1902 Encyclopedia > China > Chinese Provinces (11) - Hoo-nan [Hunan]

China
(Part 17)




C. GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF CHINA PROPER

Province 11: Hoo-nan [Hunan]


The province of Hoo-nan, "South of the Lakes," is bounded on the N. by Hoo-pih, on the E. by Keang-se, on the S. by Kwang-se and Kwang-tung, and on the W. by Kwei-chow and Sze-chuen. It occupies an area of 84,000 square miles, and its population is estimated at 18,652,507. The provincial capital is Chang-sha Foo, in addition to which it counts eight prefectural cities within its boundaries. It is essentially a province of hills, the only plain of any extent being that around the Tung-ting Lake, but this extends little beyond the area which in summer forms part of the lake. To the north of Hang-chow Foo detached groups of higher mountains than are found in the southern portion of the province are met with. Among these is the Hang-shan, one of the Woo-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 Seang-keang, which takes its rise in the Nan-shan, and empties itself into the Tung-ting Lake; it is navigable for a great distance from its mouth, and the area of its basin is 39,000 square miles; (2.) The Tsze-keang, the basin of which covers an area of 10,000 square miles, and which is full of rapids, and navigable only for the smallest kinds of boats’ and (3.) The Yuen-keang, a large river, which has some of its head-waters in the province of Kwei-chow, and which empties itself into the Tung-ting Lake in the neighbourhood of Chang-t_h Foo;—its basin has an area of 34,300 square miles, 22,500 of which are in the province of Hoo-nan, and 12,500 in that of Kwei-chow; its navigation is difficult and dangerous, and only small boats are able to pass beyond Hang-kea, a mart situated about 500 le above Chang-tih Foo; and (4.) The Ling-keang, which flows from the tea district of Ho-funh Chow to the Tung-ting Lake. Its basin covers an area of about 8000 square miles, and it is navigable only in its lowest portion. The principal places of commerce are—(1.) Seang-tang, on the Seang-keang, which is said to contain 1,000,000 inhabitants, and to extend three miles long by five le deep; (2.) Chang-sha Foo, the provincial capital on the same river; and (3.) Chang-tih Foo, on the Yuen-keang. The products of the province are tea (the best quality of which is grown at Gan-hwa, and the greatest quantity at Ping-keang, hemp, cotton, rice, paper, tobacco, tea-oil, and coal. This last is by far the most important of the mineral products of Hoo-nan. The whole of the south-eastern portion of the province is one vast coal-field, extending over an area of 21,700 square miles. This area is divided into two nearly equal parts,—one, the Luy River coal-fields, yielding anthracite, and the other the Seang River coal-fields, yielding bituminous coal. The people are, as a rule, more generally prosperous than are the inhabitants of the other provinces, and Baron von Richthofen, in the course of his journey through the province, noticed with surprise the number of fine country seats owned by rich men who had retired from business, which were scattered over the rural districts. Almost all the traffic is conveyed through Hoo-nan by water-ways, which lead northward to Han-kow on the Yang-tsze Keang, and Fan0ching on the Han River, eastward to Sze-chuen. One of the leading features of the province is the Tung-ting Lake, which has been already described.






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