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Hunan Province Travel Guide

Provincial capital: Changsha

Population: 68 millions

Geological location: Hunan, abbreviated as "Xiang", lies at 108°47' to 114°45' east longitude, and 24°39' to 30°28' north latitude; it is 667 km wide and 774 km long. As an inland province adjacent to the coastal areas, Hunan has an area of 211,800 sq km, 2.2% of the national total, ranking 11th largest in China.

Map of Hubei Province

Climate: Hunan has a humid continental and subtropical monsoon climate. It has average annual sunshine of 1,300-1,800 hours, annual average temperature is 16°C-18°C, a frost-free period of 260-310 days, and a mean annual precipitation of 1,200-1,700 mm.

Its climate has three characteristics: first, it has abundant sunshine, heat and water resources, and they reach their peak synchronously. During the period from April to October, the total radiation amount is 70-76% of the whole year, and rainfall accounts for 68-84% of the total. Second, there are distinct seasonal climate changes, with a cold winter and hot summer. The temperature always changes in spring, but always declines abruptly in the autumn. There is much rainfall in spring and summer, while drought always appears in autumn and winter. Third, areas with an abruptly changeable climate are surrounded by mountains in three directions, especially in the mountainous regions in west and south Hunan.

Tourism resources: The modern history of Hunan was recorded with consequent uprisings and rebellions. It was a major battleground for the Taiping (Heavenly Kingdom) Rebellion forces. Mao Zedong (1893-1976), the great revolutionist to found the People's Republic of China, was born into a rich peasant family in Shaoshan. A popular Hunan saying was "no government could be formed without the Hunanese, and no army could be rallied without the Hunanese".

Beyond Mao, Hunan is home to many famous communist figures, including the artist Qi Baishi, renowned for his shrimp and horse paintings, the redeemed late president Liu Shaoqi and the current Chinese Premiere Zhu Rongji.

Scenic spots in the province include the Zhangjiajie National Park, with its bizarre and mystical scenery, Hengshan, a Buddhist and Taoist holy mountain, and Changsha, with its memorials, museums and pleasant parks.

The transportation infrastructure in Hunan has been upgraded in recent years, making it now far easier to get to, and to travel within, the province. The most convenient way to get around the province's best sights is probably via the provincial capital Changsha.

By Air: Changsha Huanghua International Airport operates flights to more than 40 cities including Hong Kong. Other major domestic airports are located at Changde (flights available to Beijing, Guangzhou, Haikou and Shenzhen) and Zhangjiajie (flights available to more than 20 cities).

By Train: Beijing-Guangzhou railway runs across Hunan. The junction station is at Hengyang. Other major railways include the Zhejiang-Jiangxi railway, the Hunan-Guizhou railway and Hunan-Guangxi railway. The latter two will lead you south to cities like Liuzhou, Guilin and Nanning.

By Bus: The road network in Hunan spans over more than 60,000 miles, extending in all directions inside the province and linking it with various neighboring provinces. Major highways include the Changsha-Zhuzhou-Xiangtan, the Yueyang-Guangzhou and the Changsha-Zhangjiajie lines. There are frequent bus services that lead you to all major tourist sights.

By Boat: Transportation in Hunan also depends heavily on its convenient water transport network as four branches of the Yangtse River (Chang jiang) flow across this province. Yueyang, a city in the northeast of Hunan, serves as another important port along the Yangtse river.