Hubei Province is located in central China; it is approximately the size of Syria. It was the center of the Chu kingdom during the Eastern Zhou dynasty (770–221 BCE); today the steel yards and iron works of the capital, Wuhan, are among the largest in China. The huge Three Gorges Dam (the world’s largest engineering project) is being built in Hubei and is scheduled for completion in 2009.

Hubei (Hu-pei, Hupeh), a central province that covers 187,400 square kilometers (about the size of Syria), borders on Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces in the west, on Henan Province in the north, on Anhui Province in the east, and on Hunan and Jiangxi provinces in the south. Hubei is traversed by the Yangzi (Chang) River from west to east, with the greater area of the province located north of the river. More than three-fourths of the province is hilly and mountainous, with peaks in the west rising more than 3,000 meters above sea level, whereas the east consists mainly of low-lying plains.

The climate is subtropical, with monsoon rain during spring and summer. Summers are hot and humid; winters generally are mild. The annual average precipitation varies between 700 and 1,700 millimeters, which is the highest average in the southeast. Most of Hubei’s population lives in rural areas along the rivers and in the lake district in the east, where the capital, Wuhan (estimated 2007 population 8.29 million), also is located.

The city of Wuhan originally was three cities separated by the Han and Yangzi rivers, but these cities were joined by bridges in the 1950s. During the Eastern Zhou dynasty (770–221 BCE) the Hubei area was the center of the Chu kingdom, and copper mines were operating near present Daye County, not far from Wuhan. With the unification of China in 221 BCE by the short-lived Qin dynasty (221–206 BCE), Hubei became part of the Chinese empire, but not until the Tang dynasty (618–907 CE) did emigration from the north accelerate, and the province became a wealthy rice-producing area. During the nineteenth century the province suffered greatly under the Taiping Rebellion (1851–1864), the largest rebellion in China’s history, during which an estimated 20 million people lost their lives. Cities along the Yangzi River were opened for trade with the Europeans, and tea became a major commodity. In the next century, the rebellion that ended the Qing dynasty (1644–1912) originated in Hubei. During the Japanese occupation of eastern China (1937–1945), parts of Hubei were controlled by Japanese troops, and industrial works were bombed.

Large areas of the province are well suited for agriculture; the major crops are rice, wheat, corn, sweet potatoes, cotton, and rapeseed. Products indigenous to Hubei include tangerines, tremella, lacquer, camphor trees, and medical herbs and tea. The iron works and steel yards of Wuhan are among the largest in China, and its industry manufactures engines, farm machines, railroad cars, and transport machinery.

In 1994 the Chinese government began work on the Three Gorges Dam, a gigantic dam on the Yangzi just west of Sandouping, located about 35 kilometers west of the river port of Yichang. It is the world’s largest engineering project, and China’s largest since the building of the Great Wall. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2009 and is expected to meet nearly 10 percent of China’s energy needs. An estimated 1.3 million people in western Hubei and the neighboring province of Sichuan, however, have been displaced by the dam, which has inundated 17 cities, 109 towns, and more than 1,500 villages.

Further Reading

Chen, A. G. (1998). Dreams of the future: Communal experiments in May Fourth China. Lund, Sweden: Department of East Asian Languages, Lund University.

Esherick, J. W. (1976). Reform and revolution in China: The 1911 Revolution in Hunan and Hubei. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Kirk, M. (Ed.). (2009). China by numbers 2009. Hong Kong: China Economic Review Publishing.

Li Xueqin. (1985). Eastern Zhou and Qin civilizations (Kwang-chih Chang, Trans.). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Stone, R. (2008). China’s environmental challenges: Three Gorges Dam: Into the unknown. Science 321: 5889, 628–632.

Source: Nielsen, Bent. (2009). Hubei Province. In Linsun Cheng, et al. (Eds.), Berkshire Encyclopedia of China, pp. 1103–1104. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing.

Hubei Province (Húb?i Sh?ng ???)|Húb?i Sh?ng ??? (Hubei Province)

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