It lies between the Tibetan and Loess plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east. The Yellow River passes through the southern part of the province.
Gansu has a population of 26 million (as of 2009) and covers an area of 425,800 square kilometres (164,400 sq mi). The capital is Lanzhou, located in the southeast part of the province.
The State of Qin originated in what is now southeastern Gansu, and went on to form the first dynasty of Imperial China. The Northern Silk Road ran through the Hexi Corridor, which passes through Gansu.
|• Chinese||甘肃省 (Gānsù Shěng)|
|• Abbreviation||GS / 甘 or 陇 (pinyin: Gān or Lǒng)|
Map showing the location of Gansu Province
|Named for||甘 gān: Ganzhou District, Zhangye
肃/肅 sù: Suzhou District, Jiuquan
(and largest city)
|Divisions||14 prefectures, 86 counties, 1344 townships|
|• Secretary||Lin Duo|
|• Governor||Tang Renjian|
|• Total||454,430 km2 (175,460 sq mi)|
|• Density||56/km2 (150/sq mi)|
|• Density rank||27th|
|• Ethnic composition||Han: 91%
|• Languages and dialects||Zhongyuan Mandarin, Lanyin Mandarin, Amdo Tibetan|
|ISO 3166 code||CN-62|
|GDP (2014)||CNY 0.7 trillion
USD 111 billion (27th)
|• per capita||CNY 26,500
USD 4,300 (30th)
|HDI (2010)||0.630 (medium) (28th)|
"Gansu" in Simplified (top) and Traditional (bottom) Chinese characters
|Literal meaning||"Gan and Su [prefectures]"|
Gansu’s name is a compound name first used during the Song dynasty of two Sui and Tang dynasty prefectures (州): Gan (around Zhangye) and Su (around Jiuquan). It’s eastern part forms part of one of the cradles of ancient Chinese civilisation.
In prehistoric times, Gansu was host to Neolithic cultures. The Dadiwan culture, from where archaeologically significant artifacts have been excavated, flourished in the eastern end of Gansu from about 6000 BC to about 3000 BC. The Majiayao culture and part of the Qijia culture took root in Gansu from 3100 BC to 2700 BC and 2400 BC to 1900 BC respectively.
The State of Qin, later to become the founding state of the Chinese empire, grew out from the southeastern part of Gansu, specifically the Tianshui area. The Qin name is believed to have originated, in part, from the area. Qin tombs and artifacts have been excavated from Fangmatan near Tianshui, including one 2200-year-old map of Guixian County.
In imperial times, Gansu was an important strategic outpost and communications link for the Chinese empire, as the Hexi Corridor runs along the "neck" of the province. The Han dynasty extended the Great Wall across this corridor, building the strategic Yumenguan (Jade Gate Pass, near Dunhuang) and Yangguan fort towns along it. Remains of the wall and the towns can be found there. The Ming dynasty built the Jiayuguan outpost in Gansu. To the west of Yumenguan and the Qilian Mountains, at the northwestern end of the province, the Yuezhi, Wusun, and other nomadic tribes dwelt (Shiji 123), occasionally figuring in regional imperial Chinese geopolitics.
Along the Silk Road, Gansu was an economically important province, as well as a cultural transmission path. Temples and Buddhist grottoes such as those at Mogao Caves ('Caves of the Thousand Buddhas') and Maijishan Caves contain artistically and historically revealing murals. An early form of paper inscribed with Chinese characters and dating to about 8 BC was discovered at the site of a Western Han garrison near the Yumen pass in August 2006.
The province was also the origin of the Dungan Revolt of 1862-77. Among the Qing forces were Muslim generals, including Ma Zhan'ao and Ma Anliang, who helped the Qing crush the rebel Muslims. The revolt had spread into Gansu from neighbouring Qinghai.
There was another Dungan revolt from 1895 to 1896.
As a result of frequent earthquakes, droughts and famines, the economic progress of Gansu was significantly slower than that of other provinces of China until recently. Based on the area's abundant mineral resources it has begun developing into a vital industrial center. An earthquake in Gansu at 8.6 on the Richter scale killed around 180,000 people mostly in the present-day area of Ningxia in 1920, and another with a magnitude of 7.6 killed 275 in 1932.
