Hunan ▶ (Chinese: ºþÄÏ; pinyin: H¨²n¨¢n) is a province of China located in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River. Its position south of Lake Dongting provides it with its name, Hunan, which means "south of the lake." Hunan is also sometimes referred to as Xiang, after the Xiang River which runs through the province.
Hunan borders Hubei to the north, Jiangxi to the east, Guangdong to the south, Guangxi to the southwest, Guizhou to the west, and Chongqing to the northwest. The capital city of the province is Changsha.
Hunan Province is located on the south bank of the Yangtze River (Changjiang, ³¤½), about half way along its length. Shanghai lies 1000 km away, Beijing 1200 km away, and Guangzhou 500 km away.
Hunan is situated between 109¡ã-114¡ã east longitude and 20¡ã-30¡ã north latitude. The province is surrounded on its east, south and west sides by mountains and hills, with 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 province's numerous mountains and hills occupy more than 80 percent of its area and the plains comprise less than 20 percent of the total area. The center and northern parts are somewhat low and come together to form a U-shaped basin, open in the north and with Lake Dongting as its center.
Hunan has a total cultivated area of 3.92 million hectares, 18.5 percent of the province¡¯s total area. Over half of the soil in the province is red or yellow earth, and nearly 20 percent of the cultivated areas are suitable for paddy planting. The province has a complete water system, fed by the Xiangjiang, the Zijiang, the Yuanjiang and the Lishui Rivers, which have a total waterway length of 2,200 km and have nearly 5,000 tributaries. These four major rivers converge together on the Yangtze River at Lake Dongting in the north of Hunan. Lake Dongting is the largest lake in the province and the second largest fresh water lake in China, with a water area of 2,691 square km. It gathers the waters of the Xiangjiang, the Zijiang, the Yuanjiang and the Lishui Rivers from the southwest, and then flows into the Yangtze River at Chenglingji.
Due to the reclamation of land for agriculture, Lake Dongting has been subdivided into many smaller lakes, though there is now a growing 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 ¡ãC while July temperatures average around 27 to 30 ¡ãC. Average annual precipitation is 1200 to 1700 mm.
Division of Hunan Province
Hunan is a major producer of grain in China. With only 3.2 percent of the country's arable land, the province still manages to produce 6 percent of the country's total grain, making it the fifth largest producer of the 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. In addition to this, Hunan is the largest producer of rice and ramie (especially in the Lake Dongting area), the second largest producer of tea, and the third largest producer of oranges. Some of its other well known native products include: day lily, lotus seeds, fragrant mushroom, ginger, and pepper.
Animal raising plays a significant role in the lives of farmers in Hunan, especially pig raising, which generates a handsome amount of income, and has led to the province becoming a leading producer of pork. Other types of animals that are raised in Hunan include water buffaloes in Binhu, cattle in western Hunan and geese in Ugang county.
The Lengshuijiang area is noted for its stibnite mines, and is one of the major centers of antimony extraction in China. In general, Hunan is well known for its rich mineral resources. Specifically, it has the largest deposits of stibium and tungsten, and its deposits of rubidium, stone coal, manganese, arsenic, lead and zinc are also among the largest in China.
Hunan's nominal GDP for 2004 was 561.2 billion yuan (US$69.62 billion). In 2004, its per capita GDP was 8,423 yuan (US$1,040).