1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chih-Li

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CHIH-LI (“Direct Rule”), the metropolitan province of China, in which is situated Peking, the capital of the empire. It contains eleven prefectural cities, and occupies an area of 58,950 sq. m. The population is 29,400,000, the vast majority of whom are resident in the plain country. This province forms part of the great delta plain of China proper, 20,000 sq. m. of which are within the provincial boundaries; the remainder of the territory consists of the mountain ranges which define its northern and western frontier. The plain of Chih-li is formed principally by detritus deposited by the Pei-ho and its tributary the Hun-ho (“muddy river”), otherwise known as the Yung-ting-ko, and other streams having their sources in mountains of Shan-si and other ranges. It is bounded E. by the Gulf of Chih-li and Shan-tung, and S. by Shan-tung and Ho-nan. The proportion of Mahommedans among the population is very large. In Peking there are said to be as many as 20,000 Mahommedan families, and in Pao-ting Fu, the capital of the province, there are about 1000 followers of the prophet. The extremes of heat and cold in Chih-li are very marked. During the months of December, January and February the rivers are frozen up, and even the Gulf of Chih-li is fringed with a broad border of ice. There are four rivers of some importance in the province: the Pei-ho, with the Hun-ho, which rises in the mountains in Mongolia and, flowing to the west of Peking, forms a junction with the Pei-ho at Tientsin; the Shang-si-ho, which rises in the mountains on the north of the province of Shan-si, and takes a south-easterly course as far as the neighbourhood of Ki Chow, from which point it trends north-east and eventually joines the Hun-ho some 15 m. above Tientsin; the Pu-to-ho, which rises in Shan-si, and after running a parallel course to Shang-si-ho on the south, empties itself in the same way into the Hun-ho; and the Lan-ho, which rises in Mongolia, enters the province on the north-east after passing to the west of Jehol, passes the city of Yung-pʽing Fu in its course (which is south-easterly) through Chih-li, and from thence winds its way to the north-eastern boundary of the Gulf of Chih-li. The province contains three lakes of considerable size. The largest is the Ta-lu-tsze Hu, which lies in 37° 40′ N. and 115° 20′ E.; the second in importance is one which is situated to the east of Pao-ting Fu; and the third is the Tu-lu-tsze Hu, which lies east by north of Shun-te Fu. Four high roads radiate from Peking, one leading to Urga by way of Süan-hwa Fu, which passes through the Great Wall at Chang-kiu Kʽow; another, which enters Mongolia through the Ku-pei Kʽow to the north-east, and after continuing that course as far as Fung-ning turns in a north-westerly direction to Dolonnor; a third striking due east by way of Tʽung-chow and Yung-pʽing Fu to Shan-hai Kwan, the point where the Great Wall terminates on the coast; and a fourth which trends in a south-westerly direction to Pao-ting Fu and on to Tʽai-yuen Fu in Shan-si. The mountain ranges to the north of the province abound with coal, notably at Chai-tang, Tʽai-gan-shan, Miao-gan-ling, and Fu-tao in the Si-shan or Western Hills. “At Chai-tang,” wrote Baron von Richthofen, “I was surprised to walk over a regular succession of coal-bearing strata, the thickness of which, estimating it step by step as I proceeded gradually from the lowest to the highest strata, exceeds 7000 ft.” The coal here is anthracite, as is also that at Tʽai-gan-shan, where are found beds of greater value than any in the neighbourhood of Peking. In Süan-hwa Fu coal is also found, but not in such quantities as in the places above named. Iron and silver also exist in small quantities in different parts of the province, and hot and warm springs are very common at the foot of the hills along the northern and western edges of the province. The principal agricultural products are wheat, kao-liang, oats, millet, maize, pulse and potatoes. Fruits and vegetables are also grown in large quantities. Of the former the chief kinds are pears, apples, plums, apricots, peaches, persimmons and melons. Tientsin is the Treaty Port of the province.