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Take a Tour of China

China is a beautiful and fascinating country to visit. Most choose an escorted tour to enjoy the country, to learn its history, and take in the various attractions. Most people are familiar with the Great Wall of China, but there are many more things to enjoy about this great country. The many provinces provide many different opportunities for tourism and learning such as “The Forbidden City” in Guangdong, the scenic view of the Li River in Guangxi, or the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xinjiang. The following links provide simply a glimpse into the wonderful and fascinating world of China.

Anhui

The name “Anhui” was created from the names of two cities in south Anhui, Anqing and Huizhou and was formed in the seventeenth century. The northern part of the province is made of the North China Plain, and the north-central areas are watershed area. The regions are flat and populated. The other parts of the province are more uneven and somewhat hilly. The Yangtze River also runs through south Anhui as does the Huai He. The largest lake is Lake Chaohu.

Anhui is known for its products related to calligraphy and ink. The cities of Xuancheng and Huangshan City are famous for creating Xuan Paper and Hui Ink, the best-known paper and ink for Chinese calligraphy. Other famous spots in Anhui are Mount Huangsham (the World Heritage Site), Mount Juihua, and “Old Town” of Tunxi.

Bejing

Bejing is the capital of China and was the site of the 2008 World Olympics. There is record of settlement of Bejing as far back as 1000 B.C., and today Bejing boasts of many attractions in and about the city. Tiananmen Square, which is 1989 was the site of the infamous student protest, is located in Bejing, as is the Imperial Palace known as Gu Gong, found in the Forbidden City. Rain falls less than eight weeks a year in Bejing, and winters are cold and dry. The seat of the National People’s Congress, the Great Hall of the People, lies in Bejing, as does Bejing University and Tsinghua University, the most well known universities in the China. The population of Bejing is huge at nearly 17 million people in 2008, which has caused its boundaries to expand into the countryside as suburbs.

Fuijan

Fuijan is located on the southeast cost of China and was given its name during the Tang dynasty, becoming a combination of the names of two cities, Fuzhou and Jian’ou. Fuijan is unique in that two separate governments in fact, govern the province. The People’s Republic of China governs most of the province. The archipelagos of Kinmen and Matsu, which are just across the Taiwan Strait, are under control of the Republic of China, so there are actually two provinces in one. Fuijan enjoys a rich history of exiles and those on the run due to the fact that the area consists of very rugged terrain and is quite mountainous in areas as well as containing many bays and islands. Exiled prisoners were once sent to the area, and the nobility of Yue’ fled to Fuijan when their kingdom was annexed in 306 B.C. There is much diversity in culture and language also due to the terrain, because people not very far apart may have difficulty getting to and communicating with one another. Fuijan is considered one of the wealthier provinces of China, and this is partially due to its advantageous trade route with Taiwan. Their primary crop is rice, but wheat, sweet potatoes, barley, sugar cane, and rapeseed are also crops that bring cash to the region. Fuijan is also a major supplier of tea, and some of the most famous teas originate from the province including oolong, Wuyi Yancha, and Fuzhou jasmine tea. If one were prepared to take a touring holiday of the region, famous sites would include the Nanshan, Kaiyuan, Guanghua, and Yongquan temples; Gulangyu Island; and Mount Tailao.

Gansu

Gansu was known as an important communications outpost in imperial times due to the fact that the Hexi corridor runs through the province. The Hexi corridor is a natural land passage skirted by the Gobi Desert and the Qilian Mountains on which the Great Wall extended, and one can find remains of it still today. The Muslim Rebellion began in Gansu in 1862 and later spread to much of China where 12 million Chinese Muslims were killed by the Qing armies. Gansu is also along the Silk Road, an interconnected network of trade routes across the Asian continents, and is therefore economically an important province. However, it remains one of the poorest provinces in China, and 73% of the country is still rural. The province of Gansu contains within it the geographical center of China, and it is signified by the Center of the Country monument.

Guangdong

Guangdong, on the southern coast of the People’s Republic of China, is one of China’s most prosperous provinces, contributing approximately 12% of the country’s economic output. The production factories and offices of a large set of multinational and Chinese corporations are housed in Guangdong, and the city also hosts the largest Import and Export Fair in China, the Canton Fair. Guangdong is quite tropical and has short, mild winters with rare occasions of frost. The average temperate in January is 64º, and the average temperature in July is 91º, though the humidity makes it seem even hotter. Places one can visit in Guangdong include Danxia Mountain, Yuexiu Hill, Stark Lake, and the Zhongshan Sun Wen Memorial Park.

