Shanxi is a landlocked province of the People’s Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The province’s capital and largest city is Taiyuan, while its next most populated prefecture-level cities are Changzhi and Datong. Its one-character abbreviation is “晋”, after the state of Jin that existed there during the Spring and Autumn period.
The name Shanxi means “West of the Mountains,” a reference to the province’s west of the Taihang Mountains. Shanxi borders Hebei to the east, Henan to the south, Shaanxi to the west, and Inner Mongolia to the north. Shanxi’s terrain is characterized by a plateau bounded partly by mountain ranges. Shanxi’s culture is largely dominated by the ethnic Han majority, who make up over 99% of its population. Jin Chinese is considered by some linguists to be a distinct language from Mandarin, and its geographical range covers most of Shanxi. Both Jin and Mandarin are spoken in Shanxi.
Shanxi is known for its abundance of heritage sites. There are 3 World Cultural Heritage sites in the province, namely Pingyao, Yungang Grottoes, and Mount Wutai, 6 places “National Key Scenic Spots,” 6 “National historical and cultural cities,” 7 “National historical and cultural towns” and 23 “National historical and cultural villages.” It also possesses 452 Major Historical and Cultural Sites Protected at the National Level, which is by far the greatest among all Chinese provinces.