HunanTravel Guide - Brief Information on Hunan

Hunan Province in Chinese Pinyin:  hú nán
Hunan Province in Chinese Writing:    

Hunan Province in Chinese Pronunciation:     Click the button to learn how to say Hunan Mandarin Chinese. Or you can download it to your hand device to play it to a conductor when buying a train ticket to Hunan.

Hunan Province Overview:  
Hunan is located in the south of China, at the middle reaches of Yangtse River. Its capital city is Changsha. Hunan got its name owing to its location with Dongting Lake; it is at the south of Dongting Lake, hence its name “Hunan”. The province is also called Xiang for short as Xiang River runs through the whole Province. The province is rich in rice and fish, which gained a name of “Hometown of Fish and Rice”.   Hunan borders Hubei in the north, Jiangxi to the east, Guangdong to the south, Guangxi to the southwest, Guizhou to the west, and Chongqing to the northwest. The whole province covers an area of 210,000 square meters.

There are fourteen prefecture-level cities in Hunan Province. The fourteen cities are subdivided into 122 county-level divisions (34 districts, sixteen county-level cities, 65 counties, seven autonomous counties). Among the cities in Hunan, Changsha, Zhuzhou, Xiangtan, Yueyang, Hengyang and Changde are industrial developed cities, which are all situated at the Northeast of Hunan province.

It has a population of 68452,000 (at the end of 2008) with people of Han, Tujia, Miao, Dong, Yao, Bai, Hui, Zhuang, Weiwuer, Menggu, Man. Most of the minorities are living at the mountain area of South, West, and east of Hunan. 

Hunan is situated between 109°-114° east longitude and 20°-30° north latitude. It is surrounded by mountains and hills at east, south, and west sides. The mountains and hills occupy more than 80% of the area and the plain comprises less than 20% of the whole province.  The largest plain of the province is Dongting Lake Plain. The Xiangjiang, the Zijiang, the Yuanjiang and the Lishui Rivers is the four largest river within the province.

Map of Hunan Province:  Here is a rough map of Hunanshowing where Hengyang is located on the map of China.


Hunan Province Climate & Weather:  Hunan enjoys a climate of humid, subtropical climate with mild winters and plenty of precipitation. The rain falls mostly during May to July, and its annual precipitation is 1350mm to 1450mm. The coldest month is in January with a average temperature of 4℃ -7℃, and July as the hottest month with an average temperature of 27 to 30 °C. The annual average temperature is between 16℃-18℃. The annual average sunlight hours is 1300-1800 hours, with Dongting Lake enjoys the longest sunlight hours. The best time to visit is in the autumn, when temperatures are cooler and the rainfall lighter.

Language in Hunan Province: Hunan is a place with kinds of dialects. There are Xiang dialect, Southwest dialect, Gan dialect, Kejia dialect, and other languages that are not confirmed so far. In the area where minority lives, many people could not only speak language of their own race but also the dialect of Han. 

Hunan Province Transportation: Hunan Province is located on the south bank of the Yangtze River, about half way along its length. Shanghai lies 1000 kilometers away at its east, Beijing 1200 kilometers away at its north and Guangzhou 500 kilometers away at its south.

By Air:  Changsha is the air transportation of Hunan province. There are many flights to the major cities home and abroad everyday at Changsha Huanghua International airport. There are also another four airports in Hunan, they are Zhangjiajie Hehua airport, Changde Taoyuan airport, Yongzhou Lingling airport and Huaihua Zhijiang airport.

By Train:  The railway is very developed in Hunan, there are six major railway routs runs through the whole province. Basically, there are trains to each of the major tourism cities of Hunan.

By Bus:  Highway is also well developed in Hunan, nor the mileage of highway in Hunan province has reached more than 60,000 kilometers, with state ways of 106, 107,207, 209,319,  320, 322 pass through the province. Public buses are available between the tourism cities and its attractions.

Water Transportation:  Within the province, ships reach cities along Xiang River,  Zi River, Yuan River and Lishui River. Cities like Changsha, Hengyang, Zhuzhou, Xiangtan, Shaoyang, Huaihua, Changde, Yueyang are not only
the road transportation hubs, but also the important waterway transfer station.

Hunan Province Food:  Hunan cuisine is one of the eight regional cuisines of China, which is also called Xiang cuisine.Hunan cuisine is famous for its chili and spicy flavor. Hunan food is characterized by its hot and sour flavor, fresh aroma, greasiness, deep color, and the prominence of the main flavor in each dish. The flavor of Hunan is similar to that of Sichuan Province, which is located in the western China. Chili, garlic and the unusual so-called "strange sauce" enliven many dishes. Chairman Mao, who was Hunanese, once claimed that the more chilies one eats the more revolutionary one becomes. It was meant as a joke (most probably) but the statement is in accordance to the Chinese belief that diet makes a great difference to the well being of a person.

Hunan contains rivers, lakes, mountains, rolling hills, plains, and pools, which provide abundant food, such as fish, shrimp, crab and turtle. To make full use of these rich resources, local people created a wide variety of delicacies. Hunan cuisine consists of more than 4,000 dishes, among which more than 300 are very famous. It consists of regional cuisines from the Xiang River Valley, the Dongting Lake region, and the western mountainous area.

Representative dishes are Xiaoxiang Turtle, Wuling snake in its own soup, mashed shrimp in lotus pod, Dongting wild duck, jade – belt fish roll, and fish fillet in velvet, deep – fried loach (a fish similar to a carp), hot and spicy frog legs, Dongan chicken, stinking tofu, chili smoked meat and cold rice noodles in a hot and spicy sauce.

Major Hunan Province Tourism Resources:  Hunan is a place with both rich natural resources and cultural relics.

Tourist Attractions:  
Dongting Lake is the largest in the province and the second largest freshwater lake in China. The lake isusually covered in the mist in the early morning, which is very beautiful. The lake is located near Yueyang city,  where Yueyang Pavilion, one of the most famous towers in China located. Yueyang Pavilion was first built in Tang Dynasty, and the present one is built in the style of Song Dynasty.  

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is the first national forest park of China, which is built in 1982. The park is located in a particular scenic area in northwest Hunan Province. It is famous for its quartz-sandstone rock formations, bare stone sculpted by nature and set among green trees and frequent clouds.

Mt. Hengshan, one of the five most famous mountains in China, is located in Hengyang City. The mountain is famous for its precarious cliffs. It is a holy mountain both for Buddhist and Taoists. Regions along Yuanjiang River are famous for its serene beauty. Taoyuanming a famous writer in Jin Dynasty described this place as an isolated Utopia-like paradise, and named this place the Peach Blossom Fountainhead.

Fenghuang Anciet town, which is located at the Autonomous Region of west Hunan, is an old town with very unique flavor.
Changsha is one of China’s famous cultural center, which is the capital of Hunan province. It offers tourist many historical sites like Yuelu Academy, Han Dynasty Tombs at Mawangdui, Nanyue Temple etc.

Xiang embroidery, one of four famous embroideries in China, has a 200 years history. It is the most famous local specialty.

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