Anhui (in Chinese: 安徽 Ānhuī) is a province of the People's Republic of China. Located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huaihe River, it borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny section in the north. The capital of the province is Hefei.
The name "Anhui" derives from the names of two cities in south Anhui, Anqing and Huizhou (now Huangshan City). The abbreviation for Anhui is "Wan", because there were historically a State of Wan, a Mount Wan, and a Wan river in the province.
During the Shang Dynasty (sixteenth to eleventh century BC) most of Anhui was populated by non-Sinitic peoples known collectively as the Dongyi. King Tang of Shang, the legendary founder of the Shang Dynasty, was said to have put his capital at Bo (亳), in the vicinities of Bozhou in modern northern Anhui.
During the Warring States Period, Shouchun (modern Shou County) in central Anhui became a refugee capital for the state of Chu after its heartlands in modern Hubei province was overrun by the powerful state of Qin in the west, in 278 BC. Qin nevertheless managed to conquer all of China in 221 BC, creating the Qin Dynasty.
Anhui was administered under several different commanderies during the Qin Dynasty and the Han Dynasty. Near the end of the Han Dynasty Shouchun became the base for the warlord Yuan Shu, who declared himself emperor at one point, but soon succumbed to illness, allowing his small realm to come under the powerful warlord Cao Cao, founder of the Wei Kingdom, one of the Three Kingdoms.
The 4th century saw the influx of nomadic tribes from Central Asia into North China. This began several centuries of political division of northern and southern China. Being at the juncture of north and south, the lands comprising modern Anhui changed hands frequently and was usually bisected through the middle politically. The Battle of Feishui, between the Former Qin of the north and the Eastern Jin Dynasty of the south, took place in 383 AD in modern Anhui.
The Sui Dynasty (581-618) and the Tang Dynasty (618-907) oversaw several centuries of relative peace and unity in China. During this period Anhui was once again ruled under several different jurisdictions.
During the division of China between the Jin Dynasty in the north and the Southern Song Dynasty in the south, Anhui was once again bisected, this time along the Huai He River. This lasted until Mongol reunification of China in 1279.
The Ming Dynasty drove out the Mongols in 1368. Due to a short stint as the capital of China by the city of Nanjing in nearby Jiangsu province, the entirety of Jiangsu and Anhui kept their special status as territory-governed directly by the central government, and were called Nanzhili (南直隸 "Southern directly-governed").
The Manchu Qing Dynasty, which conquered China in 1644, changed this situation by establishing Nanzhili as Jiangnan province; in 1666 Jiangsu and Anhui were split apart as separate provinces. This was the beginning of the contemporary Anhui province, which has since kept almost the same borders as today. The one significant change that occurred was the move of the provincial capital from Anqing to Hefei in 1946.
When the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, Anhui was briefly split into two separate administrative regions: Wanbei (North Anhui) and Wannan (South Anhui). They were merged into a province in 1952.
In the 2007 book China Road, author Rob Gifford stated that the Chinese refer to Anhui as nongye dasheng ("big agricultural province"). According to Gifford this is a euphemism for a "very poor" area and that people have referred to Anhui as the "Appalachia of China.
Major rivers include the Huai He in the north and the Yangtze in the south. The largest lake is Lake Chaohu in the center of the province, with an area of about 800 km². The southeastern part of the province near the Yangtze River has many lakes as well.
As with topography, the province differs in climate from north to south. The north is more temperate and has more clearcut seasons. January temperatures average at around -1 to 2°C north of the Huai He, and 0 to 3°C south of the Huai He; in July temperatures average 27°C or above. Plum rains occur in June and July and may cause flooding.
The seventeen prefecture-level divisions of Anhui are subdivided into 105 county-level divisions (44 districts, five county-level cities, and 56 counties). Those are in turn divided into 1845 township-level divisions (972 towns, 634 townships, nine ethnic townships, and 230 subdistricts).
The Politics of Anhui Province is structured in a dual party-government system like all other governing institutions in mainland China.
The Governor of Anhui (安徽省省长) is the highest ranking official in the People's Government of Anhui. However, in the province's dual party-government governing system, the Governor has less power than the Anhui Communist Party of China Provincial Committee Secretary (安徽省委书记), colloquially termed the "Anhui Party Chief".
Natural resources of Anhui include iron in Ma'anshan, coal in Huainan, and copper in Tongling. There are industries related to these natural resources (e.g. steel industry at Ma'anshan). One of the famous Anhui-based corporations is the automobile company Chery, which is based in Wuhu.
Compared to its more successful neighbours to the east, Zhejiang and Jiangsu, Anhui has lagged markedly behind in economic development, with a GDP per capita around one third the level of those two provinces. There is great regional disparity as well, and most of the wealth is concentrated in industrial regions close to the Yangtze River, such as Hefei, Wuhu, and Ma'anshan.
Anhui's nominal GDP for 2006 was approximately 734.57 billion yuan (US$96.6 billion) and a per capita of 12,015 yuan (US$1,580). It is considered a mid-size economy in terms of economic output.
Mandarin dialects are spoken over the northern and central parts of the province. Dialects to the north (e.g. Bengbu dialect) are classified as Zhongyuan Mandarin, together with dialects in provinces such as Henan and Shandong; dialects in the central parts (e.g. Hefei dialect) are classfied as Jianghuai Mandarin, together with dialects in the central parts of neighbouring Jiangsu province. Non-Mandarin dialects are spoken in the south: dialects of Wu are spoken in Xuancheng prefecture-level city, though these are rapidly being replaced by Jianghuai Mandarin; dialects of Gan are spoken in a few counties in the southwest bordering Jiangxi province; and the Huizhou dialects are spoken in about ten counties in the far south, a small but highly diverse and unique group of Chinese dialects.
Huangmeixi, which originated in the environs of Anqing in southwestern Anhui, is a form of traditional Chinese opera popular across China. Huiju, a form of traditional opera originating in the Huizhou-speaking areas of southern Anhui, is one of the major precursors of Beijing Opera; in the 1950s Huiju (which had disappeared) was revived. Luju is a type of traditional opera found across central Anhui, from east to west.
Anhui cuisine is one of the eight great traditions of Chinese cuisine. Combining elements of cooking from northern Anhui, south-central Anhui, and the Huizhou-speaking areas of southern Anhui, Anhui cuisine is known for its use of wild game and herbs, both land and sea, and comparatively unelaborate methods of preparation.
Anhui has a high concentration of traditional products related to calligraphy: Xuanzhou (today Xuancheng) and Huizhou (today Huangshan City) are revered for producing Xuan Paper and Hui Ink, respectively, which are traditionally considered the best types of paper and ink for Chinese calligraphy. She County is famous for the She Inkstone, one of the most preferred types of inkstones (a required tool in traditional calligraphy).