While the Muslim General Ma Hongbin was acting chairman of the province, Muslim General Ma Buqing was the real person who was in virtual control of Gansu in 1940. Liangzhou District in Wuwei was previously his headquarters in Gansu, where he controlled 15 million Muslims. Xinjiang came under Kuomintang (Nationalist) control after their soldiers entered via Gansu. Gansu's Tienshui was the site of a Japanese-Chinese warplane fight.
Gansu was vulnerable to Soviet penetration via Xinjiang. Gansu was a passageway for Soviet supplies during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Lanzhou was a destination point via a road coming from Dihua (Ürümqi). Lanzhou and Lhasa were designated to be recipients of a new railway.
The Kuomintang Islamic insurgency in China (1950–1958) was a prolongation of the Chinese Civil War in several provinces including Gansu.
Gansu has an area of 454,000 square kilometres (175,000 sq mi), and the vast majority of its land is more than 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above sea level. It lies between the Tibetan Plateau and the Loess Plateau, bordering Mongolia (Govi-Altai Province) to the northwest, Inner Mongolia and Ningxia to the north, Shaanxi to the east, Sichuan to the south, and Xinjiang to the west. The Yellow River passes through the southern part of the province. The province contains the geographical centre of China, marked by the Center of the Country Monument at .
The landscape in Gansu is very mountainous in the south and flat in the north. The mountains in the south are part of the Qilian Mountains, while the far western Altyn-Tagh contains the province’s highest point, at 5,830 metres (19,130 ft).
A natural land passage known as Hexi Corridor, stretching some 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) from Lanzhou to the Jade Gate, is situated within the province. It is bound from north by the Gobi Desert and Qilian Mountains from the south.
Gansu generally has a semi-arid to arid continental climate (Köppen BSk or BWk) with warm to hot summers and cold to very cold winters, although diurnal temperature ranges are often so large that maxima remain above 0 °C (32 °F) even in winter. However, due to extreme altitude, some areas of Gansu exhibit a subarctic climate (Dwc) – with winter temperatures sometimes dropping to −40 °C (−40 °F). Most of the limited precipitation is delivered in the summer months: winters are so dry that snow cover is confined to very high altitudes and the snow line can be as high as 5,500 metres (18,040 ft) in the southwest.
|Administrative divisions of Gansu|
|№||Division code||English name||Chinese||Pinyin||Area in km2||Population 2010||Seat||Divisions|
|Districts||Counties||Aut. counties||CL cities|
|7||620100||Lanzhou||兰州市||Lánzhōu Shì||13,103.04||3,616,163||Chengguan District||5||3|
|2||620200||Jiayuguan *||嘉峪关市||Jiāyùguān Shì||2,935.00||231,853||Shengli Subdistrict|
|4||620300||Jinchang||金昌市||Jīnchāng Shì||7,568.84||464,050||Jinchuan District||1||1|
|6||620400||Baiyin||白银市||Báiyín Shì||20,164.09||1,708,751||Baiyin District||2||3|
|12||620500||Tianshui||天水市||Tiānshuǐ Shì||14,312.13||3,262,548||Qinzhou District||2||4||1|
|5||620600||Wuwei||武威市||Wǔwēi Shì||32,516.91||1,815,054||Liangzhou District||1||2||1|
|3||620700||Zhangye||张掖市||Zhāngyè Shì||39,436.54||1,199,515||Ganzhou District||1||4||1|
|13||620800||Pingliang||平凉市||Píngliáng Shì||11,196.71||2,068,033||Kongtong District||1||6|
|1||620900||Jiuquan||酒泉市||Jiǔquán Shì||193,973.78||1,095,947||Suzhou District||1||2||2||2|
|14||621000||Qingyang||庆阳市||Qìngyáng Shì||27,219.71||2,211,191||Xifeng District||1||7|
|10||621100||Dingxi||定西市||Dìngxī Shì||19,646.14||2,698,622||Anding District||1||6|
|11||621200||Longnan||陇南市||Lǒngnán Shì||27,856.69||2,567,718||Wudu District||1||8|
|临夏回族自治州||Línxià Huizù Zìzhìzhōu||8,116.57||1,946,677||Linxia||5||2||1|
|甘南藏族自治州||Gānnán Zàngzú Zìzhìzhōu||38,311.56||689,132||Hezuo||7||1|
|* - direct-piped cities - does not contain any county-level divisions|
Governors of Gansu: The Governorship of Gansu is the second highest-ranking official within Gansu, behind the Secretary of the CPC Gansu Committee. The governor is responsible for all issues related to economics, personnel, political initiatives, the environment and the foreign affairs of the province. The Governor is appointed by the Gansu Provincial People's Congress, which is the province's legislative body.
