A woman in a rice paddy. Rice makes a significant contribution to the economy of Jiangxi province, with harvests two or three times a year in some locales. PHOTO BY JOAN LEBOLD COHEN

The home of China’s largest freshwater lake and a portion of the world’s longest manmade waterway (the Grand Canal), Jiangxi is a landlocked, subtropical province in China’s southeast about the size of the state of Wisconsin. Rice is very important to the economy, with two or even three harvests a year in some locales.

The landlocked, southeastern Chinese province of Jiangxi (Chiang-hsi, Kiangsi) covers an area of 166,600 square kilometers (slightly smaller than the state of Wisconsin) and borders on the provinces of Hunan in the west, Hubei and Anhui in the north, Zhejiang and Fujian in the east, and Guangdong in the south. Hilly and mountainous areas account for three-fourths of the area, which is traversed by rivers that flow into Lake Poyang, China’s largest freshwater lake, situated in a 20,000-square-kilometer lowland area in the north of the province. While the mountains in Jiangxi rise from 1,000 to 2,000 meters, the low area in the north rarely exceeds 50 meters above sea level. The climate is subtropical, with plenty of rain, averaging 1,500 millimeters annually. This makes the province perfect for agriculture. A total of 99 percent of the population are Han Chinese. The capital, Nanchang (est. 2008 pop. 2.3 million), is situated in the northern lowlands.

Jiangxi remained sparsely populated until the Tang dynasty (618–907 CE), when it was connected to the ancient capital of Xi’an by the Grand Canal, the world’s longest manmade waterway. (In March of 2008, China applied to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for World Heritage Site status for the canal.) During the Song dynasty (960–1279), Jiangxi became a center of political and cultural eminence and the resort of famous scholars, such as Zhu Xi (1130–1200). With the fall of the Song, the intellectual milieu declined, and in the following centuries the mountainous border regions became strongholds for antigovernment rebels. During the Qing dynasty (1644–1912), Jiangxi experienced peace and unprecedented wealth. This, however, was terminated with the Taiping Rebellion (1851–1864). In the early 1930s, Jiangxi became the battleground between the Communists and Nationalists, and from 1938 to 1945, the province was occupied by Japan.

Since 1949 economic development has grown steadily. Rice is by far the most important crop; most areas have two harvests a year and some have three. Other major agricultural products are rapeseed, peanuts, and cotton; Jiangxi is also one of the most important tea producers in China, with a tea-planting history going back to the eighth century. Jiangxi also produces a large amount of pork and exports its timber and bamboo to the rest of China. Industry is concentrated in the larger cities, and products include diesel engines, trucks, tractors, and aircraft. In the northeast, the famous imperial kilns of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) still produce high-quality Jingdezhen porcelain.

Further Reading

Alley, R. (1962). Land and folk in Kiangsi: A Chinese province in 1961. Beijing: New World Press.

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

Litzinger, R. A. (2000). Other Chinas, the Yao, and the politics of national belonging. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Nanchang: The basics. (2008). Retrieved January 5, 2009 from

Sweeten, A. R. (2001). Christianity in rural China: Conflict and accommodation in Jiangxi Province, 1860–1900. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan.

UNESCO World Heritage Centre: Grand Canal. (2008). Retrieved January 5, 2009 from

Waller, D. J. (1973) The Kiangsi Soviet Republic: Mao and the national congresses of 1931 and 1934. Berkeley: Center for Chinese Studies, University of California.

Yang, Shangkui. (1981). Chen Yi and the Jiangxi-Guangdong base area. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press.

Source: Nielsen, Bent. (2009). Jiangxi Province. In Linsun Cheng, et al. (Eds.), Berkshire Encyclopedia of China, pp. 1212–1213. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing.

Jiangxi Province (Ji?ngx? Sh?ng ???)|Ji?ngx? Sh?ng ??? (Jiangxi Province)

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