Jiangxi

literally means ‘west of the Yangtze’, it actually originated as a contraction of ‘Jiangnan Xi’, or ‘West Jiangnan’.  The name came into being in the Tang Dynasty when the Jiangnan Circuit was divided into western and eastern halves.  Jiangxi is a southern province, reaching from the Yangtze River in the north to the hills of the south.  It borders Anhui to the north; Zhejiang to thenortheast; Fujian to the east; Guangdong to the south; Hunan to the west and Hubei to the northwest.

History

The Gan River valley lies in the centre of Jiangxi and is one of the few easily travelled passageways through the south-eastern mountains.  This makes Jiangxi extremely valuable as a transport route, and throughout much of Chinese history it has been strategically important.

During the Shang Dynasty, Jiangxi was not influenced by Chinese culture but was populated by a people known as the Yue. Not much is known about this period of Jiangxi history, but during the Spring and Autumn Period, the northern part of modern Jiangxi formed the western border of the state of Wu.  Historical evidence tells us of two settlements at that time: Ai and Po.  Wu was overtaken by the state of Yue in 473 BC, and in 333 BC Yue was conquered by Chu, who were in turn subjugated by the state of Qin in 221 BC.  That same year the Qin founded the Qin Dynasty and for the first time there was a unified Chinese state.

When China was unified, Jiangzi was incorporated into the Qin empire.  The Qin had a two-tiered administration system, with commanderies on top and counties on the bottom.  In what is now Jiangzi, there were seven counties where were administered from Jiangxi commandery.  All of the county seats were located along the Gan River system and usually they were no more than a day or two’s distance from each other. Military settlements were known to have existed at at least two of these counties.  This early settlement structure in Jiangxi has largely survived from Qin time to the present day.

At the beginning of the Han Dynasty, Yuzhand commandery was made responsible for north Jiangxi.  Yuzhang was named after the Yuzhang River, the original name of Gan River.  (Gan has become the abbreviated name of the province).  Eight more counties were added to the original seven in the year 201 and three more were added later.  Throughout the Han Dynasty, the commandery’s 18 counties covered most of the modern province of Jiangxi.

Under Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, Yuzhand Commandery was assigned to Yangzhou Province as provinces began to be established across China.  In 291 AD, during the Western Jin Dynasty, Jiangxi became its own province, or ‘zhou’, and was called Jiangzhou.

In the Sui Dynasty, there were 7 commanderies and 24 counties in Jiangxi, and during the Tang Dynasty one more commandery and 14 more counties were added to that number.   Later, all commanderies became zhou, although the word now means something more like a prefecture rather than a province.

During the Tang Dynasty, circuits were set up as the new top administration level.  Jiangxi was at first part of the Jiangnan Circuit, which was in 733 divided into western and eastern halves.  Jiangxi was part of te western half, called the Jiangnanxi Circuit (literally ‘Western circuits south of the Yangtze’).  It is from this source that the modern name Jiangxi originates.  Jiangnanxi had eight prefectures within its circuit, namely Hong, Rao, Qian, Ji, Jiang, Yuan, Fu and Xin.

The Tang Dynasty ended in 907 and was followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period.  Jiangxi initially belonged to Wu and then to Southern Tang, both of which were based in what is now Nanjing.  During the Yuan Dynasty, the circuit was divided into 13 different circuits and Jiangxi Province was first founded.  At that time, it included most of modern Guangdong, but during the Ming Dynasty Jiangxi acquired the borders that it basically still has today.

Jiangxi became one of the first bases for the Communists after the fall of the Qing Dynasty, and many of the rural poor were recruited into the People’s Revolution.  The Nanchang Uprising took place in Jiangxi during the Chinese Civil War on August 1, 1927. Later, Communist leaders hid in Jiangxi’s southern and western mountains when the Kuomindang attempted to wipe them out.  In 1931, the Chinese Soviet Republic’s government was set up in Ruijin, which is sometimes called the Former Red Capital or simply the Red Capital.  In 1935, after being completely circled by Nationalist forces, the Communists broke through and began the Long March to Yan’an.

