Shanxi is a province of China located on a plateau made up of higher ground to the east and the west and a series of valleys in the center through which tributaries of the Yellow River run. Its one-character abbreviation is “Jin”, after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn period.
Shanxi borders Taihang Mountains on the east, the Yellow River to the west and the south and The Great Wall of China to the north. Its unique geographical location makes Shanxi difficult to access.
As one of the cradles for Chinese civilization, Shanxi enjoys a long history and abundant historical heritages. People lived here as early as 100,000 years ago. And the written history can be traced back to 3,000 years ago. From Pingyao Ancient City to Yungang Grottoes, from Mount Wutai to Jinci, from Hukou Waterfall to the Hanging Temple, Shanxi never lacks natural as well as cultural tourism resources. There is no doubt that Shanxi is well regarded as “The Museum of Ancient Civilization” in China.
Shanxi played a vital role during imperial China. Because of its unique geographical location, Gu Zuyu, a man of the Qing Dynasty, pointed out in the Essentials of Historical Geography “to change the situation of the world, one must seize Shanxi”. In Jin and Yuan period, Shanxi was situated in the leading role both economically and culturally in north China.
Shanxi merchants, especially the ones who created the first bank system (piaohao) in China, constituted a historical phenomenon that lasted for centuries. The development of commerce in Shanxi peaked during the Ming and Qing dynasties with bankers dominating China’s financial market for almost 500 years. Shanxi merchants celebrated “honesty” and “unity” as their core values, which left China with a rich commercial culture heritages as well as variety of architecture, such as the Qiao Family Compound, Wang Family Compound and Rishengchang Financial House within Pingyao Ancient City.
Shanxi cuisine also has its unique features, especially the huge variety of wheat and buckwheat noodles which constitutes a very important part of China's food culture. In written history, Shanxi noodles enjoy more than 2,000 years of history and has more than 280 different types.