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Hebei

Hebei ▶ (Chinese: 河北; pinyin: Hébĕi; Wade-Giles: Ho-pei; Postal map spelling: Hopeh) is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the northeast part of the country. It borders Liaoning to the northeast, Inner Mongolia to the north, Shanxi to the west, Henan to the south, and Shandong to the southeast. It also completely surrounds Beijing and Tianjin municipalities (which border one another), and a small part of the province (an exclave disjointed from the rest of Hebei's territory) is wedged between the two municipalities.

The name Hebei means "north of the (Yellow) River." Its one-character abbreviation is "冀" (pinyin: jì), named after Ji Province (冀州 Jì Zhōu), a Han Dynasty province (zhou) that included part of what is now southern Hebei. Zhili (Traditional Chinese: 直隸; Simplified Chinese: 直隶; Hanyu Pinyin: Zhílì; Wade-Giles: Chih-li), which means "directly Ruled (by the Imperial Court)," was the name of Hebei before 1928. In addition to these historical names, another common alternate name for Hebei is Yānzhào (燕赵), after the state of Yan and state of Zhao that existed here during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Hebei's importance lies in its geographical location near Beijing, its fertile plains, abundant natural resources, and historical sites.

Geography

Saihanba National Park in Inner Mongolian plateau grassland border, north Chengde, Hebei Province

The Lingxiao Pagoda of Zhengding, Hebei Province, built in 1045 C.E. during the Song Dynasty.

Most of central and southern Hebei lies within the North China Plain. The Taihang Mountains (Taihang Shan) border the province to the west, while the Yan Mountains (Yan Shan) run through the north, creating a geographic border with the grasslands of Inner Mongolia. The Great Wall of China also cuts through northern Hebei from east to west, briefly entering the border of Beijing municipality, and terminating at the seacoast of Shanhaiguan in northeastern Hebei. The highest peak in the province is Mount Xiaowutai in northwestern Hebei, with an altitude of 2,882 m.

The Haihe watershed covers most of the province's central and southern parts, and the Luanhe watershed covers the northeast. Not counting the numerous reservoirs to be found in Hebei's hills and mountains, the largest lake in Hebei is Baiyangdian Lake, located mostly in Anxin County.

Hebei has a continental monsoon climate, with temperatures of -16 to -3 °C in January and 20 to 27 °C in July, and with annual precipitation of 400 to 800 mm, occurring mostly in summer.

Major cities:

  • Shijiazhuang
  • Baoding
  • Tangshan
  • Qinhuangdao
  • Handan
  • Zhangjiakou

Major rivers and lakes:

  • Haihe River
  • Luanhe River
  • Chaobai River
  • Yongding River
  • Ziya River
  • Yansai Lake
  • Baiyangdian Lake

Economy

Downtown Shijiazhuang

Hebei has a long history as an agricultural province, and some of its main products are cereal crops such as wheat, maize, millet, and sorghum. In addition to this, cash crops like cotton, tobacco, peanuts, soy beans and sesame are also produced.

Hebei's industrial sector has grown tremendously since the 1950s, and some of its most prominent industries include textiles, coal, steel, iron, chemical production, petroleum, ceramics and food production.

Coal, iron, and petroleum, are specifically very important to Hebei's economy. Kailuan, which is one of China's first modern coal mines (having been opened over 100 years ago), to this day remains a major source of coal for the country, with an annual production of over 20 million metric tons. As well as coal, Hebei is significant for its petroleum resources, most of which are extracted from the North China Oilfield, which is located in the province. There are also major iron mines at Handan and Qian'an.

In 2004, Hebei's GDP was 883.69 billion yuan (US$109.6 billion), an increase of 12.9 percent over the previous year and ranked 6th in the PRC. GDP per capita reached 13,017 Renminbi. Disposable income per capita in urban areas was 7951 RMB, while rural pure income per capita was 3171 RMB. The primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors of industry contributed 137.04 billion, 470.34 billion, and 276.32 billion RMB respectively. The registered unemployment rate was 4 percent.

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