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Shanxi

Shanxi is situated in the northern part of China. Its one-character abbreviation is Jin, after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn Period.

The name Shanxi literally means "mountain's west", which refers to the province's location west of the Taihang Mountains. Shanxi borders Hebei to the east, Henan to the south, Shaanxi to the west, and Inner Mongolia to the north. The capital ofMap of Shanxi, China Shanxithe province is Taiyuan.

History
Shanxi was the territory of state of Jin during the Spring and Autumn Period (722 BC - 403 BC), which underwent a three-way split into the states of Han, Zhao and Wei in 403 BC, the traditional date taken as the start of the Warring States Period (403 BC - 221 BC). By 221 BC all of these states had fallen to the state of Qin, which established the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC).

For centuries Shanxi was the center of trade and banking, and the term "Shanxi Merchant" was once synonymous with wealth; the well-preserved city of Pingyao, in Shanxi, also shows many signs of its former dominance as a center of trade and banking. Due to Shanxi's geographic location in the Great China and its natural environment, Shanxi was the richest province in Zhongyuan or Center China. In the Qing Dynasty, Pingyao was the centre of Chinese banking industry, a county in contemporary time famous for its UNESCO ancient city walls and ancient China's Wall Street for its financial importance in history. In modern times, the mining of coal is important in Shanxi's economy, but has also been the subject of severe criticism due to its deplorable conditions. Since 2004 the province has been plagued with labour safety issues, including a slave labour scandal involving children, causing significant civil unrest and national embarrassment.

Geography and Climate
Shanxi is located on a plateau, which is in turn made up of higher ground to the east (Taihang Mountains) and the west (Lüliang Mountains), and a series of valleys in the center through which the Fen River runs. The highest peak is Mount Wutai (Wutai Shan) in northeastern Shanxi at an altitude of 3058 m. The Great Wall of China forms most of the northern border of Shanxi with Inner Mongolia.

The Huang He (Yellow River) forms the western border of Shanxi with Shaanxi. The Fen and Qin rivers, tributaries of the Huang He, run north-to-south through the province, and drain much of its area. The north of the province is drained by tributaries of the Hai River, such as Sanggan and Hutuo rivers. The largest natural lake in Shanxi is Xiechi Lake, a salt lake near Yuncheng in southwestern Shanxi.

Shanxi has a continental monsoon climate, and is rather arid. Average January temperatures are below 0 °C, while average July temperatures are around 21 - 26 °C. Winters are long, dry, and cold, while summer is warm and humid. Spring is extremely dry and prone to dust storms. Shanxi is one of the sunniest parts of China; early summer heat waves are common. Annual precipitation averages around 350–700 mm, with 60% of it concentrated between June and August. 

Culture
People in most regions of Shanxi speak dialects of Jin, a subdivision of spoken Chinese. However, dialects in the southwest, near the border with Henan and Shaanxi, are classified as part of the Zhongyuan Mandarin subdivision of the Mandarin group rather than Jin. In terms of characteristics, Jin dialects are generally distinguished by their retention of the entering tone from Middle Chinese. In this respect they are unique in all of northern China, as most of the surrounding Mandarin dialects (spoken over the remainder of northern China) have lost it. (In central and southern China, it is much more common for the entering tone to be kept.) Jin is also noted for extremely complex tone sandhi systems.

Shanxi cuisine is most well known for its extensive use of vinegar as a condiment and for its noodles. A dish originating from Taiyuan, the provincial capital, is the Taiyuan Tounao (literally "Taiyuan Head"). It is a soup brewed using mutton, shanyao (Chinese wild yam), lotus roots, astragalus membranaceus (membranous milk vetch), tuber onions, as well as cooking liquor for additional aroma. It can be enjoyed by dipping pieces of unleavened cake into the soup, and is reputed to have medicinal properties.

Shanxi Opera (Jinju) is a popular form of Chinese opera in Shanxi. It was popularized during the late Qing Dynasty, with the help of the then-ubiquitous Shanxi merchants who were active across parts of China. Also called Zhonglu Bangzi, it is a type of bangzi opera, a group of operas generally distinguished by their use of wooden clappers for rhythm and by a more energetic singing style; Shanxi opera is also complemented by quzi, a blanket term for more melodic styles from further south. Puzhou Opera (Puju), from southern Shanxi, is a more ancient type of bangzi that makes use of very wide linear intervals.

Shanxi merchants constituted a historical phenomenon that lasted for centuries from the Song to the Qing Dynasty. Shanxi merchants ranged far and wide from Central Asia to the coast of eastern China; by the Qing Dynasty they were conducting trade across both sides of the Great Wall. During the late Qing Dynasty, a new development occurred: the creation of piaohao, which were essentially banks that provided services like money transfers and transactions, deposits, and loans. After the establishment of the first piaohao in Pingyao, the bankers in Shanxi dominated China's financial market for centuries until the collapse of Qing Dynasty and the coming of British banks.

Tourism
Jinci in Taiyuan, famous for its temples and Song Dynasty paitings and architectures. Zuoquan County, famous for its China Communist Party battlefield sites.
The Ancient City of Pingyao is a World Heritage Site near Taiyuan. Once a great financial center of China, it is noted for its preservation of many features of northern Han Chinese culture, architecture, and way of life during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
The Yungang Grottoes, a World Heritage Site in Datong, consist of 252 caves noted for their collection of 5th and 6th century Buddhist grotto sculptures and reliefs.

Mount Wutai (Wutai Shan) is the highest point in the province. It is known as the residence of the bodhisattva Manjusri, and as a result is also a major Buddhist pilgrimage destination, with many temples and natural sights. Points of interest include Tang Dynasty (618–907) era timber halls located at Nanchan Temple and Foguang Temple, as well as a giant white stupa at Tayuan Temple built during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).
Mount Hengshan (Heng Shan), in Hunyuan County, is one of the "Five Great Peaks" of China, and is also a major Taoist site. Not far from Heng Shan, the Hanging Temple is located on the side of a cliff and has survived for 1400 years despite earthquakes in the area.

Pagoda of Fugong Temple, in Ying County, is a pagoda built in 1056 during the Liao Dynasty. It is octagonal with nine levels (five are visible from outside), and at 67 m (220 ft) in height, it is currently the tallest wooden pagoda in the world. It is also the oldest fully-wooden pagoda in China, although many no-longer-existing wooden pagodas have preceded it, and many existing stone and brick pagodas predate it by centuries.
Hukou Waterfall is located in the Yellow River on the Shanxi-Shaanxi border. At 50 meters high it is the second highest waterfall in China.
Dazhai is a village in Xiyang County. Situated in hilly, difficult terrain, it was a holy site during the Cultural Revolution, when it was set out to the entire nation as exemplary of the hardiness of the proletariat, especially peasants.
The Cloud Ridge Caves are shallow caves near Datong. There are over 50,000 carved images and statues of Buddhas and Boddhisatvas within these grottoes, ranging from 4 centimeters to 7 meters tall. 

Shanxi Tour Packages
3-Day Pingyao Shanxi Tour
4-Day Datong and Pingyao Tour




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