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Hebei

Hebei is a northern province of China. Its one-character abbreviation is Ji, named after Ji Province, a Han Dynasty province (zhou) that included southern Hebei. The name Hebei means "north of the (Yellow) River". In 1928 Hebei was formed after the central government dissolved the province of Zhili, which means "Directly Ruled (by the Imperial Court)".

Map of HebeiHebei completely surrounds Beijing and Tianjin municipalities (which also border each other). It borders Liaoning to the northeast, Inner Mongolia to the north, Shanxi to the west, Henan to the south, and Shandong to the southeast. Bohai Bay of the Yellow Sea is to the east. A small part of Hebei, an exclave disjointed from the rest of the province, is wedged between the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin.

A common alternate name for Hebei is Yānzhào, after the state of Yan and state of Zhao that existed here during the Warring States Period of early Chinese history.

History
Plains in Hebei were the home of Peking man, a group of Homo erectus that lived in the area around 200,000 to 700,000 years ago. Neolithic findings at the prehistoric Beifudi site date back to 7000 and 8000 BCE

During the Spring and Autumn Period (722 BC - 476 BC), Hebei was under the rule of the states of Yan in the north and Jin in the south. Also during this period, a nomadic people known as Dí invaded the plains of northern China and established Zhongshan in central Hebei. During the Warring States Period (403 BC - 221 BC), Jin was partitioned, and much of its territory within Hebei went to Zhao.

The Qin Dynasty unified China in 221 BC. The Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) ruled the area under two provinces (zhou), Youzhou Province in the north and Jizhou Province in the south. At the end of the Han Dynasty, most of Hebei came under the control of warlords Gongsun Zan in the north and Yuan Shao further south; Yuan Shao emerged victorious of the two, but he was soon defeated by rival Cao Cao (based further south, in modern-day Henan) in the Battle of Guandu in 200. Hebei then came under the rule of the Kingdom of Wei (one of the Three Kingdoms), established by the descendants of Cao Cao. In the later Dynasties, Hebei become a history center of China.

The founding of the People's Republic of China saw several changes: the region around Chengde, previously part of Rehe Province (historically part of Manchuria), and the region around Zhangjiakou, previously part of Chahar Province (historically part of Inner Mongolia), were merged into Hebei, extending its borders northwards beyond the Great Wall. The capital was also moved from Baoding to the upstart city of Shijiazhuang, and, for a short period, to Tianjin.

Culture
The giant Bodhisattva statue of Puning Temple, Chengde, Hebei province, built in 1755 under the Qianlong Emperor.Dialects of Mandarin are spoken over most of the province, and most Mandarin dialects in Hebei are in turn classified as part of the Ji Lu Mandarin subdivision. Regions along the western border with Shanxi, however, have dialects that are distinct enough for linguists to consider them as part of Jin, another subdivision of Chinese, rather than Mandarin. In general, the dialects of Hebei are quite similar to and readily intelligible with the Beijing dialect, which forms the basis for Standard Mandarin, the official language of the nation. However, there are also some distinct differences, such as differences in the pronunciation of certain words that derive from entering tone syllables (syllables ending on a plosive) in Middle Chinese.

Traditional forms of Chinese opera in Hebei include Pingju, Hebei Bangzi (also known as Hebei Clapper Opera), and Cangzhou Kuaiban Dagu. Pingju is especially popular: it tends to be colloquial in language and hence easy to understand for audiences. Originating from northeastern Hebei, Pingju has been influenced by other forms of Chinese opera like Beijing opera. Traditionally Pingju makes use of just a xiaosheng (young male lead), a xiaodan (young female lead), and a xiaohualian (young comic character), though it has since diversified with the use of other roles as well.

 
The Liaodi Pagoda, built in 1055 during the Song DynastyQuyang County, in central Hebei, is famous for its Dingzhou porcelain, which includes various vessels such as bowls, plates, vases, and cups, as well as figurines. Dingzhou porcelain is usually creamy white, though it is also made in other colours.

Hebei cuisine is typically based on wheat, mutton and beans.

Tourism
The east end of the Ming Great Wall is located on the coast at Shanhaiguan (Shanhai Pass), near Qinhuangdao. Informally known as the "First Pass of The World", Shanhaiguan was the place where Ming general Wu Sangui opened the gates to Manchu forces in 1644, beginning nearly 300 years of Manchu rule; Shanhai Pass also marks the psychological entrance / exit of Manchuria, so that for centuries Manchuria was known as "outside the Pass" or "east of the Pass". Beidaihe, located near Shanhaiguan, is a popular beach resort wellknown as a former meeting place for top governmental officials.

The Chengde Mountain Resort and its outlying temples are a World Heritage Site. Also known as the Rehe Palace, this was the summer resort of the Manchu Qing Dynasty emperors. The Chengde Resort was built between 1703 and 1792, and consists of a palace complex, a large park area consisting of lakes, pavilions, causeways, bridges, etc., and a number of Tibetan Buddhist and Han Chinese temples in the surrounding area.

There are Qing Dynasty imperial tombs at Zunhua (Eastern Qing Tombs) and Yixian (West Qing Tombs). The Eastern Qing Tombs are the resting place of 161 Qing emperors, empresses, and other members of the Qing imperial family, while the West Qing Tombs have 76. These are also part of a World Heritage Site.

The Zhaozhou Anji Bridge, built by Li Chun during the Sui Dynasty, is the oldest stone arch bridge in China, and one of the most significant examples of pre-modern Chinese civil engineering.

Xibaipo, a village about 90 km from Shijiazhuang, was the location of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the headquarters of the People's Liberation Army during the decisive stages of the Chinese Civil War between May 26, 1948 and March 23, 1949, at which point they were moved to Beijing. Today, the area houses a memorial site.

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