Shanxi or Shansi (shänˈshēˈ) [key], province (2010 pop. 35,712,111), c.60,000 sq mi (155,400 sq km), NE China. The capital is Taiyuan. It is bounded on the west and the south by the Huang He (Yellow River) and on the north by Inner Mongolia. Much of Shanxi is a high plateau region. The soil is fertile loess, but scant rainfall and widespread erosion hamper the raising of sufficient food, which occasionally leads to famine. Reforestation and irrigation projects have been instituted. The main food crops are winter wheat, corn, sorghum, soybeans, millet, barley, and fruit. Cotton, tobacco, and grapes are grown as commercial crops. Livestock is raised in the northern grazing areas, and wool and hides are exported. Shanxi has rich and extensive coal and iron deposits; it supplies as much as one quarter of China's coal. Large deposits of titanium and vanadium are also found. A salt lake in the southwestern part of the province is one of China's major inland sources of salt. The province also has some heavy industry. The Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center is in NW Shanxi. The best communication system of the province is its rail network with connections to central and N China. There are extensive road networks centered in Taiyuan, Datong, Changzhi, Linfen, and Houma. The Fen River (the longest) is partly navigable; it is icebound in winter. From 1911 until the Communist takeover in 1949, a warlord, Yen Xi-shan, ruled Shanxi as an almost independent province; he made notable internal improvements and brought a degree of prosperity. Shanxi's strategic position in the northeast made it a center of Communist activity in the 1940s.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.