Geographical Location Gansu is an important province in northwest China. Being abbreviated as “Gan” or “Long”, it is situated as geographical center, on the middle and upper reaches of the Yellow River and the Yangtze River, and at the juncture of the Loess Plateau, Inner Mongolia Plateau and the Qinghai Tibet Plateau. It faces Shaanxi Province in the east, boards Sichuan and Qinghai provinces on the south and southwest, and adjoins Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the northwest. It is bounded on the north by Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and the People’s Republic of Mongolia and joined by Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in the northeast. Running through the whole province, the ancient Silk Road and the new Eurasian Continental Bridge are important thoroughfare linking up East Asia, Central Asia, West Asia and Europe.
Being located at 92.13-108.46 E and 32.31-42.57 N, Gansu is about 1,520 kilometers long from east to west, 1,655 kilometers in its widest place and only 25 kilometers in the narrowest place.
Topography and Landforms The landforms in Gansu are complicated and varied. High mountains and deep valleys aloft on its southeastern part with peaks rising one higher than another. Covered by loess, a loess topography has formed in its eastern part. Hexi Corridor, the western fringe of the province has smooth terrain, oasis, dessert and Gobi desert. With cold climate and modern glacier, the terrain is highly situated in the southwestern part of the province.
The highest peak of the province is Tuanjie Peak of Qilian Mountain with an altitude of 5,808 meters above sea level and its lowest point is the bottom of Bailongjiang River valley in the eastern part of Wenxian county with an altitude of only 550 meters above sea level. The terrain in the whole province is descending to three levels as a flight of stairs. Hilly areas and plateau consist of 70% of the total land area while desert and Gobi desert consist of 14.99%. According to its topographic feature and structural formation, Gansu can be divided into 8 landform areas of Longnan (Liupan mountain)hilly area, Longzhong loess plateau, Gannan plateau, Qilian mountainous area, Hexi corridor high land plain, Beishan mountainous area and Alashan plateau.
River Distrbution There are 450 rivers in Gansu, among which 78 rivers have a yearly runoff of over 100 million cubic meters each.. The Black River, Shule River, Yellow River trunk stream, Tao River and Jialingjiang River are the greater ones. The river basin within the province can he divided into 3 valleys as Hexi and the northern part of Chaidamu inland river valley, the Yellow River valley and the Yangtze River valley with 9 water systems of Shule River system, Yellow River mainstream system, Tao River system, Huang River system, Wei River system, Jin River system and Jialingjiang River system.
Climatic Characteristics Gansu has a dry climate with plenty of sunshine, strong radiation and the temperature varies greatly from day to night. The annual average temperature is between 0。C-14。C dropping from the southeast to the northwest. It is 4。C-9。C in Hexi Corridor, 0。C-6。C in Qilian mountainous area, 5。C-9。C and 7。C-10。C in Longzhong and Longdong respectively. Its annual rainfall is about 300millimeters and differs greatly in different parts. It is reduced from 760 millimeters in the southeast to 42 millimeters in the northwest. The seasonal rainfall is also uneven and concentrated mainly from June to September. Gansu has rich solar energy resources with an annual sunshine time of 1,700-3,300 hours, increasing from the southeast to the northwest. Hexi Corridor has a maximum annual sunshine time of 2,800-3,300 hours, Longnan has a minimum sunshine time of 1,800-2,300 hours, Longzhong, Longnan and Gannan has an annual sunshine time of 2,100-2,700 hours.
Gansu has rich land resources. Its total Land area is about 454,000 square kilometers, 2.3 hectares per capita. About 381 million mu (22.07 million hectares) of which is cultivated land, 14 million mu (0.93 million hectares) land has been used for construction and 287 million mu (19.13 million hectares) land remains untouched. Gansu is one of the five main pastoral areas in the whole country with 249 million mu (16.6 million hectares)of grasslands. The province has more mountainous area and less level ground. The mountainous and hilly areas consist of 78.2% of its total land area. The utilization ratio of land is about 56.93% and 42.05% hasn’t been used, which include desert, Gebi desert, stone mountains in high and cold areas, naked rock, saline and alkali low-lying land and marshland. Among the unused land 11.2615 million mu (0.7509 million hectares) are wasteland that can be developed.
Mineral Resources According to “National Mineral Reserves Journal ” published by the Ministry of Land and Resources of the People’s Republic of China, by the end of 2002, Gansu has 10 varieties of minerals taking the first place, 34 varieties are among the top five and 61 are among the top ten in the whole country.
Chinese Herb Resources Gansu is one of China’s main areas producing Chinese herbs with 9,500 kinds of crude drugs (including wild ones), ranking the second place in China. At present about 450 kinds of crude drugs have been under operation, such as Chinese angelica, Chinese rhubarb, Dangshen (Codonopsis pilosula), licorice root, the root of membranous milk vetch, safflower, the bulb of fritillary, the tuber elevated gastrodia, the bark of eucommia, glossy genoderma, notopterygium, Chinese caterpillar fungus and so on.. Especially the Chinese angelica produced in Minxian county and Dangshen produced in Wenxian county are well know both at home and abroad for the great quantity and good quality. According to statistics, there are about 1,080 kinds of animals, plants and minerals containing Chinese medicine, among which 951 kinds are medical plants, 87 are animals, 34 are minerals and 8 kinds are medicinal herbs. A lot of crude drugs have been introduced from other parts of the country, such as the dried rhizome of rehmannia, ginseng, the rhizome of Chinese gold thread, sweet potato, rhizome corydalis and Siberian fritillary bulb and the medicinal material cultivating area has been enlarged.
Water Resources Gansu totally has about 58.48 billion cubic meters of water resources and only 12.19 billion cubic meters have been used up to now, consisting of 20.8% of the total. The theoretical deposit of waterpower is about 17.24 million kilowatts. Presently the hydropower produced in the province takes the 4th place in the whole country.
Wildlife Resources There are about 822 kinds of wild animals existing in Gansu, of which 32 are amphibious animals, 63 are reptile, 572 are birds and 163 are mammals. They are distributed mainly over Wenxian, Wudu, Kangxian, Chenxian, Tianshui and Liangdang counties. The area of Rangshuihe and Danbao in Wenxian county has been listed as the NO.13 Nature Preservation Zone in the whole country, where world precious animals like giant panda, golden monkey, musk deer and lynx have been produced. Sika deer, red deer and musk deer have also been raised. 105 wild terrestrial vertebrates are under state protection, among which 30 kinds are under first-class protection, 75 are under second-class protection and 18 are under provincial protection
Population and Nationalities:
Gansu has been a multi-ethnic province since ancient times. 54 nationalities have inhabited here. Among its total population of 26.0334 million, the minority population takes up 2.199 million. Hui nationality is the largest in all the minority nationalities with a population of 1.185 million. Ten ethnic groups of Hui. Tibet, Dongxiang, Tu, Yugu, Baoan, Mongolia, Sala, Hazak and Manchu have inhabited in Gansu for generations. Yugu, Dongxiang and Baoan are unique nationalities. The expected average life span is about 70.39 years in the whole province.