Shandong in eastern China has played a major role in Chinese history since the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River. It has served as a pivotal cultural and religious center for Taoism, Chinese Buddhism and Confucianism.
Shandong literally means “east of the mountains”, as it is located to the east of Taihang Mountains.
Land and History
The province consists of two distinct segments. The first is an inland zone bounded by the provinces of Hebei to the north and west, Henan to the southwest, and Anhui and Jiangsu to the south. The second is the Shandong Peninsula, extending some 200 miles seaward from the Wei and Jiaolai river plains, with the Bohai Sea to the north and the Yellow Sea to the south; the peninsula accounts for a large share of the province’s coastline of some 1,575 miles.
Shandong is dominated by two hill masses to the east-northeast of the Grand Canal and to the south-southwest of the present course of the Yellow River.
Shandong, with a history of more than 5,000 years, is considered one of the birthplaces of Chinese civilization.
Shandong’s Mount Tai is the most revered mountain of Taoism and one of the world’s sites with the longest history of continuous religious worship. The Buddhist temples in the mountains to the south of the provincial capital of Jinan were once among the foremost Buddhist sites in China. The city of Qufu is the birthplace of Confucius, and was later established as the center of Confucianism.
Qingdao was leased to Germany in 1897 and Weihai to Britain in 1898. Shandong was occupied by Japanese troops during the World War II.
Economy and Agriculture
Four narrow lakes forming part of the Grand Canal system stretch out along this depression and are also linked to a series of saline marshes that separate the fertile margin at the western edge of the central hills from the main sections of the North China Plain to the south and west.
Shandong is characterized by a continental climate with cold winters and hot, dry summers.
Shandong ranks first among the provinces in the production of a variety of products, including cotton, wheat, and garlic as well as precious metals such as gold and diamonds. It also has one of the biggest sapphire deposits in the world.
The Province is frequently affected by marine monsoons, especially during the summer time. The climate is characterized by rain during the summer and autumn and a dry winter. The annual average temperature is between 11 and 14 degrees Centigrade while the annual precipitation is mostly affected by the monsoon rain. Between 500 millimeters and 1000 millimeters of rain can fall each year.
The production of wine is one of the main industries in the Shandong Province. Presently, there are more than 140 wineries in the region, mainly distributed in the Nanwang Grape Valley and along the Yan-Peng Sightseeing Highway.
Tsingtao beer is also world-famous.
Shandong is the ancestral home of both Confucius and Mencius. Its rich cultural and folklore tradition is most clearly evidenced in the temples, shrines, legends, and cults associated with Mount Tai and with the temple, tomb, and ancestral home of Confucius.
The major historical sites in the Province are:
The inscriptions on clay pots unearthed at Dawenkou and Dinggongcun are believed to bear the earliest written language of the country.
The ruins of ancient Longshan City which is considered the earliest city in the country.
Portions of the Great Wall built during the Qi State period which is believed to be the most ancient great wall in the country.
The Confucius Temple, Confucius Mansion and Confucius Cemetery in Qufu.
Shandong is also blessed with beautiful landscapes. The most famous scenic spots are Taishan Mountain, Mt. Laoshan and the seaside of the Jiaodong peninsula. In 1987 and 1994, Taishan Mountain, the Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Confucius Mansion in Qufu were inscribed on the World Cultural and Natural Heritage List by UNESCO.
Jinan, its capital city, is one of China’s most famous historical and cultural cities. It has numerous natural springs, hence its name ‘Spring City’.
Shandong Province is also considered the birthplace of China’s pottery, porcelain and silk. Throughout the province the tourist can find traditional items like the clocks and watches of Yantai, the porcelain of Zibo, the kites of Weifang, the shell-carving and beer of Qingdao.
Edited by staff