Liáoníng (simplified Chinese:辽宁 - traditional: 遼寧) is a province in the northeast of China. It borders the Inner Mongolia autonomous region in the north, Jílín province (吉林) to the east, the country of North Korea to the southeast and Hébĕi province (河北) to the west. The southern edge of Liáoníng forms a peninsula which points south with the Yellow Sea on the west and Bohai Sea to the east. The north of the province is part of the Gobi Desert. The east and central spine are mountainous. In contrast the western half of the province consists of large flat fertile plains.
Historically Liáoníng was part of Manchuria and populated by the Manchu ethnic group. At the end of the 19th century, a large amount of immigration from other areas of China to Liáoníng resulted in the Han ethnic group becoming dominant. During first half of the 20th century, Liáoníng came under Russian and then Japanese influence. It was in Liáoníng that the Mukden Incident occurred that is considered to mark the start of the Japan-China war. Under Japanese control, the region became part of the puppet state of Manchukuo. After World War II, Liáoníng played a significant part in the conflict between the People's Liberation Army and the Kuomintang.
The Japanese had used Liáoníng as an industrial base. After the war, the Chinese, with Russian support, expanded on this. Liáoníng became famous for its heavy industry. Today, these industries are still very important to the region: for example, the iron and steel production in Anshan and Benxi as well as ship building in Dalian and aircraft and car manufacturing in Shenyang.
Geography and Climate
There are 14 prefectures in Liáoníng. In order of population they are:
- Shěnyáng (沈阳市)
- Dàlián (大连市)
- Ānshān (鞍山市)
- Fǔshùn (抚顺市)
- Běnxī (本溪市)
- Dāndōng (丹东市)
- Jǐnzhōu (锦州市)
- Húludǎo (葫芦岛市)
- Yíngkǒu (营口市)
- Pánjǐn (盘锦市)
- Fùxīn (阜新市)
- Liáoyáng (辽阳市)
- Tiělǐng (铁岭市)
- Cháoyáng (朝阳市)
The world's oldest feathered dinosaur fossils, Sinosauropteryx, were found in Yixian. These, along with many other Lower Cretaceous fossils including early flowers, pollinating insects, mammals, marsupials and a host of other finds have been highly significant to modern paleontology. There is a museum in Yixian where you can view many of the discoveries.
Shenyang, the largest city in Liaoning, was once the capital of Manchuria and subsequently the capital of China during the early Qing dynasty. The Imperial Palace has been preserved and is now a museum and popular tourist attraction. Though it lacks the scale of the Forbidden City in Beijing, the palace is architecturally and historical interesting. It listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with its Beijing counterpart. Shenyang also contains three royal tombs from the Qing dynasty which are also listed, combined combined with other tombs of the Ming and Qing periods in Beijing, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Qian Shan (千山) mountain in Anshan is a renowned scenic area. The site is unusual in containing both Buddhist monasteries and nunneries alongside Daoist monasteries. A large aviary is also located within the park. Near to Qian Shan, in the city of Anshan, there is a Buddhist temple containing the world's largest jade statue of the Buddha, made from a single piece of jade, 7.95 meters tall and weighing 260.76 tons.
The largest water-filled cave in Asia is located near the city of Běnxī. Visitors may cruise through the cave system on small boats viewing the stalagmites and other rock formations that are illuminated by various coloured lights.
The city of Dàlián on the southern tip of Liáoníng is a popular tourist destination. The city has many beautiful beaches and cruses can be taken to nearby islands. The area is famed for its seafood. Other attractions include three zoological parks: Dalian Forest Zoo, Shengya Ocean World Aquarium, and Polar World.
The eastern extreme of the Great Wall of China is in Liaoning. There are sections of the wall in Liaoning, which were only identified as part of the Great Wall of China in 1992. Some sections have been opened to tourists near the cities of Hushan, Jiumenkou and Xigou. These offer an opportunity for people to explore the Great Wall in a raw unrestored state, while avoiding the crowds that flock to the sections near Beijing.
The province contains two public airports: Shenyang Taoxian International Airport (SHE), and Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport (DLC). These offer flights to most major cities in China and also international flights to Pyongyang in North Korea, Seoul in South Korea, as well as several cites in Russia and Japan.
Several highways service the province. The Shenda highway, the first road of this kind in China, runs form Shenyang to Dalian. National Highway 101 connects Shenyang with the capital, Beijing. There are several other highway routes cris-crossing the province. In total there are 52,415 km of highways, including 1,637 km of express highways (as of 2004).
There are 3,939 kilometers of railway including 1,050 km of electrified tracks within Liaoning. Liaoning has the densest rail network in the country linking, Beijing-Harbin, Shenyang-Dalian, Shenyang-Jilin and Shenyang-Dandong.
Liaoning has an ancient history. The area has become famous for its fossils. In 1984, the skull and other bones of Jinniushan Man were found. These date back 280,000 years. The remains of a village dating to 8,000 years ago, called Chahai Village, has been found near Fuxin. This is the oldest neolithic site in China. In 1983 the temple and altar complex of Niuheliang was discovered near Jianping in western Liaoning. This belongs to the Hongshan culture and dates backs over 5,000 years. In historic recordings Liaoning first rose to prominence when the area became the centre of the Liao Dynasty kingdom (辽朝 Liáo Cháo), otherwise known as the Khitan (Qidan) Empire (契丹國), which existed from 907 to 1125 CE. The Liao dynasty was taken over by the Jurchen people to form the Jin Dynasty (1115–1234), which covered all of northern China before itself being overrun by the Mongol empire of the Yuan Dynasty.
During the Ming Dynasty, the Jurchen people became divided into clans or tribes. Liaoning came under the Ming Chinese sphere of control. One of the tribal leaders, Nurhaci (1559-1626), broke form the Ming Empire and, uniting the disparate Jurchen tribes, founded the Manchu ethnic group and the Later Jin Dynasty that would be known as Manchuria. Liaoning was the cradle from which the Manchu went on to conquer first the Mongols and then Ming China itself to start the Qing Dynasty. The capitals of the Later Jin, Liaoyang and Shenyang, are within Liaoning. Shenyang maintained special status throughout the Qing Dynasty as a secondary capital complete with its own Forbidden City.
The early 20th century saw the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in China. Liaoning became the centrepiece in a struggle among China, Russia and Japan. During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, many key battles took place in Liaoning. The 9-18 incident that started the first Sino-Japanese war occurred in 1932 in Shenyang. Liaoning quickly fell into Japanese hands along with much of northeast China. The Japanese founded the puppet state of Manchukuo, which included Liaoning. It was during the Russian and Japanese occupations that the area was first developed for modern industry.
With the founding of the People's Republic of China, Liaoning became a centre of heavy industrial development. Coal, iron, oil and steel are produced here in large quantities. Many cities in the area developed a reputation for dirt and pollution, a reputation they are now trying to shake off.