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( ) is a province of Chinamarker, located to the south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze Rivermarker and south of Lake Dongtingmarker (hence the name Hunan, meaning "south of the lake"). Hunan is sometimes called (pinyin: Xiāng) for short, after the Xiang River which runs through the province.

Hunan borders Hubeimarker in the north, Jiangximarker to the east, Guangdongmarker to the south, Guangxi to the southwest, Guizhoumarker to the west, and Chongqingmarker to the northwest. The capital is Changshamarker.


Hunan's primeval forests were first occupied by the ancestors of the modern Miao, Tujia, Dong and Yao peoples. It entered the written history of Chinamarker around 350 BC, when under the kings of the Zhou dynasty, it became part of the State of Chu. At this time, and for hundreds of years thereafter, it was a magnet for migration of Han Chinese from the north, who cleared most of the forests and began farming rice in the valleys and plains. To this day many of the small villages in Hunan are named after the Han families who settled there. Migration from the north was especially prevalent during the Eastern Jin Dynasty and the Southern and Northern Dynasties Periods, when nomadic invaders pushed these peoples south.

During the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, Hunan was home to its own independent regime, Ma Chu.

Hunan and Hubeimarker became a part of the province of Huguang (湖廣) until the Qing dynastymarker.

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 Nanjingmarker to put down the uprising in 1864.

Hunan was relatively quiet until 1910 when there were uprisings against the crumbling Qingmarker 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 guerrilla army in the mountains along the Hunan-Jiangximarker border until 1934. Under pressure from the Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) forces, they began the famous Long March to bases in Shaanximarker Province. After the departure of the Communists, the KMT army fought against the Japanese in the second Sino-Japanese war. They defended the capital Changshamarker until it fell in 1944. Japan launched Operation Ichigo, a plan to control the railroad from Wuchangmarker to Guangzhoumarker (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 Province is located on the south bank of the Yangtze River (Changjiang, 长江), about half way along its length. Shanghai lies 1000 km away, Beijing 1200 km away, and Guangzhoumarker 500 km away.

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 Mountainsmarker 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 Rivermarker at Lake Dongtingmarker (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 Dongtingmarker 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.

Administrative divisions

Hunan is divided into fourteen prefecture-level divisions, of which thirteen are prefecture-level cities and the remaining division an autonomous prefecture. The prefecture-level cities are:

Map # Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Type
1 Changshamarker 长沙市 Chángshā Shì Prefecture-level city
2 Changdemarker 常德市 Chángdé Shì Prefecture-level city
3 Chenzhoumarker 郴州市 Chénzhōu Shì Prefecture-level city
4 Hengyangmarker 衡阳市 Héngyáng Shì Prefecture-level city
5 Huaihuamarker 怀化市 Huáihuà Shì Prefecture-level city
6 Loudimarker 娄底市 Lóudǐ Shì Prefecture-level city
7 Shaoyangmarker 邵阳市 Shàoyáng Shì Prefecture-level city
8 Xiangtanmarker 湘潭市 Xiāngtán Shì Prefecture-level city
9 Yiyangmarker 益阳市 Yìyáng Shì Prefecture-level city
10 Yongzhoumarker 永州市 Yǒngzhōu Shì Prefecture-level city
11 Yueyangmarker 岳阳市 Yuèyáng Shì Prefecture-level city
12 Zhangjiajiemarker 张家界市 Zhāngjiājiè Shì Prefecture-level city
13 Zhuzhoumarker 株州市 Zhūzhōu Shì Prefecture-level city
14 Xiangxi marker 湘西土家族苗族自治州 Xiāngxī Tǔjiāzú Miáozú Zìzhìzhōu Autonomous Prefecture

The fourteen prefecture-level divisions of Hunan are subdivided into 122 county-level divisions (34 district, sixteen county-level cities, 65 counties, seven autonomous counties). Those are in turn divided into 2587 township-level divisions (1098 town, 1158 township, 98 ethnic townships, 225 subdistricts, and eight district public offices).

See List of administrative divisions of Hunan for a complete list of county-level divisions.


The Politics of Hunan is structured in a dual party-government system like all other governing institutions in mainland China.

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 "Hunan CPC Party Chief".


Hunan's traditional crop is rice. The Lake Dongtingmarker area is an important center of ramie production, and Hunan is also an important center of tea cultivation.

The Lengshuijiangmarker area is noted for its stibnite mines, and is one of the major centers of antimony extraction in China.

Its nominal GDP for 2008 was 1.12 trillion yuan (US$160 billion). Its per capita GDP was 17,521 yuan (US$2,523).

Economic and Technological Development Zones

  • Changshamarker National Economic and Technical Development Zone
  • Changshamarker National New & Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone
  • Zhuzhoumarker National New & Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone


The Hunan Province is accredited with being filled with skilled craftsmen and women who create embroidered silks, carved jade and other skillfully hand made artistic goods of international quality.


As of the 2000 census, the population of Hunan is 64,400,700 consisting of forty-one ethnic groups. Its population grew 6.17% (3,742,700) from its 1990 levels. According to the census, 89.79% (57,825,400) identified themselves as Han people, 10.21% (6,575,300) as minority groups. The minority groups are Tujia, Miao, Dong, Yao, Hui, Bai, Zhuang, Uyghurs and so on.


Xiang is a subdivision of spoken Chinese that originates from Hunan.

Hunan cuisine is noted for its use of chili peppers.

Nü shu is a writing system that was used exclusively among women in Jiangyong County.

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 Pop 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 million 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.



See List of universities and colleges in Hunan


Professional sports teams in Hunan include:


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