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I. Geography and natural conditions
The province has three distinctive landforms from north to south. The Loess Plateau in the north has an elevation of 800-1,300 meters, and accounts for 45 percent of the total area of the province. The Central Shaanxi Plain in the middle averages an elevation of 520 meters. The Qinling and Daba mountainous areas in the south include the Qinling Mountains, Daba Mountains, and Hanjiang River Valley, accounting for 36 percent of the total area of the province. The Qinling Mountains measures 1,000-3,000 meters in elevation and the Daba Mountains in the southernmost of the province, 1,500-2,000 meters.
So far, 91 kinds of minerals have been found in the province, 58 of which have deposits ranking among the top ten in China. The reserves and output of gold rank fifth and fourth respectively. The output of molybdenum amounts to half of the country’s total. The proved deposits of coal, the most abundant mineral in the province, come to 161.8 billion tons. The Shenmu-Fugu Coalfield in northern Shaanxi has reserves of 134 billion tons. It is one of the best fields in the world because of its thick coal layer and easy access and exploitation. In addition, northern Shaanxi has a gas field with proved reserves of 350 billion cubic meters.
North of the Qinling Mountains is the Yellow River system, composed of the Weihe, Jinghe, Luohe, and Wuding rivers. South of the mountains is the Yangtze River system consisting of the Hanjiang, Danjiang, and Jialing rivers. The Hanjiang River, the largest river in the province, provides more than half of the province’s total water runoff. Shaanxi has an annual water runoff of 42.6 billion cubic meters, which has a power-generation potential of 14 million kw.
Shaanxi has more than 750 species of wild vertebrates, 79 of them rare. It is home to 12 species of animals and birds under state protection including the giant panda, snub-nosed monkey, and clouded leopard.
The province has 59,300 square kilometers of forest in the Qinling, Daba, Guanshan, Huanglong, and Qiaoshan mountainous areas. It has a 28.8 percent rate of forest coverage. It has 3,300-plus species of wild plants, 37 of them rare. The province has 800 species of medicinal plants of great economic value including sea-buckthorn and gynostemma pentaphylla. It leads the country in the output and quality of raw lacquer. The traditional exports of the province are dates, walnut meat, and tung oil.
5. Tourism resources
Dispersed in Shaanxi are 72 imperial mausoleums, witness to the ancient economy and culture. The province is best known for ten scenic spots including the Mausoleum of Huang Di, the Qin terra-cotta warriors and horses, the Xi’an Forest of Stone Tablets, the Shaanxi Museum of History, and the city gate and wall of Xi’an. The Qin terra-cotta warriors and horses are often called the Eighth Wonder of the World and have been included by UNESCO in the list of World Cultural Heritages.
In ancient times, Shaanxi was endowed with lush grass and dense forest and was known as Nature’s Storehouse and Green Sea on Land, but over the course of many dynasties the beautiful land was gradually destroyed and replaced by the Loess Plateau and crisscrossed by gullies because of severe desertification, war and soil erosion. The Yan’an and Yulin areas are the most affected by the erosion on the upper reaches of the Yellow River. This section of the Yellow River brings down more than 100 million tons of silt per year.
The project of Beautifying Mountains and Rivers of Shaanxi has been launched in the northern part of the province. The project focuses on the ecological environment, especially soil erosion, and covers the sandstorm-hit areas along the Great Wall, the Loess Plateau, the gullies in northern Shaanxi and areas north of the Weihe River, the Central Shaanxi Plain, and the Qinling and Daba mountainous areas. It is expected that after several decades of effort, Shaanxi will become a land of green mountains, clean water, blue sky, and wealthy people and thus achieve sustainable economic and social development.