Hubei or Hupeh (both: hōˈbāˈ) [key], province (2010 pop. 57,237,740), c.72,000 sq mi (186,480 sq km), central China. The capital is Wuhan (formerly it was Wuchang, which is now part of Wuhan). In this province the Chang River (Yangtze), flowing through the south, is joined by the Han River, coming from the northwest. At their junction lies Wuhan, a city comprising three former cities, Hankou, Hanyang, and Wuchang; it is a transportation hub and the major industrial and commercial center of central China. The central part of Hubei was once a huge lake and is now a basin, at or below sea level, formed from silt deposited by the Chang. Hubei's lakes and many rivers provide excellent irrigation facilities, and the warm climate, adequate rainfall, and rich soil make the province one of the most productive in China. Wheat, barley, rapeseed, and beans are raised in the winter, and rice, cotton, tea, soybeans, and corn in the summer. Rice production has increased significantly as a result of water conservation, modern fertilizer, better seed, and double-cropping; the province produces a surplus, which is sent to N China. Wheat is raised in the drier areas. Commercial crops include sesame, peanuts, and ramie. The minerals in the province are mostly nonferrous, although there are two huge steel complexes, one at Wuhan and one at Huangshi. Coal, copper, and gypsum are also mined. Motor vehicles and chemicals are among the main products of the province. Libraries, museums, and sports facilities have been opened in many of Hubei's cities.
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