Geography

Jiangxi is surrounded on three sides by mountains; the Mufu Mountains, Juiling Mountains and the Luoxiao Mountains on the west; the Huaiyu Mountains and Wuyi Mountains on the east, and the Jiulian Mountains and Dayu Mountains in the south.  Southern Jiangxi is hilly with alternating ranges and valleys, while the north is lower in altitude and flatter.  The highest point in the whole province is Mount Haunggang in the Wuyi Mountains, which has an altitude of 2157 metres.

The Gan River flows through the entire length of the province from south to north, entering Lake Poyang (the largest freshwater lake in China) in the north.

The climate is subtropical, with average temperatures in January of between 3 and 9 degrees Celsius and between 27 and 31 in July. Annual precipitation is 1200 – 1900 mm.

Major cities in Jiangxi include Nanchang, Jiujiang, Pingxiang, Jingdezhen,  Ganzhou, Yingtan and Fuzhou.

Administration

Jiangxi is divided in 11 prefecture-level divisions, which are in turn subdivided into 99 county-level divisions.  The counties are further divided into 1548 township-level divisions.

Economy

Jiangxi leads China in deposits of copper, tungsten, gold, silver, uranium, thorium, tantalum, niobium and other mineral resources, but it is still one of the poorer provinces in China. The nearby provinces of Guandong, Zhejiang and Fujian are however among the richest provinces, and are sometimes blamed for taking away money and talent from Jiangxi.

Rice is the main crop in Jiangxi, with cotton and rapeseed also important to the economy.  

The normal GDP for 2004 was about 349.6 billion yuan (43.37 billion USD) and the per capita income was 6650 RMB (803 USD).

Demographics

Jiangxi is over 99 percent Han Chinese, with minorities including Hui and Zhuang.  In the southern parts of the province is found a group of Han Chinese people known as the Hakka who have their own distinctive identity and their own language, also called Hakka.

Culture

Jiangzi is where the main concentration of the Gan varieties of the Chinese language are spoken.  The northern two-thirds of the province speak various dialects of Gan, including the Nanchang, Yichun and Ji’an dialects.  In the southern third of Jiangzi, Hakka is spoken, and along the northern border people speak Mandarin, Hui and Wu dialects.

Jingedzhen enjoys the reputation of producing the very best porcelain in China.

Jiangzi was a historical centre of Chan Buddhism, and exampleds of Hakka architechture can also be found in Jiangzi.

Although not very well known beyond its borders, Jiangxi cuisine is distinctive and rich, with some of the strongest flavours in China.  Cooks used fond of using chili peppers and pickled and fermented ingredients.

Ganju is the type of Chinese opera performed in Jiangxi.

Transportation

A nearly 1000 km railway, the Zhejiang-Jiangxi Railway, connects Hangzhou and Zhuzhou, Hunan.

Tourist Attractions

The resort area of Mount Lushan boasts beautiful scenery and has historical interest, but it is a famous throughout China and very popular and has therefore become expensive.  Near Mount Lushan, which is located near the northern port city of Jiujiang, are two important Buddhist temples, Donglin (East Wood) Temple and Tiefo (Iron Buddha) Temple.

The resort area Longhushan, near the small city of Yingtan,  claims to be the birthplace of Taoism and has great symbolic value to Taoists.  The area is considered by many to be the best-kept tourism secret in Jiangxi and includes numerous cave complexes as well as interesting temples, villages and mountains.

The Lushan National Park was declared to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.

Nature and Wildlife

Historically Jiangxi, with its mountains and dense forests, has been one of the wildest places in central China.  South China Tigers were seen there as recently as 15 or 20 years ago and researchers are now looking for any existing tigers.  Several potential sites for wilderness preserves for protecting or even reintroducing tigers have been named along the northern border.

Although not plentiful, other types of wildlife are more numerous in Jiangxi than in more developed areas of the country.  Mammals including muntjak, wild boars, civet cats and pangolins are protected but even so they sometimes are spotted in the forests and sometimes found on sale as meat at local markets.  Numerous species of birds are also common, especially up north near the marshes of Lake Poyang

Colleges and universities

Jiujiang Financial and Economic College
East China Institute of Technology


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