Zhejiang is located in the southern part of the Yangtze River Delta on the southeast coast of China. It borders Shanghai, the country's largest city, on the northeast. An expressway of 130 kilometers links up the provincial capital city of Hangzhou with Shanghai.
The province covers a total continental area of 101,800 square kilometers, and its coastal sea covers an area of 260,000 square kilometers. The continental coastline and the island shoreline totaling 6,500 kilometers and being the longest among all the provinces in the country occupy 20.3 percent of China's entire coastline. In addition, the province has the largest number of islands and islets in the country, among which 3,061 islands and islets have an area of more than 500 square kilometers each.
The region is renowned for its picturesque landscapes. Well-known mountains include the Yandang, Putuo, Xuedou, Tianmu, and Tiantai, and famous lakes comprise the West Lake in Hangzhou, the East Lake in Shaoxing and the South Lake in Jiaxing. The Thousand-Islet Lake in Hangzhou is the largest forest park in China. Famous rivers in the province include the Qiantang, and Nanxi. The Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal runs through the northern part of the province, and merges into the Qiantang River in Hangzhou.
Lying in a subtropical zone of monsoon climate, the province is blessed with abundant sunshine, ample rainfall in four distinct seasons. The annual temperature averages 15°C-18°C.
Zhejiang ranks the fourth in China in water resources in per unit area. The province has varied vegetations, winning the reputation as a treasure house of plants in southeast China. More than fifty species of wild plants such as ginkgo, commonly referred to as a living fossil, are listed in the Directory of Rare Plants under State Protection. Besides, in Zhejiang there are 1,900 species of wild animals, among which over 120 are under state protection, making up one-third of those in the Directory of Wild Animals under State Protection.
Mineral reserves in Zhejiang are mainly non-metallic. The prospect of development of the rich deposits of petroleum and natural gas in the continental shelf is very promising.The province is also abundant in fishery resources. The Zhoushan Archipelago is the largest area for sea fishery in China.
Population and Administrative Divisions
The province has a population of 49.80 million, among which 400,000 belong to 53 ethnic minority groups, including the 200,000 She people and 20,000 Moslems. Jingning She Autonomous County in Lishui City is the only She autonomous county in China.In administrative division, there are 11 cities under the direct jurisdiction of the province, which are further divided into 36 counties, 22 county-level cities and 32 urban districts. The 11 cities are Hangzhou, Ningbo, Wenzhou, Jiaxing, Huzhou, Shaoxing, Taizhou, Jinhua, Quzhou, Lishui and Zhoushan.
Zhejiang has a long history. As early as in the Old Stone Age about 50,000 years ago, the primitive man called the Jiande Man lived in the hilly regions in the western part of what is now Zhejiang Province. During the New Stone Age, human activities extended to a wider area in the province. Over 100 sites of ruins of this period have been discovered in the province.
During the period of the Three Kingdoms (220-280 AD), this area gained the administrative status as a province. Then in 758, under the reign of Emperor Suzong of the Tang Dynasty, Zhejiang took initial shape of what administratively a province was really like. The Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) made Hangzhou, known as Lin'an at the time, the national capital for 150 years. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the region was officially designated with the name of Zhejiang Province.
The province of Zhejiang saw its economy develop earlier than most of other parts in China. In ancient times, the province led the country in industries and handicrafts, such as silk, porcelain, papermaking, printing, and shipbuilding. Zhejiang is also the hometown of numerous talents, with outstanding representatives including thinkers Wang Chong, Wang Yangming, Huang Zongxi and Gong Zizhen; poets He Zhizhang, Lo Bingwang, Men Jiao and Lu You; scientist Shen Kuo; and dramatists Li Yu and Hong Sheng. In the 20th Century, a number of outstanding figures such as the great masters of Chinese literature Lu Xun and Mao Dun; educationist Cai Yuanpei; famous scientists Mao Yisheng, Zhu Kezhen, Qian Xuesen, Chen Xingshen as well as scholars including Li Shutong, Wang Guowei, Xia Yan, Ai Qing, Xu Zhimo, Chen Wangdao, Ma Yinchu and Zha Liangyong were all natives of Zhejiang.