Shanxi's name literally means "mountains' 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 of the province is Taiyuan.
The Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) ruled Shanxi as the province (zhou) of Bingzhou (幷州 Bīng Zhōu). During the invasions of northern nomads during the Sixteen Kingdoms period (304 - 439), what is now Shanxi was controlled one after the other by several regimes, including Later Zhao, Former Yan, Former Qin, and Later Yan. They were followed by Northern Wei (386 - 534), a Xianbei kingdom, which had one of its earlier capitals at present-day Datong in northern Shanxi, and which went on to rule nearly all of northern China.
During the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) and after, the area was called Hédōng (河東), or "east of the (Yellow) river".
During the first part of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period (907 - 960), Shanxi supplied three of the Five Dynasties, as well as the only one of the Ten Kingdoms to be in northern China. Shanxi was initially home to the jiedushi (commander) of Hedong, Li Cunxu, who overthrew the first of the Five Dynasties, Later Liang Dynasty (907 - 923) to establish the second, Later Tang Dynasty (923 - 936). Another jiedushi of Hedong, Shi Jingtang, overthrew Later Tang to establish the third of the Five Dynasties, Later Jin Dynasty, and yet another jiedushi of Hedong, Liu Zhiyuan, established the fourth of the Five Dynasties (Later Han Dynasty) after the Khitans destroyed Later Jin, the third. Finally, when the fifth of the Five Dynasties (Later Zhou Dynasty) was established, the jiedushi of Hedong at the time, Liu Chong, rebelled and established an independent state called Northern Han, one of the Ten Kingdoms, in what is now northern and central Shanxi.
Shi Jingtang, founder of the Later Jin Dynasty, the third of the Five Dynasties, ceded a large slice of northern China to the Khitans in return for military assistance. This territory, called The Sixteen Prefectures of Yanyun, included a part of northern Shanxi. The ceded territory became a major problem for China's defense against the Khitans for the next 100 years, because it lies to the south of the Great Wall.
During the Northern Song Dynasty (960 - 1127), the sixteen ceded prefectures continued to be an area of hot contention between Song China and the Liao Dynasty. The Southern Song Dynasty that came after abandoned all of North China to the Jurchen Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) in 1127, including Shanxi.
The Mongol Yuan Dynasty divided China into provinces but did not establish Shanxi as a province. Shanxi was formally established with its present name and approximate borders by the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). During the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911), Shanxi was extended northwards beyond the Great Wall to include parts of Inner Mongolia, including what is now the city of Hohhot, and overlapped with the jurisdiction of the Eight Banners and the Guihua Tümed banner in that area.
During most of the Republic of China's period of rule over mainland China (1912-1949), Shanxi was held by warlord Yen Hsi-shan, regardless of the frequent political upheavals that shook the rest of China. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Japan occupied much of the province after defeating China in the Battle of Taiyuan. Shanxi was also a major battlefield between the Japanese and the Chinese communist guerrillas of the Eighth Route Army during the war.
After the defeat of Japan, much of the Shanxi countryside became important bases for the communist People's Liberation Army in the ensuing Chinese Civil War. Yen had incorporated thousands of former Japanese soldiers among his own forces, and these soldiers became part of his failed defense of Taiyuan against the People's Liberation Army in early 1949.
For centuries Shanxi was a center of trade and banking, and the term "Shanxi merchant" (晋商 jìnshāng) 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. In modern times, the mining of coal is important in Shanxi's economy.
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, sunny and cold, while summer is warm and humid. Spring is bone 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.
The 11 prefecture-level divisions of Shanxi are subdivided into 119 county-level divisions (23 districts, 11 county-level cities, and 85 counties). Those are in turn divided into 1388 township-level divisions (561 towns, 634 townships, and 193 subdistricts).
The Governor of Shanxi (山西省省长) is the highest ranking official in the People's Government of Shanxi. However, in the province's dual party-government governing system, the Governor has less power than the Shanxi Communist Party of China Provincial Committee Secretary (山西省委书记), colloquially termed the "Shanxi CPC Party Chief".
Shanxi contains 260 billion metric tons of known coal deposits, about one third of China's total. As a result, Shanxi is a leading producer of coal in China, with annual production exceeding 300 million metric tonnes. The Datong (大同), Ningwu (宁武), Xishan (西山), Hedong (河东), Qinshui (沁水), and Huoxi (霍西) coalfields are some of the most important in Shanxi. Shanxi also contains about 500 million tonnes of bauxite deposits, about one third of total Chinese bauxite reserves.
Industry in Shanxi is centered around heavy industries such as coal and chemical production, power generation, and metal refining.
The mining related companies include Daqin Railway Co. Ltd., which runs one of the busiest and most technologically advanced railway in China connecting Datong and Qinhuangdao and exclusively for coal shipping. The revenue of Daqin Railway Co. Ltd. is among the highest in Shanxi Province's companies due to its exporting of coal to Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.
Shanxi's nominal GDP in 2007 was 569.62 billion yuan (US$74.9 billion), ranked eighteenth in China. Its per-capita GDP was 16,835 yuan (US$2,213).
Shanxi is infamous for bad working conditions in coal mining and other heavy industries. Thousands of workers have died every year in those industries. Cases of child labor abuse were discovered recently.
|Ethnic groups in Shanxi, 2000 census|
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 (太原头脑, literally "Taiyuan Head"). It is a soup brewed using mutton, shanyao (山药, Chinese wild yam), lotus roots, astragalus membranaceus (黄芪, 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 (晋剧 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 (中路梆子), it is a type of bangzi opera (梆子), 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 (曲子), a blanket term for more melodic styles from further south. Puzhou Opera (蒲剧 Puju), from southern Shanxi, is a more ancient type of bangzi that makes use of very wide linear intervals.
Shanxi merchants (晋商 Jinshang) 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 (票号), which were essentially small banks that provided services like money transfers and transactions, deposits, loans, and so on. After the establishment of the first piaohao in Pingyao, the bankers of Shanxi enjoyed nearly one hundred years of financial dominance across China before being eclipsed by the rise of modern, larger banks.
All of the above universities are under the authority of the provincial government. Institutions not offering full-time bachelor programs are not listed.