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Known as Zhongyuan - Central Land in ancient China, Henan Province has a population of 98.2 million (2007).Of its total land area of 160,000 square kilomters, 55.7 per cent of 93,000 square kilometers is plain and suitable for growing crops. With its advantageous geographical location, Henan used to be a business center of China in ancient times. Its geographical advantages make the province a great base for the durrounding provinces. Henan is also an important province due to its abundant resources, vast market and conveniet transportation facilities. Since opeing-up to the outside world, Henan has gone through many changes but shown great vitality. Based on the construction of Zhengzhou as a commercial and trading city, the whole province is now setting up a number of national and regional commodity-distribution centers and specialized wholesale market. 

Map of Henan

Northern Henan, along the Yellow River, was the core area of ancient China for at least the first half of Chinese history. The two cities of Luoyang and Kaifeng each served as the capital city of a long list of dynasties.

Archaeological sites reveal that prehistoric cultures such as the Yangshao Culture and Longshan Culture were active in what is now northern Henan. The Erlitou culture, which has been controversially identified with the Xia Dynasty, the first Chinese dynasty as described in Chinese records, was also centered in Henan.

The first literate dynasty of China, the Shang Dynasty (16th-11th century BC), was centered in Henan. Their last capital, Yin, was located at the modern city of Anyang, Henan. In the 11th century BC, the Zhou Dynasty arrived from the west and destroyed the Shang Dynasty. Their capital was located initially in Hao (near present day Xi'an in Shaanxi province). In 722 BC, it was moved to Luoyang, Henan. This began the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, a period of warfare and rivalry. What is now Henan was divided into a variety of small states, including Hua (destroyed by Qin in 627BC), Chen, Cai, Cao, Zheng, Wei, and powerful Jin from Shanxi to the north. Later on these were replaced with Han and Wei. Throughout this period the state of Chu also held much of what is now southern Henan.

In 221 BC, the state of Qin from what is now Shaanxi completed the unification of China, establishing the first unified Chinese state, the Qin Dynasty. They were followed by the Han Dynasty in 206 BC, which initially put its capital in Chang'an (now Xi'an, Shaanxi). The second half of this dynasty (the Eastern Han Dynasty) moved its capital to Luoyang.

The late Eastern Han Dynasty saw war and rivalry between regional warlords. Henan was the power base of Cao Cao, who was based in Xuchang and eventually succeeded in unifying all of northern China under the Kingdom of Wei. Wei then put its capital in Luoyang. The Western Jin Dynasty that followed also put its capital at Luoyang.

In the 4th century, nomadic peoples from the north invaded northern China. Henan then came under the rule of many successive regimes, including the Later Zhao, the Former Yan, the Former Qin, the Later Yan, and the Later Qin. The Northern Wei Dynasty, which unified North China in 439, moved its capital to Luoyang in 493.

This limestone statue of a Boddhisattva was probably created in the Henan province around 570, in the Northern Qi Dynasty.Northern Wei splintered in 534 and would not be restored until 589, when the Sui Dynasty reunified China. Sui Emperor Yang's costly attempt to relocate the capital from Chang'an to Luoyang contributed to the downfall of Sui. The Tang Dynasty that followed kept its capital in Chang'an (modern Xi'an, Shaanxi). The Tang lasted for three centuries, but eventually succumbed to internal strife.

In the Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms that followed, Kaifeng was the capital of four dynasties: Later Liang Dynasty, Later Jin Dynasty, Later Han Dynasty, and Later Zhou Dynasty. The Song Dynasty that reunified China in 982 also had its capital at Kaifeng. Under Song rule, China entered a golden age of culture and prosperity, and Kaifeng was the largest city in the world. In 1127, however, the Song Dynasty succumbed to Jurchen (Jin Dynasty) invaders from the north, and in 1142 had to cede away all of northern China, including Henan. By this point, cultural and economic development in the Yangtze River delta Jiangnan region (modern southern Jiangsu, northern Zhejiang, and Shanghai) had made that area into the new economic and cultural center of China, instead of Henan. Henan would forever lose this pre-eminent position.

Kaifeng served as the Jurchen's "southern capital" from 1157 (other sources say 1161) and was reconstructed during this time. But they kept their main capital further north, until 1214, when they were forced to move the imperial court southwards to Kaifeng in order to flee the Mongol onslaught. In 1234 they succumbed to combined Mongol and Song Dynasty forces. Mongols took control, and in 1279 they conquered all of China.

Mongol rule over China ended in 1368. The Ming Dynasty that followed set up the equivalent of modern Henan province, with borders extremely similar to modern ones. The capital was, however, at Kaifeng instead of modern Zhengzhou. The Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) did not make any significant changes to this arrangement; nor did the Republic of China in their rule over Mainland China (1911–1949).

