Henan, Yu for short, is a province located in the Northern Central Region of China. It shares its borders with six other provinces, Shandong to the northeast, Hebei to the north, Shanxi to the northwest, Shaanxi to the west, Hubei to the south, and Anhui to the east. The eastern portion is flat and part of the North China Plain, one of the most densely populated areas on Earth. Indeed Henan is the most populous province in China, with almost 100 million people. The mountainous west and southwest is more remote with vast expanses of forest.
The Along the Yellow River (mother river of the Chinese nation) runs through Henan. The provnce’s name is from he (river) and nan (south).
Henan province is a densely populated with a hundred million people. Henan has borders with province of Shandong, Anhui Province, Shaanxi and Shanxi province.
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Introduction to Henan
Henan is the birthplace of the Chinese nation, the cradle of China’s 5000-year-long civilization and the place of origin of many Chinese family names as well.
From the Xia Dynasty (about 21st century B.C to 17th century B.C), the first dynasty in China, to the Northern Song Dynasty (around 12th century A.D), more than 200 emperors from over 20 dynasties set up their capitals in (or moved their capitals to) Henan, making it the ancient political, economic and cultural center of China.
History of the Henan province
In the year 1368, the Mongol rule in China came to an unexpected end. They were succeeded by the Ming Dynasty who ruled the Henan Territory. Their boundaries resembled the modern day map boundary of Henan province. However, unlike the modern capital Zhengzhou, the capital used to be Kaifeng. The rule of the Republic of China which lasted between 1911 and 1949 did not make any significant changes to the territorial arrangements made by the Qing Dynasty.
Geography of Henan
The western part of Henan Province is mountainous if you compare it to the east. The North China plains are formed by the eastern and central parts of Henan province. On the north western part, a small section of the Taihang mountains which enter into Henan province. The Qinling Mountains enter into Henan province on the west and occupy the area almost till the central part of the province. It is also branched into other mountains such as the Funju Mountains that moves towards north and south. Hubei Province in the south is separated from Henan by the Dabie Mountains.
The capital of Henan is Zhengzhou which is a heavily populated city. Other cities that you may can visit during your stay in the province of Henan are the cities of Luoyang, Xinxiang, Kaifeng, Anyang, Xuchang and Luohe.
Local Climate in Henan Province
During the summer month it rains a lot in Henan province. Henan has a continental climate which is pretty temperate at times. The temperature falls to 0o Celsius during January and during the month of July it averages between 27o Celsius to 28o Celsius.
Local Economy of Henan
The nominal GDP is on a steady rise of 14.4% and was 1.506 trillion RMB during the year of 2007 with a per capita GDP of 16,060RMB.
The province of Henan is very rich with natural resources such as coal, gold and as well aluminium. The major national products of Henan are meat products, cement, glass, and tires. The other industries flourishing in Henan are metallurgy, petroleum products, building materials, food products, electronics and machinery.
Henan had a total trade volume of US$12.8 billion during the year of 2007. This included US$8.4 billion revenues from export sector.
Henan has been tried for a while to develop an open economy. In the province of Henan, there are about 7,200 foreign investment companies. The province has generated about US$11 billions in investments.
Henan is also one of the leading producer for sesame and wheat in the People’s Republic of China.
Culture of Henan
The local Henan form of Chinese Opera called Yuju is very famous throughout the People’s Republic of China.
Henan has a tradition of fine Henanese cuisine. The Luoyang Shuixi made out of a number of soups and Xinyang Duncai are Kaifeng’s traditional cuisine.
Henan is also famous for it’s Art and Craft products. The Junci porcelain is well known for its irregular patterns and Zhenping is good in the jade carvings.
Henan’s famous historical and cultural cities include Zhengzhou, Kaifeng, Luoyang, Anyang, Nanyang, Shangqiu, Sanmenxia, Pingdingshan, Xinxiang and others. Traveling Henan means enjoying the beautiful landscape and the historic relics and ruins. It also means seeking the Chinese roots and rediscovering the soul of the Chinese nation.
Landmarks and buildings
- City wall of Kaifeng — surrounding the old city of Kaifeng.
- Baima Temple — in Luoyang, the first official Buddhist temple in China.
- Daxiangguo Temple — in Kaifeng, dating back to AD555.
- Baogong Memorial Temple — in Kaifeng, temple at the lake side built to honor Lord Bao.
Parks and nature
- Red-flag Canal — in Anyang, man made canal built in the 1960s due to water supply shortage in the area.
- Wulongkou Scenic Area — area outside Jiyuan consisting of five scenic spots comprising more than 60 sights.
- Yellow River Scenic Area — near Zhengzhou, consisting of five scenic spots, Five Dragons Peak, Camel Mountain Range, Yueshan Temple, Stone Figures, and the Ancient City of Liubang and Xiangyu
Museums and exhibitions
- Henan Provincial Museum — in Zhengzhou, exhibitions on ancient civilizations.
- Kaifeng Museum — exhibits on Kaifeng ancient and newer history.
- Jun Royal Kiln Museum — in Yuzhou, history of Yuzhou and surrounds, exhibits on porcelain and its cultural significance.
What to do in Henan
- Qingming Festival — enjoy the Garden Landscape at Bian River during the festival.
What to eat in Henan Province
Henan is home of Yu Cai (豫菜）which is one of the eight traditional cuisines of China.
Hú là tāng (胡辣汤). This local breakfast is a must try for those who are willing to adventure into proper Henan cuisine. Its a broth made of black pepper, anise, ginger, cinnamon, beef and bone soup. It comes with a product made of soy, and you can dip items like mantou or youtiao in it.
Huì miàn (烩面). Noodles in hot bone soup, with cilantro and wood ear (Auricularia auricula-judae).
Dàokǒu shāojī （道口烧鸡) is the competitor of Beijing duck. People here say that if a foreign dignitary comes to China, Daokou Shaoji will be present on the table.
Xiǎo Sū Ròu (小酥肉）belongs to the Yu cuisine, one the eight traditional cuisines of China. There are halal versions somewhere in Henan, using lamb, but in general it uses pork. The meat is first dipped into flour and then fried. Afterwards, it can be further cooked either in soup with lots of vegetables or plain.
Liáng Cài （凉菜）This variety is all over China, but don’t miss this while you are in Henan. It comes in dozens of varieties and is mainly cold, as the name states (liang cai literally means “cold vegetables”). Recommended are: liáng bàn dòu jiǎo （凉拌豆角 – cold green beans）, huáng guā biàn dàn （黄瓜变蛋 – cold cucumber and preserved eggs）.
Kāifēng xiǎolóngbāo （开封小笼包）Original steamed dumplings that were invented in the old Song capital of Kaifeng. After the Jin destroyed this city, the capital relocated to Hangzhou in modern day Zhejiang Province, thus taking along with them these famed steamed dumplings. Nowadays, the Hangzhou xiaolongbao even has its own chain throughout China, therefore its competitor in Kaifeng has lost its fame, but all locals will tell you that Kaifeng xiaolongbao is a must try and the predecessor of all the xiaolongbao in China.
Huì cài （烩菜）is found throughout northern Henan. It can be found in areas like Anyang, a prefecture that borders Hebei in the north. It’s basically a stew of different varieties of vegetables although the standard would be cabbage, tofu and noodles made from sweet potato.