Guangxi

Guangxi is one of five of China’s minority autonomous regions, located in southern China, along the border of Vietnam. It is a mountainous region and has been known for its wild, open territory. It does boast some heavy industry that began in the 1960’s and 1970’s, but its main industry continues to be tourism. Its magnificent scenery brings people from all over the world, and its extended summer months make it a perfect place to spend a warm vacation. Important crops in Guangxi are rice, maize, sweet potatoes, wheat, sugar cane, peanuts, tobacco, and kenaf. Nearly 85% of the world’s star anise is grown in Guangxi, which is the major ingredient in the antiviral Tamiflu. One major site for tourism is Guilin, a town famous for its scenery by the Li River. Jingjiang Princes City, the old princes residence, is open to the public as well. Backpacker especially enjoy the scenery at Yangshuo, a town south of Guilin. The Longsheng rice terraces are said to be some of the steepest in the world.

Guizhou

Guizhou is a poor and undeveloped province with a small economy. Its natural industry is timber, and other industries include electricity generation, coal mining, limestone, arsenic, gypsum, and oil shale. Guizhou has many minorities within its province, which provides many opportunities for ethnic festivals such as bullfighting, horse racing, pipe playing, and comedies. Tourists enjoy the multi-cultural events. Also noteworthy to be seen are the multiple covered bridges, referred to as Wind and Rain Bridges, built by the Dong minority people.

Hainan

Hainan is the smallest province of the People’s Republic of China, and although it primarily refers to Hainan Island, 3% of its land mass, it is actually comprised of approximately 200 small islands scattered among three archipelagos off the southern coast of China. More than half of the island’s economy is agricultural made up of rubber and iron ore, and there are few factories in Hainan. Tourism also plays an active role due to the province’s tropical beaches and forests. Shrimp, scallops, and pears are raised in shallow areas off the coast for export, while Grouper, Spanish mackerel, and tuna are caught in deeper waters. Hainan is home to the People’s Liberation Army Navy, a nuclear submarine harbor. In 2007 China announced that it will build a fourth space launch, which will be built in Hainan. This is scheduled to be completed in 2012.

Hebei

Hebei, the province that completely surrounds the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin, is where Peking man was discovered, a group of Homo erectus that lived in the area approximately 200,000 to 700,000 years ago. Hebei’s main agricultural products are cereal crops such as wheat, maize, millet, and sorghum. Other cash crops include cotton, peanuts, soy bean, and sesame. Kailuan is one of the China’s first modern coal mines; it was mined over 100 years ago, and still produces over 20 million metric tons a year. Also some of the North China Oilfield is in Hebei, and there are iron mines at Handan and Qian’an. Other industries in Hebei include textiles, steel, engineering, chemical production, petroleum, and ceramics. Tourist attractions in Hebei include the east end of the Great Wall of China, known as the Shanghai Pass, or “The First Pass of the World.” Also, the Chengde Mountain resort, or Rehe Palace, is a World Heritage Site. It consists of lakes, pavilions, bridges, and temples. There are Qing Dynasty tombs at Zunhua and Yixian tombs. And the Zhaozhou Anji Bridge is the oldest stone arch bridge in China.

Heilongjiang

Heilongjiang is both the most northern and most eastern part of China. Its weather is considered subarctic in climate with long, cold winters. Its agriculture, then, is limited to crops such as soybeans, maize, wheat, beets, flax, and sunflowers, those which can be grown in conditions such as in Heilongjiang. However, Heilongjiang is also an important source of lumber, proving pine and larch from the Daxingan and Xiaoxingan mountain ranges. These mountains are also home to animals such as the Siberian tiger, the red-crowned crane, and the lynx, protected in China. Herding of horse and cattle is popular, and Heilongjiang has the highest amount of milk produced in all the provinces of China. The ice sculpture exhibitions are quite famous in Harbin. Some other notable scenery in the area is Lake Jingbo, the Wudalianchi Lakes, and the Diaoshuilou Falls.

Hubei

Hubei is known as the “Land of Fish and Rice,” with important agricultural contributions being rice, cotton, wheat, and tea. Industries include automobiles, machinery, power generation, and textiles. Hubei is known to have mines of turquoise and green faustite of fine quality as well as borax, hongshiite, garnet, iron, phosphorus, copper, gypsum, gold, and others. Hubei is made up mostly of the Jianghan Plain, which takes up most of the eastern and central regions. The remainder of the province is mostly mountainous, the ranges being the Wudang Mountains, the Jingshan Mountains, the Daba Mountains, the Wushan Mountains, the Dabie Mountains, and the Tongbai Mountains. Hubei has distinct seasons, though the summers are tropical in nature. Hubei is a forerunner is hydroelectricity, and, once completed, the Three Gorges Dam in western Hubei, will produce an annual power of 84,7000 Gwh. Other notable attractions in Hubei include Jingzhou City, Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan, and the Hubei Provincial Museum, which contains cultural exhibits as well as performs live pieces of ancient music and dance.

