beijing-Baotou,
Datong-Puzhou and Shijiazhuang-Taiyuan railways. In 1979
a line, from the provincial capital, Taiyuan, to Jiaozuo
in Henan, was opened to traffic. The province's highway
mileage is 31,900 kilometers.