|Name||湖北 (hú běi) ['lake' 'north'] Old Name Hupeh WG|
|Population||58.075 million (4.22 %) [9th] comparison table|
|Area||186,000 km2 [71,815 mile2] (1.94 %) [14th]|
|GDP||47,124 (10.94 %) [15th]|
Hubei is a central Chinese Province; rather like neighboring Henan it marks the transition from mountains in the West to low fertile coastal plain in the East. The name Hubei is derived from its location north of Dongting Lake. It is dominated by the Yangzi River (or Chang Jiang) that forms many low lying lakes and reservoirs (the largest number in China) as well as the world famous Three Gorges ➚ (now harnessed by the huge Sanxia Daba dam ➚). Qutang, Wuxia and Xiling are the names of the gorges that are spread out over 120 miles [193 kms] in order west to east (but the first two are in neighboring Chongqing Province). Many of the sites along the river have been drowned by the rise in water level associated with the Three Gorges dam. The ancient 'hanging coffins' of the Bo people ➚ can still be seen. Su Shi, the Song poet wrote eloquently about the gorges. Wuxia gorge is marked by towering mountains on either side of the river making it seem a chasm. The gorges took a heavy toll in people and boats over the centuries; so it is good that this great hazard has now been removed.
Wuhan is the largest city in Hubei, it was formed in 1926 by combining three neighboring cities Hankou, Wuchang and Hanyang together. Hankou became a major river port on the Yangzi when, after the first Opium War, trade opened to foreign powers (British; French; German; Russian and Japanese). Some buildings can still be seen in the center of the city show the foreign influence. Large ocean going ships can sail up river as far as Wuhan and so the city was key to opening up trade into central China. Wuhan stands at the confluence with another significant Chinese river the 'Han' 汉水 hàn shuǐ. The Wuhan area suffered severe damage in the last century, in 1911 with the fall of the Qing and later in 1923 and then 1937 with the Japanese occupation. Since then it has become heavily industrialized. The Wuchang Uprising of 1911 led by Sun Yatsen marked the start of the revolution that created the Republic of China and it is commemorated at Wuchang. The Changjiang Daqiao ➚ was the first bridge over the lower Yangzi built 1955-57 and opened up the area to trade considerably. The provincial museum at Wuhan is one of the best in China with many exhibits from the Warring States and Three Kingdoms periods. Wuhan's Fengdu Ghost City ➚ is a more unusual tourist attraction.
Donghu (East Lake) is an attractive park east of the center of Wuhan while near the bridge is the Huanghelou ➚ Yellow Crane Tower dating back over 1,700 years; the present building has recently been rebuilt on the original site. The Buddhist Guiyuansi 'Temple of Original Purity ➚' has a collection of thousands of ancient sacred texts. Much of Wuhan city is however modern; ferries run upstream on the Yangzi via the ancient city of Yichang through the gorges to Chongqing. Shengnongjia ➚ is a noted National Forest in the mountainous north-west. The Wudang ➚ mountains are famous for temples scattered among the mountains and the Wudangquan ➚/Taijiquan (Taichi) martial art tradition.
Hubei has hot, humid summers and cool, dry winters. Wuhan is one of the ‘three furnaces’ of China in summer with temperatures over 104 ° F [40 ° C] combined with high humidity. Agriculturally it marks the lies on the dividing line of wheat growing in the north to rice growing in the south but it also grows a great many other crops including bamboo; Yichang black tea; Enshi green tea and sesame seeds. Industry is centered on the Wuhan area. The province produces some oil to add to China's sources of energy.
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