Agricultural production includes cotton, linseed oil, maize, melons (such as the honeydew melon, known locally as the Bailan melon or "Wallace" due to its introduction by US vice president Henry A. Wallace), millet, and wheat. Gansu is known as a source for wild medicinal herbs which are used in Chinese medicine. However, pollution by heavy metals, such as cadmium in irrigation water, has resulted in poisoning of many acres of agricultural land. The extent and nature of the heavy metal pollution is considered a state secret.
However, most of Gansu's economy is based on mining and the extraction of minerals, especially rare earth elements. The province has significant deposits of antimony, chromium, coal, cobalt, copper, fluorite, gypsum, iridium, iron, lead, limestone, mercury, mirabilite, nickel, crude oil, platinum, troilite, tungsten, and zinc among others. The oil fields at Yumen and Changqing are considered significant.
Gansu has China's largest nickel deposits accounting for over 90% of China's total nickel reserves.
According to some sources, the province is also a center of China's nuclear industry.
Despite recent growth in Gansu and the booming economy in the rest of China, Gansu is still considered to be one of the poorest provinces in China. Its nominal GDP for 2011 was about 502.0 billion yuan (79.69 billion USD) and per capita of 12,836 RMB (1,879 USD). Tourism has been a bright spot in contributing to Gansu's overall economy. As mentioned below, Gansu offers a wide variety of choices for national and international tourists.
As stipulated in the country's 12th Five Year Plan, the local government of Gansu hopes to grow the provinces GDP by 10% annually by focusing investments on five pillar industries: renewable energy, coal, chemicals, nonferrous metals, pharmaceuticals and services.
The following economic and technological zones are situated in Gansu:
Gansu province is home to 30,711,287 people. Most of the population, 73%, is rural. Gansu is 92% Han and also has Hui, Tibetan, Dongxiang, Tu, Yugur, Bonan, Mongolian, Salar, and Kazakh minorities. Prior to the Panthay Rebellion and the Dungan Revolt, Gansu province had a large community of Chinese Hui Muslims, which was almost decimated by Qing authorities. Gansu is also a historical home, along with Shaanxi, of the dialect of the Dungans, who migrated to Central Asia. The southwestern corner of Gansu is home to a large ethnic Tibetan population.
Most of the inhabitants of Gansu speak dialects of Northern Mandarin Chinese. On the border areas of Gansu one might encounter Tu, Amdo Tibetan, Mongolian, and the Kazakh language. Most of the minorities also speak Chinese.
The cuisine of Gansu is based on the staple crops grown there: wheat, barley, millet, beans, and sweet potatoes. Within China, Gansu is known for its lamian (pulled noodles), and Muslim restaurants which feature authentic Gansu cuisine.
According to a 2012 survey only around 12% of the population of Gansu belongs to organised religions, the largest groups being Buddhists with 8.2%, followed by Muslims with 3.4%, Protestants with 0.4% and Catholic with 0.1% (in total, as of 2012 Christians comprise 0.5% of the population, decreasing from 1.02% in 2004) Around 88% of the population may be either irreligious or involved in worship of nature deities, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, folk religious sects.
Muslim restaurants are known as "qingzhen restaurants" ("pure truth restaurants"), and feature typical Chinese dishes, but without any pork products, and instead an emphasis on lamb and mutton. Gansu has many works of Buddhist art, including the Maijishan Grottoes. Dunhuang was a major centre of Buddhism in the Middle Ages.
Jiayuguan Pass, in Jiayuguan city, is the largest and most intact pass, or entrance, of the Great Wall. Jiayuguan Pass was built in the early Ming dynasty, somewhere around the year 1372. It was built near an oasis that was then on the extreme western edge of China. Jiayuguan Pass was the first pass on the west end of the great wall so it earned the name “The First And Greatest Pass Under Heaven.”
An extra brick is said to rest on a ledge over one of the gates. One legend holds that the official in charge asked the designer to calculate how many bricks would be used. The designer gave him the number and when the project was finished, only one brick was left. It was put on the top of the pass as a symbol of commemoration. Another account holds that the building project was assigned to a military manager and an architect. The architect presented the manager with a requisition for the total number of bricks that he would need. When the manager found out that the architect had not asked for any extra bricks, he demanded that the architect make some provision for unforeseen circumstances. The architect, taking this as an insult to his planning ability, added a single extra brick to the request. When the gate was finished, the single extra brick was, in fact, extra and was left on the ledge over the gate.