Henan

Henan, often called Zhongyuan, meaning “central plains,” is the most populous province of China by residency. It is located in the central part of the country. Its industrial system consists of light textiles, food, metallurgy, petrol, building materials, chemical industry, machinery, and electronics. Many products are made in Henan such as industrial cord fabrics, fridges, color glass cases, cement, and tires. And industries such as generated energy are an important part of the market as well. Three of the seven ancient capitals of China are located in Henan, and it is one of the provinces with the most historical relics in the China. Some interesting attractions include the oldest astronomical observatory in China, the Gaocheng Astronomincal Observatory; the Shaolin Temple on Mount Song; the Longmen Grottoes, near Luoyang; Youguo Temple with the Iron Pagoda; the White Horse Temple in Luoyang; the Luwang Mausoleum in XinXiang; and Guan Mountain.

Hunan

Before the nineteenth century, Hunan was an important center of communication because it was on the Yangzi River and on the Imperial Highway that was constructed between northern and southern China. Hunan produced so much grain that it was able to provide food for many parts of China with the surplus from its province. Hunan became overpopulated and peasant uprisings became more and more common. Today Hunan’s most abundant crop is still rice, but Hunan is also an important center for tea cultivation and ramie production. The Lenghuijiang area is known for its stibnite mines, and Hunan is well known for being filled with skilled craftsmen and artists who created embroidered silk scarves, carved jade, and other hand-made goods of artistic quality. Recently Hunan has also become known for its cultural exports and has impacted China with its television airings such as the television show Supergirl, which is similar to Pop Idol, and Blue Cat, a cartoon series. Some popular attractions within Hunan are the World Heritage Site Wulingyuan, and also Hong Jiang and Hengshan.

Inner Mongolia (Nei Monggu)

Inner Mongolia is the Mongol autonomous region of China, located in the north. It is the third larges subdivision in China, and its capital is Hohhot. Inner Mongolia has many resources such as coal, cashmere, natural gas, earth elements, and some naturally-occuring deposits of niobium, zirconium, and beryllium. Those who live along the river valleys generally take to farming, especially crops of wheat. In the grasslands, herding of goats and sheep is common. In the Evenk Autonomous Banner, reindeer herding is carried out. Industry consists mostly of coal, power generation, and forestry. Sites to see in Inner Mongolia would be the Dazhao Temple for its pure silver Buddha and dragon carvings and murals; the Xiaozhao and Xilithzhao temples; the Zhaojun Tomb; the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan; the Arshihaty Stone Forest; and Xiangshawan, or “singing sands gorge.” Also, one of China’s space launch pads is located in Inner Mongolia, the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

Jiangsu

Jiangsu is not only one of China’s most prosperous provinces, but is reknowned for its beauty and opulence. Poets since ancient times have used Jangsu as a setting for their poetry to add an effect of dreminess. There is a saying of two of the cities in the province “above there is heaven; below thereis Suzhou and Hangzhou.” Some of its rich popularity may be in its cultural traditions such as Kunqu, one of the most prestigious forms of Chinese opera, which originated in Kunshan, and Pingtan, storytelling with music. Also, Suzhou has been made famous for its silk, embrodiery, jasmine tea, classical gardens, and pagadoas, all things serene and beautiful. Jiangsu cuisine is considered one of the great traditions in China. This has been a problem that has affected the province since the development of economic reforms in 1978. Jinagsu is very flat, and plains cover 68% of its area. The province has a very good irrigation system, and most of the province is merely 50 meters above sea level, giving it the nickname “shu?xi?ng” or “land of water.” The southern city of Suzhou, in fact, has so many canals that it has been called the “Venice of the East.” Jiangsu’s extensive irrigation system is very advantageous for its agriculture, which is primarly rice, wheat, maize, and sorghum. Other crops include cotton, soybeans, rape, sesame, peanuts, tea, ambery hemp, bamboo, medicinal herbs, ginkbo, peppermint, and spearmint. Another important part of Jiangsu’s agriculture is the raising of silkworms. The Lake Taihu region is a major supplier of silk in China. There are many beautiful things things to see in Jiangsu such as the Purple Mountain, and Ming Dynasty wall and gates, the temples of Jiming, Hanshan, and Nanjing Confucius, and Suzhou’s classical gardens, which have been designated as a World Heritage Site. The canals, waterways, and bridges in the water-town of Zhuozhuang is a popular destination where structures have been preserved over centuries. Wuxi houses the world’s tallest statue of Buddha.

