Hunan became an important communications center due to its position on the Yangzi River (Changjiang). It was also on the Imperial Highway constructed between northern and southern China. The land produced grain so abundantly that it fed many parts of China with its surpluses. The population continued to climb until, by the nineteenth century, Hunan became overcrowded and prone to peasant uprisings.
The Taiping Rebellion began to the south in Guangxi Province in 1850. The rebellion spread into Hunan and then further eastward along the Yangzi River valley. Ultimately, it was a Hunanese army under Zeng Guofan who marched into Nanjing to put down the uprising in 1864. Hunan was relatively quiet until 1910 when there were uprisings against the crumbling Qing dynasty, which were followed by the Communist's Autumn Harvest Uprising of 1927. It was led by Hunanese native Mao Zedong, and established a short-lived Hunan soviet in 1927. The Communists maintained a guerilla army in the mountains along the Hunan-Jiangxi border until 1934. Under pressure from the Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT), forces they began the famous Long March to bases in Shaanxi Province. After the departure of the Communists, the KMT army fought against the Japanese in the second Sino-Japanese war. They defended the capital Changsha until it fell in 1944. Japan launched Operation Ichigo, a plan to control the railroad from Wuchang to Guangzhou (Yuehan Railway). Hunan was relatively unscathed by the civil war that followed the defeat of the Japanese in 1945. In 1949, the Communists returned once more as the Nationalists retreated southward.
As Mao Zedong's home province, Hunan supported the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976. However it was slower than most provinces in adopting the reforms implemented by Deng Xiaoping in the years that followed Mao's death in 1976.
Former Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji is also Hunanese.
Hunan is situated between 109°-114° east longitude and 20°-30° north latitude. The east, south and west sides of the province are surrounded by mountains and hills, such as the Wuling Mountains to the northwest, the Xuefeng Mountains to the west, the Nanling Mountains to the south, and the Luoxiao Mountains to the east. The mountains and hills occupy more than 80% of the area and the plain comprises less than 20% of the whole province.
The Xiangjiang, the Zijiang, the Yuanjiang and the Lishui Rivers converge on the Yangtze River at Lake Dongting (Dongting Hu, 洞庭湖) in the north of Hunan. The center and northern parts are somewhat low and a U-shaped basin, open in the north and with Lake Dongting as its center. Most of Hunan Province lies in the basins of four major tributaries of the Yangtze River.
Lake Dongting is the largest lake in the province and the second largest freshwater lake of China. Due to the reclamation of land for agriculture, Lake Dongting has been subdivided into many smaller lakes, though there is now a trend to reverse some of the reclamation, which had damaged wetland habitats surrounding the lake.
Hunan's climate is subtropical, with mild winters and plenty of precipitation. January temperatures average 3 to 8 °C while July temperatures average around 27 to 30 °C. Average annual precipitation is 1200 to 1700 mm.
The autonomous prefecture:
The fourteen prefecture-level divisions of Hunan are subdivided into 122 county-level divisions (34 districts, sixteen county-level cities, 65 counties, seven autonomous counties). Those are in turn divided into 2587 township-level divisions (1098 towns, 1158 townships, 98 ethnic townships, 225 subdistricts, and eight district public offices).
The Governor of Hunan is the highest ranking official in the People's Government of Hunan. However, in the province's dual party-government governing system, the Governor has less power than the Hunan Communist Party of China Provincial Committee Secretary, colloquially termed the "Huanan CPC Party Chief".
Hunan's culture industry generated 87 billion yuan (US$11.76 billion) in economic value in 2007, , a major contributor to the province's economic growth. The industry accounts for 7.5 percent of the region's GDP - 0.9 percentage points higher than the previous year.
In recent years, Hunan's cultural exports to the rest of China have been making a big impact. For instance, the Supergirl contest -- a Chinese version of American Idol -- was a significant and ground-breaking achievement for Chinese television. It included live broadcast, voting by mobile phones, and featured quirky and atypical characters. Another television export has been the television cartoon series Blue Cat.
The gross profit for the Supergirl contest in 2005, for example, was 17.79 million yuan (US$ 2.48 million). As a result of programs like Supergirl, Golden Eagle Broadcasting System's Hunan satellite television channel has become the most-watched regionally-produced channel in China, with over 5.6 billion viewers. According to Golden Eagle, its programming also airs in the US, Japan, and Europe.
The local government started developing its cultural industry earlier than other cities, which is the main reason why they are ahead. There is a mature entertainment chain and standardized management in Hunan`s cultural industry. A prime example of this is Golden Eagle Broadcasting System.