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Hubei

Hubei ▶ (Chinese: ; pinyin: Hbi; Wade-Giles: Hu-pei; Postal map spelling: Hupeh) is a central province of the People's Republic of China. Its abbreviation is (pinyin: È), an ancient name associated with the eastern part of the province since the Qin Dynasty. It is located at the mid-stream point of the Yangtze River, and its name Hubei means "north of the lake," which refers to Hubei's position north of Dongting Lake. The capital city of Hubei is Wuhan. Hubei borders Henan to the north, Anhui to the east, Jiangxi to the southeast, Hunan to the south, Chongqing to the west, and Shaanxi to the northwest. The high-profile Three Gorges Dam is located in Yichang in western Hubei, as is the Three Gorges University. A popular unofficial name for Hubei is Chu (Chinese: ; pinyin: Ch), after the powerful state of Chu that existed here during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty.

Hubei has served as an important cultural, economic, and political region for China since ancient times until the present. Located mid-way along the Yangtze River, the river along which China's ancient civilizations appeared, Hubei has been a strategic province sought by every new dynasty. In 1911, Hubei played a key role in over throwing the last dynasty, Quig and establishing the Republic of China. During the Communist Revolution, Hubei again played a leading role. With the Three Gorges Dam project under construction, the Hubei region once again is thrust into the center of China's development.

Geography

Quichun countryside
Quichun countryside

The Jianghan Plain takes up most of central and eastern Hubei, while the west and the peripheries are more mountainous, with ranges such as the Wudang Mountains, the Jingshan Mountains, the Daba Mountains, and the Wushan Mountains (roughly in north-to-south order). The Dabie Mountains lie to the northeast, on the border with Henan and Anhui; the Tongbai Mountains lie to the north on the border with Henan; to the southeast the Mufu Mountains form the border with Jiangxi. The eastern half of the Three Gorges (Xiling Gorge and part of Wu Gorge) lies in western Hubei; the other half is in neighboring Chongqing. The highest peak in Hubei is Shennong Peak, found in the Daba Mountains and in the forested area of Shennongjia; it has an altitude of 3105 m.

The Yangtze River enters Hubei from the west via the Three Gorges, and the Hanshui enters from the northwest. These two rivers meet at Wuhan, the provincial capital. Thousands of lakes dot the landscape, giving Hubei the name "Province of Lakes." The largest of these lakes are Lake Liangzi and Lake Honghu. The Danjiangkou Reservoir lies on the border between Hubei and Henan.

Hubei has a subtropical climate with distinct seasons. Hubei has average temperatures of 1 - 6 C in winter and of 24 - 30 C in summer; punishing temperatures of 40 C or above are famously associated with Wuhan, the provincial capital, which is one of the hottest places in all of China.

Economy

Hubei is often called the "Land of Fish and Rice." It is very rich in natural resources, and it ranks as one of the highest provinces in land, water, biotic, mineral and energy resources in all of China. Water resources rank as China's fourth largest and the volume of surface water ranks tenth. As far as crop planting is concerned, Hubei ranks among the best in China. The outputs of grain production, cash and other crops occupy very important positions nationwide, and the province is a strong producer of rice, cotton, wheat, maize, and edible oil. Hubei is also well known for its cash crops such as tea, natural silk, tobacco and fruit. Besides agriculture, Hubei's industries include: automobiles, metallurgy, machinery, power generation, textiles, foodstuffs, and high-tech commodities.

Hubei is incredibly rich in mineral resources. Out of the over 110 kinds of minerals found in the province, some of the most important include borax, hongshiite, wollastonite, garnet, marlstone, iron, phosphorus, copper, gypsum, rutile, rock salt, gold amalgam, manganese, and vanadium. The province's recoverable reserves of coal stand at 548 million tons, which is modest compared to other Chinese provinces.

Once it is completed, the Three Gorges Dam in western Hubei will provide plentiful hydroelectricity, with an estimated annual power production of 84,700 Gwh. Existing hydroelectric stations include Gezhouba, Danjiangkou, Geheyan, Hanjiang, Duhe, Huanglongtan, Bailianhe, Lushui, and Fushui. The dam is expected to become fully operational in 2009.

Hubei's economy ranks tenth in the country and its nominal GDP for 2004 was 631.0 billion yuan (US $78.28 billion) and a per capita of 9,000 RMB (US $1,087).

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