1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hu-nan

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HU-NAN, a central province of China, bounded N. by Hu-peh, E. by Kiang-si, S. by Kwang-si and Kwang-tung, and W. by Kwei-chow and Szech’uen. It occupies an area of 84,000 sq. m., and its population is estimated at 22,000,000. The provincial capital is Chang-sha Fu, in addition to which it has eight prefectural cities. It is essentially a province of hills, the only considerable plain being that around the Tung-t’ing lake, but this extends little beyond the area which in summer forms part of the lake. To the north of Heng-chow Fu detached groups of higher mountains than are found in the southern portion of the province are met with. Among these is the Heng-shan, one of the Wu-yo or five sacred mountains of China, upon which the celebrated tablet of Yu was placed. The principal rivers of the province are: (1) The Siang-kiang, which takes its rise in the Nan-shan, and empties into the Tung-t’ing lake; it is navigable for a great distance from its mouth, and the area of its basin is 39,000 sq. m.; (2) the Tsze-kiang, the basin of which covers an area of 10,000 sq. m., and which is full of rapids and navigable only for the smallest boats; (3) the Yuen-kiang, a large river, which has some of its head-waters in the province of Kwei-chow, and empties into the Tung-t’ing lake in the neighbourhood of Chang-tê Fu; its basin has an area of 35,000 sq. m., 22,500 of which are in the province of Hu-nan and 12,500 in that of Kwei-chow; its navigation is dangerous, and only small boats are able to pass beyond Hang-kia, a mart about 180 m. above Chang-tê Fu; and (4) the Ling-kiang, which flows from the tea district of Ho-fêng Chow to the Tung-t’ing lake. Its basin covers an area of about 8000 sq. m., and it is navigable only in its lowest portion. The principal places of commerce are: (1) Siang-t’an, on the Siang-kiang, said to contain 1,000,000 inhabitants, and to extend 3 m. long by nearly 2 m. deep; (2) Chang-sha Fu, the provincial capital which stands on the same river 60 m. above the treaty port of Yo-chow, and between which mart and Han-kow steamers of 500 tons burden run; and (3) Chang-tê Fu, on the Yuen-kiang. The products of the province are tea (the best quality of which is grown at Gan-hwa and the greatest quantity at Ping-kiang), hemp, cotton, rice, paper, tobacco, tea-oil and coal. The whole of the south-eastern portion of the province is one vast coal-field, extending over an area of 21,700 sq. m. This area is divided into nearly two equal parts—one, the Lei river coal-fields, yielding anthracite, and the other the Siang river coal-fields, yielding bituminous coal. The people have been, as a rule, more anti-foreign in their ideas, and more generally prosperous than the inhabitants of the other provinces. Baron von Richthofen noticed with surprise the number of fine country seats, owned by rich men who had retired from business, scattered over the rural districts. Almost all the traffic is conveyed through Hu-nan by water-ways, which lead northward to Han-kow on the Yangtsze Kiang, and Fan-cheng on the Han River, eastward to Fu-kien, southward to Kwang-tung and Kwang-si and westward to Sze-ch’uen. One of the leading features of the province is the Tung-t’ing lake. Yo Chow, the treaty port of the province, stands at the outlet of the river Siang into this lake.