"Gate to Central Asia" into immediate connection with the Yangtse valley on the one hand, and with Tientsin and the sea on the other.
Conceive a vast plain bordered by mountains on its western side, and crossed by streams running at right angles to these mountain ranges; a plain unrelieved by undulating hill, green in the season of growing harvest, but brown for the rest of the year, the central part buried in sand and loess deposit brought down by the Yellow River; conceive this plain dotted over with cities, towns, and villages, and crossed in every direction with brown earth roads, wide in the north and centre, and narrow and paved in the south, teeming with a hardy farming population, and you have a picture of Honan south of the Yellow River.
North of the Hwang-ho the scenery is more beautiful. The region of Hwaiking Fu and Chinghwa Chen has been described as one of the most beautiful spots in the plains of China. "A perfect garden, rendered park-like by numerous plantations of trees and shrubs. The soil is very fertile. The luxurious growth of the cereals recalls to mind the richest agricultural countries in Europe. Numerous clear streams descend from the Tai-hang Shan, and the inhabitants make the amplest use of them for irrigation."
Eight provinces border on Honan:—
On the north, Shansi and Chihli; on the south, Hupeh; on the east, Shantung, Kiangsu, and Anhwei; on the west, Shensi and Szechwan.
There are eight principal rivers:—
1. The Chang river, from Shensi, follows a long course, to empty itself into the Grand Canal not far from Tientsin in Chihli.
2. The Wei river, which gives the name to Weihwei Fu. On the banks of one of its tributaries stands the prefectural city of Changte Fu. It flows into the Grand Canal.
3. The Tsin river, flowing south from Shansi, crosses the border above Hwaiking Fu, which stands on its banks. It flows south-east into the Yellow River.
- Baron Richthofen.