Province (pop., 2002 est.: 96,130,000), north-central China. It is bounded by Shanxi, Hebei, Shandong, Anhui, Hubei, and Shaanxi. It has an area of 64,500 sq mi (167,000 sq km), and its capital is Zhengzhou. An early civilization there gave rise to the Shang dynasty (18th–12th centuries BC). Kaifeng was the capital of several dynasties in the 10th century AD before becoming the capital of the Bei (Northern) Song dynasty (960–1127); Zhengzhou then became the provincial capital. Henan's principal crop is wheat. Henan has large deposits of coal, petroleum, and natural gas, which fuel the economies of its major cities. It is also a railroad transportation hub.
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With nearly 100 million people, Henan is the most populous province of China by residency. It borders Hebei to the north, Shandong to the northeast, Anhui to the southeast, Hubei to the south, Shaanxi to the west, and Shanxi to the northwest.
Henan is often called Zhongyuan (中原 zhōngyuán) or Zhongzhou (中州 zhōngzhōu), literally "central plains" or "midland"; this name is also broadly applied to the entire North China Plain. Henan is traditionally regarded as the cradle of Chinese civilization.
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.
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 (衛), and powerful Jin from Shanxi to the north. Later on these were replaced with Han and Wei (魏). 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.
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.
In 1958, Yashan in Suiping County, Henan became the first people's commune of China, heralding the beginning of the "Great Leap Forward". In the subsequent famines of the early 1960s popularly attributed to the Great Leap Forward, Henan suffered terribly, with several million lives lost.
In 1975, the collapse of the Banqiao Dam and other dams in southern Henan, following a typhoon that caused extraordinarily high levels of rainfall, is estimated to have killed 230,000 people across several counties. This was the most deadly dam-related catastrophe in human history.
In recent years the prevalence of "blood selling" (blood donation with pay) among poor villagers has put Henan in the spotlight of the nation. It was exposed that AIDS villages, where most of the population is HIV positive, have resulted because of poor sterilization techniques. The initial cover up of the crisis by local officials, followed by the national exposure, has put Henan in a somewhat negative light.
In November 2004, martial law was declared in Zhongmou county, Henan, to quell deadly ethnic clashes between Han Chinese and the Muslim Hui Chinese. The reported number of deaths ranged between 7 and 148.
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.
There are many reservoirs in Henan. Major ones include the Danjiangkou Reservoir on the border with Hubei, the Sanmenxia Reservoir, the Suyahu Reservoir, the Baiguishan Reservoir, the Nanwan Reservoir, and the Banqiao Reservoir.
The directly administered county-level city (more accurately described as a sub-prefecture-level city) is:
The seventeen prefecture-level divisions and one directly administered county-level city of Henan are subdivided into 159 county-level divisions (50 districts, twenty-one county-level cities, and 88 counties; Jiyuan is counted as a county-level city here). Those are in turn divided into 2440 township-level divisions (866 towns, 1234 townships, twelve ethnic townships, and 328 subdistricts).
Just under 99% of Henan's population is Han Chinese, while Hui account for virtually all the remaining 1%. It is the third most populous sub-national division in the world, after Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra of India.
The Governor of Henan is the highest ranking official in the People's Government of Henan. However, in the province's dual party-government governing system, the Governor has less power than the Henan Communist Party of China Provincial Committee Secretary, colloquially termed the "Henan CPC Party Chief".
Henan is actively trying to build an open economy. In 2007, the total trade volume (import and export) was US$12.8 billion, including US$8.4 billion for export. Since 2002, 7,111 foreign enterprises have been approved, and foreign funds (FDI) of US$10.64 billion have been used in contracts with a realized FDI of US$5.3 billion. Foreign exchanges are increasing continuously. Friendly provincial relationships have been established with 16 states (districts) in the United States, Japan, Russia, France, Germany, and others. Some cities of Henan have established friendly relationships (sister city) with thirty-two foreign cities.
Henan is an agricultural province, leading the provinces of China in wheat and sesame production, and is third place overall in terms of total grain output. Cotton, rice, and maize are also important crops in Henan.
There are several important centers of coal production in Henan, including Pingdingshan, Yima, and Jiaozuo. Luanchuan County in western Henan is an important center of molybdenum extraction. Electricity generation is another important industry of Henan.
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.
With the recent completion of the Zhengzhou-Xinxiang expressway, there is an expressway that now crosses Henan from north to south, as part of a longer line linking Beijing with Shenzhen. Another expressway crosses Henan from east to west, and more are being built.
Xinzheng Airport is the province's main airport.