Jiangxi

The landlocked province of Jiangxi is one of the poorer provinces in China, which is sometimes blamed on the fact that it is situated by some of the more prosperous provinces in that talent and capital is said to be taken from Jiangxi to go off to the other provinces. Jiangxi is surrounded by mountains on three of its sides, and is centered on the Gan River valley that, in the past, provided the main transport route north to south in China. Jiangxi is rich is mineral resources and it has many deposits of copper, tungsten, gold, silver, uranium, thorium, tantalum, and nobium. Rice is the biggest agriculture crop with other crops being cotton and rapeseed. Jingdezhen in Jiangxi is known worldwide as the producer of the best porcelain in China. Some attractions in China include the expensive and prestigious resort area in Mount Lushan, and the Lushan National Park is a World Heritage Site. There are also two important Buddhist temples in Jiangxi, the Donglin Temple and the Tiefo Temple. Longhushan claims to be the birthplace of Taoism; therefore, that area is important for those who follow the Toaist religion. Within the remote areas of the Zhelin Reservoir, the television show Survivor filmed in 2007.

Jilin

Jilin is on the border of North Korea and Russia and has cold, long climates. Its province is rich in mineral deposits, and it has 136 different types of minerals. It also boasts of a large amount of medicinal plants and herbs, over 27,000 kinds. Jilin is also known for being rich in oil, gas, coal, nickel, talc, graphite, gypsum, gold, and silver to name a few. Its reserves of oil shale are the largest in China. Also, the Changbai Mountains are a source of lumber, and herding of sheep is an activity in the western part of the province. Jilin has long, cold winters. Places of interest in the province include the Goguryeo tombs, some of which have been listed as World Heritage Sites, and also the ancient tombs at Longtou Mountain, which includes the mausoleum of Princesses Zhenxiao.

Liaoning

Liaoning, its suffix meaning “peacefulness,” is the province with the largest economy of North Eastern China. Its fruits are known all over the country; apples from Dalian and Yingkoup; pears from Beizhen; white pears from Huludao; and apricots and plums from Gushan. Its leading industries include petrochemicals, metallurgy, electronics telecommunications, and machinery. Also of major significance are mining, quarrying, and smelting of metals and extraction of petroleum and natural gas. Liaoning is well known for its fossils, and many have been discovered from the Cretaceous period by paleontologists. For example, a fossil of the first feathered dinosaur was found in Liaoning, the first intact embryo of a pterosaur, and Sinornithosaurus millenii, or “Dave the Fuzzy Raptor.” Some sites to see while in Liaoning are the Mukden Palace, the imperial tombs, Wunu Mountain City, and stalactite caves that can be traveled through by boat in Benxi. The city of Anshan has the largest jade statue of Buddha in the world. The port city of Dalian has much appeal to tourists due to its beaches, resorts, zoos, seafood, shopping, architecture, and streetcars, which are a rarely seen in China.

Ningxia

Ningxia is situated along the borders of Shaanxi and Gansu and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. It is a relatively dry, desert region, and much irrigation is needed to grow wolfberries, a crop consumed in the region. A significant occurrence in Ningxia was the 1920 Haiyuan earthquake of 8.6 magnitude. It caused a series of landslides that ultimately killed approximately 200,000 people. One of Ningxia’s tourist attractions is the Xixia tombs, the mysterious 108 dagobas, the twin pagodas in Baisikou, and an outpost in the desert region of Shapatou. Also, in 2006 satellite images picked up a fenced-in area near the remote village of Huangyangtan, which is an exact replica of the area of Aksai Chin, which borders India, with all its mountains, valleys, lakes, and hills. The reason for this is unknown.

Qinghai

Quingha is the largest province in China other than those of the autonomous regions, which are not considered official provinces. However, it has one of the smallest economies and was only recently made a province of China. Its industry includes iron and steel productions as well as natural gas from the Chaidamu Basin. Most of its tourist attractions are in Xining, as the summer months in Xining are mild and appealing, making it a perfect summer vacation spot. Another populatr site is Qinghai Lake, the largest saltwater lake in China, on the Qinhai-Tibet plateau, which is sometimes referred to as the “Roof of the World.” An annual bicycle race takes place from Xining to Qinghai Lake.