The Mogao Grottoes near Dunhuang have a collection of Buddhist art. Originally there were a thousand grottoes, but now only 492 cave temples remain. Each temple has a large statue of a buddha or bodhisattva and paintings of religious scenes. In 336 AD, a monk named Le Zun (Lo-tsun) came near Echoing Sand Mountain, when he had a vision. He started to carve the first grotto. During the Five Dynasties period they ran out of room on the cliff and could not build any more grottoes.
The historic Silk Road starts in Chang'an and goes to Constantinople. On the way merchants would go to Dunhuang in Gansu. In Dunhuang they would get fresh camels, food and guards for the journey around the dangerous Taklamakan Desert. Before departing Dunhuang they would pray to the Mogao Grottoes for a safe journey, if they came back alive they would thank the gods at the grottoes. Across the desert they would form a train of camels to protect themselves from thieving bandits. The next stop, Kashi (Kashgar), was a welcome sight to the merchants. At Kashi most would trade and go back and the ones who stayed would eat fruit and trade their Bactrian camels for single humped ones. After Kashi they would keep going until they reached their next destination.
Located about 5 km (3.1 mi) southwest of the city, the Crescent Lake or Yueyaquan is an oasis and popular spot for tourists seeking respite from the heat of the desert. Activities includes camel and 4x4 rides.
Bingling Temple, or Bingling Grottoes, is a Buddhist cave complex in a canyon along the Yellow River. Begun in 420 AD during the Western Jin Dynasty, the site contains dozens of caves and caverns filled with outstanding examples of carvings, sculpture, and frescoes. The great Maitreya Buddha is more than 27 meters tall and is similar in style to the great Buddhas that once lined the cliffs of Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Access to the site is by boat from Yongjing in the summer or fall. There is no other access point.
Labrang Tashikyil Monastery is located in Xiahe County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, located in the southern part of Gansu, and part of the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo. It is one of the six major monasteries of the Gelukpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet, and the most important one in Amdo. Built in 1710, it is headed by the Jamyang-zhaypa. It has 6 dratsang (colleges), and houses over sixty thousand religious texts and other works of literature as well as other cultural artifacts.
Three thousand deposits of 145 different minerals. Ninety-four minerals have been found and ascertained, including nickel, cobalt, platinum, selenium, casting clay, finishing serpentine, and five other minerals whose reserves are the largest in China. Gansu has advantages in getting nickel, zinc, cobalt, platinum, iridium, copper, barite, and baudisserite.
Among Gansu’s most important sources of energy are its water resources: the Yellow River and other inland river drainage basins. Gansu is placed ninth among China’s provinces in annual hydropower potential and water discharge. Gansu produces 17.24 gigawatts of hydropower a year. Twenty-nine hydropower stations have been constructed in Gansu, each capable of generating 30 gigawatts. Gansu has an estimated coal reserve of 8.92 billion tons and petroleum reserve of 700 million tons.
There is also good potential for wind and solar power development. The Gansu Wind Farm project – already producing 7.965GW in 2015 – is expected to achieve 20GW by 2020, at which time it will likely become the world's biggest collective windfarm.
In November 2017 an agreement between the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Gansu government was announced, to site and begin operations of a molten salt reactor pilot project in the province by 2020.
Gansu has 659 species of wild animals. It has twenty-four rare animals which are under a state protection.
Among zoologists who study moles, the Gansu mole is of great interest. For a reason that can only be speculated, it is taxologically a New World mole living among Old Word moles; that is to say an American mole living in a sea of Euro-Asians.
On 16 December 1920, Gansu witnessed the deadliest landslide ever recorded. A series of landslides, triggered by a single earthquake, accounted for most of the 180,000 people killed in the event.
The Asian Development Bank is working with the State Forestry Administration of China on the Silk Road Ecosystem Restoration project, designed to prevent degradation and desertification in Gansu. It is estimated to cost up to US$150 million.
In August 1949, the provincial government overprinted the nondenominated stamps "locomotive" and "airmail arrow" stamps issued by the central government. These overprints were made by handstamping in purple, and are quite rare, valued at over US$500 each. Counterfeits are known, and it has been asked that apparent examples be expertized.