Sam's Exotic Travels to Historic Shanxi Province in North China
Shanxi is a province in the northern part of the People's Republic of China. Its one-character abbreviation is Jin, after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn Period. Shanxi's name literally means "west of the mountain", which refers to the province's location west of Taihang Mountains. Shanxi borders Hebei to the east, Henan to the south, Shaanxi to the west, and Inner Mongolia to the north. The capital of the province is Taiyuan.
Shanxi is located on a plateau, which is in turn made up of higher ground to the east (Taihang Mountains) and the west (Lüliang Mountains), and a series of valleys in the center through which the Fen River runs. The highest peak is Mount Wutai (Wutai Shan) in northeastern Shanxi at an altitude of 3058 m. The Great Wall of China forms most of the northern border of Shanxi with Inner Mongolia.
The Huang He (Yellow River) forms the western border of Shanxi with Shaanxi. The Fen and Qin rivers, tributaries of the Huang He, run north-to-south through the province, and drain much of its area. The north of the province is drained by tributaries of the Hai River, such as Sanggan and Hutuo rivers. The largest natural lake in Shanxi is Xiechi Lake, a salt lake near Yuncheng in southwestern Shanxi.
My family visited Shanxi Province in December, 2008, when we had a chance to visit both historical sites and some smaller towns and villages in the south, in the areas my wife's parents grew up. It was a pleasant journey. Our visits included the following:
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