Shandong

Shangong’s name translated into “east of the mountains,” and Shandong is, actually, east of the Taihang Mountains. It is mostly flat throughout the province, with the northwestern, western, and southwestern parts of the province all being part of the North China Plain. Shandong has one of the biggest sapphire deposits in all the world as well as a large amount of gold and diamonds. It ranks first in the production of cotton and wheat as well. The Shengli Oilfield in the Yellow River delta is a major oil field in China with a large petroleum deposit. The Boxer Rebellion began in Shandong, and became one of the centers of the uprisings. Those who follow the Taoist religion find special significance in Penglai, a town on the Shandong peninsula. Tourists enjoy the beach resort city of Quindao for its Tsingtao beer and Laoshan for its beautiful scenery. Sacred sites include the temple and cemetary of Confucius and the sacred mountain, Tai Shan.

Shanghai

Shanghai is the largest city in China and the world, home to 20 million people. Originally a fishing town, its favorable port location helped it grow in importance in the 19th century when the city was opened to trade by the 1842 Treaty of Nanking. It is still one of the world’s busiest ports, and it is said that it is the center of finance and trade in mainland China. Shanghai is very modern in every sense of the word, and,similar to many other areas of China, its skyline is growing at an astounding rate. One of Shanghai’s recent accomplishments is the completion of the first commercial Maglev railway in the world. The train goes from the Longyang Road subway station in Pudong to Pudong International Airport. The trip takes only 7 minutes and 21 seconds, and the train reaches a maximum of 267.8 mph. Previously, the first motor car was driven in Shanghai, the first train tracks were laid, and the first sewers were installed in the city. Culturally Shanghai also takes a lead and is considered the birthpalce of Chinese cinema and theater. There are several prestigious museums in Shanghai including the Shanghai Museum of art and history, the Shanghai Art Museium, the Shanghai Natural History Museum, and many smaller museums as well. Shanghai also has many downtown parks with play areas for children. Zhongshan Gongyuan in Shanghai is famous for the tallest statue in the world of the composer Frederic Chopin.

Sichuan

Sichuan is known as the “Province of Abundance” with its economical output number one in Chinca. Rice and wheat are the number one agricultural crops, and cash crops include citrus fruits, sugar cane, sweet potatos, peaches, and grapeseeds. China has the largest amount of pork in all the provinces, and it has the second largest output of silkworms. It is rich in minerals such as vanadium, titanium and lithium. One of the most important industires in the country is aerospace and military. Many of China’s rockets and satellites were launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. Other notable sties in Sichuan are the Dazu Rock Carvings, the Huanglong scenic and history interest area, and the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries.

Tibet (Xizang)

Tibet is one of the Autonomous regions in China, even though the majority of its people are of local ethnicity rather than of minorities, therefore leaving China to question its legitimacy as autonomous. There is unsettlement in the region of Tibet, due to the fact that the Central Tibetan Administration, referred to as the Tibetan Government in Exile, headed by the Dalai Lama, considers Tibet an independent country occupied illegimately and unwillfully by China. The current Dalai Lama is not actively seeking independence from China if the country is willing to accept Tibet as a genuine autonomous region. Tibet has the lowest population density in China, and this is partially due to the fact that Tibet is very mountainous, and the topography is harsh. The people of Tibet depend on agriculture for survivual, but taxi-driving and hotel work has become available somewhat since the Chinese economic reform. There are some areas in the Tibet Autonomous Region that are restricted from tourists, and tourists were not permitted in Tibet until the 1980’s. While there, the sites to visit are the Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple, Namtso Lake, and the Tashilhunpo Monastery.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong or officially, the Hong Kong Special Adminstrative Region, is very different than the remainder of China. It is largely self-governing, as it was a British territory until 1997 when it became an autonomous region of the People’s Rebpublic of China. Nonetheless, Hong Kong governs itself, maintains its own currency, legal system, immigration control, rule of the road, and other aspects of life. It does not follow the rules of mainstream China. Residents of Hong Kong follow English Common Law for its judicial system. Although Hong Kong is very urbanised, it tries very much to create a “green” environment, and of late there has been some consideration for restrictions of land use in Victoria Harbour. Pollution is a very big factor in Hong Kong, and this has become a problem that is very obvious to the people. Hong Kong is one of the world’s leading financial centers and is actually a capitalist economy rather than communist as is the rest of China. There are little natural resources in Hong Kong, and there is little land for farming; therefore, most of the money and food for the region is brought in by import and trade. Hong Kong will also particpate in import/export business. Tradition and spirtiualism is very important still in Hong Kong, and much of their business is done with this in mind. For example, concepts such as feng shui are adapted even when businesses construct huge projects. Most buildings do not have the number “4” in it. Media is also free from intereference from the government, and one of the three CNN International headquarters is stationed in Hong Kong. Of note, several Hollywood actors such as Bruce Lee, Chow Yun-Fat, and Jackie Chan are originally from Hong Kong.

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