The completion of the Pinghan Railway (Beijing-Hankou) made Zhengzhou, a previously unnoted county town, into a major transportation hub. In 1954, the new People's Republic of China government moved the capital of Henan from Kaifeng to Zhengzhou. The PRC also established a short-lived Pingyuan Province consisting of what is now northern Henan and western Shandong, with capital Xinxiang. This province was abolished in 1952.

Geography and Climate
Henan is flat in the east and mountainous in the west and extreme south. The eastern and central parts of the province form part of the North China Plain. To the northwest the Taihang Mountains intrude partially into Henan's borders; to the west the Qinling Mountains enter Henan from the west and end about halfway across Henan, with branches (such as the Funiu Mountains) extending northwards and southwards. To the far south, the Dabie Mountains separate Henan from neighbouring Hubei province.

The Yellow River passes through northern Henan. It enters from the northwest, via the Sanmenxia Reservoir. After it passes Luoyang, the Yellow River is raised via natural sedimentation and artificial construction onto a levee, higher than the surrounding land. From here onwards, the Yellow River divides the Hai He watershed to the north and the Huai He watershed to the south. The Huai He itself originates in southern Henan. The southwestern corner of Henan, around Nanyang, is part of the drainage basin of the Han Shui River across the border in Hubei.

Henan has a temperate continental climate, with most rainfall in summer. The annual average rainfall varies between 580 to 1,340 millimeters. The annnual average temperature ranges from 13 °C to 16.7 °C. Temperatures average about 0°C in January, and 27 to 28°C in July. Every year, between 190 and 230 days are frost-free.

Henan is the cradle of Chinese culture. It is home to capitals of more than 20 dynasties and kingdoms in China's history. Xia, the first dynasty of China, established its realm in the Luoyang basin and the second dynasty, the Shang, made Luoyang its capital. Later, other 12 dynasties, such as the Eastern Zhou, Eastern Han, Wei, Western Jin, Northern Wei, Sui, Tang, Later Liang, Later Tang and Later Jin made Luoyang their capital, totalling 1,529 years as a capital. Hence the capital of thirteen dynasties, and Anyang, the capital during the Shang Dynasty, are among the seven most famous capitals in China (the other six ancient capitals being Luoyang, Kaifeng, Xi'an, Beijing, Nanjing and Hangzhou). In terms of culture and historical relics, Henan ranks No 1 in China for its underground relics and No 2 for its relics above ground. Among the spots of historical and cultural interests, the most faomous is the Shaolin Temple, renowned for its consummate martial art (Wushu);the White Horse Temple, the earliest Budddhist temple in China;Yinxu, the ruins of the capital of Shang Dynasty; Longmen Grottos and Longting Pavilion.

Most of Henan speaks dialects of the Mandarin group of dialects spoken in northern and southwestern China. Linguists put these dialects into the category of "Zhongyuan Mandarin". The northwestern corner of Henan is an exception, where people speak Jin dialects instead. The dialects of Henan are collectively called "the Henan dialect" in popular usage, with easily identifiable stereotypical features.

Henan opera (Yuju) is the local form of Chinese opera; it is also famous and popular across the rest of China. Henan Quju and Henan Yuediao are also important local opera forms. Henan cuisine is the local cuisine, with traditions such as the Luoyang Shuixi (Luoyang "Water Table", consisting entirely of various soups, etc.); Xinyang Duncai (Xinyang brewed vegetables), and the traditional cuisine of Kaifeng.

Important traditional art and craft products include: Junci, a type of porcelain originating in Yuzhou noted for its unpredictable colour patterns; the jade carvings of Zhenping; and Luoyang's Tangsancai ("Tang Three Colours"), which are earthenware figurines made in the traditional style of the Tang Dynasty.

Henan is located in the Yellow River valley where ancient people lived. Earlier in the New Stone Age, the light of civilization had appeared and the delicate potteries in the Peiligang Culture and Yangshao Culture, and the character signs and musical instruments 8,000 years ago have filled the present world and the ancient times with wonders. Three of the Seven Ancient Capitals of China are in Henan: Luoyang, Kaifeng and Anyang. Henan is one of the provinces that has the most historical relics in the country. There are 16 key national units of protecting historical relics and 267 provincial units of protecting historical relics. The over-ground historical relics are the second in China in number. Historical relics in museums take up one-eighth of those in China, and the underground historical relics are the first in China in number. In Henan Museum there are 120,000 historical relics, including over 40,000 rare ones. Some famous tourist attracions are:

Gaocheng Astronomical Observatory, the oldest astronomical observatory in China.
Annual Peony Show in Luoyang.
Mount Jigong, on the southern border.
Mount Song, near Dengfeng, one of the Five Sacred Mountains of China.
Shaolin Temple, on Mount Song.
The Longmen Grottoes, near Luoyang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.
Songyue Pagoda
Yinxu in Anyang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Youguo Temple with the Iron Pagoda
White Horse Temple in Luoyang
Baligou (Eight-mile valley) in Xinxiang
Bigan Temple in Xinxiang
Luwang Mausoleum in Xinxiang
Guan Mountain in Xinxiang