Liaoning is a northern coastal province in Northeast China on the shore of Yellow Sea. It is the smallest but most populous province in the region.
Liaoning Province, often called ‘the Golden Triangle’ because of its superior geographical location, includes boundaries on the Yellow Sea, the Bohai Gulf, and the Yalu River, which makes it the closest gateway to the Korean Peninsula. As the southernmost province of the three provinces in northeast China, its proximity to the sea has given it commercial and strategic advantages throughout its history.
Continental climate characterized by long and cold winters, warm and rainy summers and comparatively short and windy spring and autumn. January is the coldest month with an average temperature of -17 degrees.
At Dalian there are about 200 frost-free days, while at Shenyang there are between 160 and 180 frost-free days per year. Precipitation in Liaoning as a whole diminishes consistently from southeast to northwest. Average annual precipitation is about 2 to 40 inches (50 to 1,000 mm), three-fourths of it falling between June and September and almost none from December through February. The summer rainfall is often torrential, but everywhere the scarcity of spring precipitation tends to leave crops short of water.
Liaoning consists essentially of a central lowland, with Shenyang at its centre, flanked by mountain masses to east and west. A southward extension of the eastern highlands forms the Liaodong Peninsula. There are four main topographical regions: the central plains, the Liaodong Peninsula, the western highlands, and the eastern mountain zone.
The central plains, constituting part of the Northeast Plain, are the most important area in the province. Structurally, the depression that it occupies is continuous with that of the North China Plain to the southwest, but, topographically, the Liaoning plains are erosional rather than depositional in character. The relief of the plains is undulating but low, and natural drainage is inadequate in many places, creating swamps, some of which have been drained. Undeveloped areas include swamps and sand formations.
The eastern mountain zone lies to the east of Shenyang. The least-developed part of the province, it consists of a complex mountain mass, extending northward into Jilin province, with elevations averaging about 1,500 feet.
Most of the landscape of the central plains consists of cultivated fields. Wild animals are scarce, apart from rodents. Locusts are the most destructive pest.
The natural vegetation of the Liaodong Peninsula is not well preserved, because of the extent of cultivation and settlement. The forests that remain, mostly on the eastern sides of the hills, contain birches, limes, elms, and pines, together with typical Manchurian trees—oaks, apples, and ashes.
Archeological evidence establishes that community life existed in Liaoning 5,000 years ago. From its early beginnings through to the mid-20th Century, this place has been sought after as an important trade center, an area that contains rich, untapped resources, and for its strategic position as the Golden Triangle. Liaoning has been the birthplace of warlords and the cradle of the Qing Dynasty. Lasting from 1644 to the 1911 Revolution, this feudal dynasty was set up by invading Manchus. Unfortunately, the Manchus were not the last people to invade this area. Liaoning’s often troubled history has given us an interesting legacy of architecture and artifacts, as well as archeological treasures, which combined with its transcendent natural beauty, makes the province an area you will want to visit many times. Below are a few highlights.
In the past Liaoning formed part of Korean kingdoms as Gojoseon and Goguryeo, as well as Chinese polities such as the Yan State (of the Zhou Dynasty) and the Han Dynasty. It was also inhabited by non-Han peoples such as Xiongnu, Donghu, Xianbei. In addition, the Balhae, Khitan, Jurchen, Mongol Empire and Northern Yuan ruled Liaoning.
The Ming Empire took control of Liaoning in 1371, just three years after the expulsion of the Mongols from Beijing. Around 1442, a defense wall was constructed to defend the agricultural heartland of the province from a potential threat from the Jurchen-Mongol Oriyanghan (who were Ming’s tributaries) from the northwest. Between 1467 and 1468, the wall was expanded to protect the region from the northeast as well, against attacks from Jianzhou Jurchens (who were later to become known as the Manchu people). Although similar in purpose to the Great Wall of China, this “Liaodong Wall” was of a lower-cost design. While stones and tiles were used in some parts, most of the wall was in fact simply an earth dike with moats on both sides.
The economy of Liaoning is by far the strongest in the Northeast and is one of the strongest provincial economies in China. Liaoning is one of the country’s principal industrial provinces. One reason for the high level of development in Liaoning is the high level of capitalization, based both on investments made under the government since 1949 and on important foreign investments made between 1896 and 1945, mainly by the Japanese.
In Shenyang, Liaoning’s capital city, there is a Manchu version of the Forbidden City known as the Shenyang Imperial Palace. Built on the same principles as the Forbidden City in Beijing, although much smaller in scope, it was completed by Huang Taiji in 1636. Second only to the Forbidden City, it is the most intact imperial building in existence in China. The Imperial Palace is a museum that features extensive exhibits of jade, ivory, artworks of Ming and Qing dynasties (including paintings, sculpture, enamels and ceramics), musical instruments, and a large display of 17th and 18th Centuries military equipment. It was in this palace in 1644 that Shunzhi became Emperor before he crossed the Great Wall to invade China.
The emperors that built the Imperial Palace also built their burial sites in Shenyang: Fuling Tomb also called the East Tomb; and Zhaoling Tomb, also called the North Tomb. Emperor Nurhachi and his mistress are buried in Fuling Tomb. Nurhachi’s son, Huang Taiji (the father of Emperor Shunzhi) and his empress are buried in Zhaoling. The large and beautiful Zhaoling tomb has been compared to the Ming Tombs in Beijing and is located in the enormous Beiling Park. A third tomb, Yongling Tomb, completes the famous tomb group known as the ‘three tombs outside of the Great Wall’.
The Mukden Palace was the palace of the Qing Dynasty emperors before they conquered the rest of China and moved their capital to Beijing. Though not as large nor as well known as its counterpart (the Forbidden City) in Beijing, the Mukden palace is significant for its representation of palace architecture at the time, and has recently been included on the UNESCO World Heritage Site as an extension of the Imperial Palace site in Beijing.
In addition, three imperial tombs dating from the Qing Dynasty are located in Liaoning. These tomb sites have been grouped with other Ming and Qing Dynasties tombs (such as the Ming Dynasty Tombs in Beijing, and the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum in Nanjing) as a combined UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Wunu Mountain City, a Goguryeo site found in Huanren Manchu Autonomous County, is part of a combined UNESCO World Heritage Site that also includes sites in Ji’an, Jilin.
Benxi offers a boat ride though a large stalactite filled cave and underground river.
Anshan hosts the Jade Buddha Palace, the largest Buddha statue made of jade in the world.
Liaoyang, one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in northeast China, has a number of historical sites, including the White Pagoda (Baita), that dates to the Yuan Dynasty.
The port city of Dalian, located on the tip of the Liaodong Peninsula, is a tourist destination in its own right, with beaches, resorts, zoos, seafood, shopping, Russian- and Japanese-era heritage architecture, and streetcars, a rare sight in China.
Dandong, on the border with North Korea, is a medium-sized city that offers a cross-river view of the North Korean city of Sinŭiju.
Bijia Mountain is a curious island which joins to the mainland at low tide by a land bridge.
The rail transportation facilities of Liaoning are among the best in China, and the annual tonnage transported is one of the highest for any province.
Edited by staff