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Home Chinese Cities and Province Information Hunan Province

China City and Province Information
Hunan Province

Hunan Province

location of Hunan Province
Location of Hunan Province

Area:   211,800 square km
Population:   65 million (2006)
Capital City:   Changsha
Local Time  
Geography of Hunan Province

Hunan Province is located in the southern part of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River. Since it lies to the south of Dongting Lake, the second largest fresh water lake in China, it was given the name Hu-nan (literally meaning south of the lake). As the Xiangjiang River runs through the province from north to south, it has been shortened to Xiang. Hunan has a total area of 211,800 square km. a population of 65 million (2006), and is home to the Tujia, Miao, Yao, Dong, Bai, Hui and Zhuang ethnic groups. The province governs 12 cities at the prefectural level, 11 administrative offices and one autonomous prefecture. The provincial capital is Changsha.


Climate of Hunan Province
Hunan is in the continental sub-tropical monsoon humid climate zone. It has a short winter and a long frost-free-period. The sunshine lasts for a long period during the day and the four seasons are clearly distinguished. The annual average temperature is 16-18 C (60.8F - 64.4F), and the annual average rainfall is between 1,200 and 1,700 mm. The best tourism season is in fall, but traveling is pleasant from April to November.


Brief History of Hunan Province
Hunan has a long history, with abundant products, beautiful scenery and many places of interest. The historical and cultural cities of Changsha and Yueyang are located in the province. Also, there are 25 tourism areas at the State or provincial level, 22 nature reserves at or above the provincial level, 51 ancient or memorial buildings and more than 70 relics, ancient tombs or tablet inscriptions. Hunan is also the home of many famous communist leaders, including Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi and Hu Yaobang. Lots of tourists come here to track down their stories.
Hunan Local Products

Hunan is "a land of fish and rice", teeming with delicacies, fruits and handicrafts of every kind. Its embroidery is know across the country and the ammonite stone carvings are famous throughout the world. Both artistic forms have won favor with tourists. Travels can not only taste the delicious Hunan dishes, but can also enjoy colorful festivals with minority nationalities. Various kinds of folk art are demonstrated here.

Hunan Local Cuisine
As one of the eight regional cuisines of China, Xiang, or Hunan, cuisine has evolved from the three local styles of the Xiang River region, Dongting Lake and western Hunan Province.

It is popular for hot spicy and sour flavors, fresh aromas and deep color, as well as sophisticated cooking and cutting techniques.

Common cooking methods include stewing, frying, pot-roasting, braising and smoking.

Ingredients used in Hunan dishes are many and varied due to the region's high agricultural output.

Xiang cuisine master chef Xu Yunju has defined authentic Hunan cuisine as "a hundred courses (with) a hundred tastes and each dish (with) a distinguished flavor. Elegant cutting, dainty cooking."

Actually, Xiang cuisine has a long history of over 2,000 years and probably dates back as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220).

Relics unearthed from a Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24) tomb in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, are evidence of local people's early cooking of various dishes: not only the bones of fish, pigs and cows but also pickled fruits and vegetables.

Located in central and south China, the region has distinctive seasons, abundant rainfall and plenty of sunshine which have all contributed to the development of Hunan cuisine.

Ross Terrill, the renowned Harvard professor, once described Hunan as "an abundant and fertile inland province which has been honored as 'the land of rice and fish'." He added that the people are straightforward.

The heavy style and hot flavors of the cuisine reflect the resource-rich land and the bold and unrestrained character of Hunan people. Their addiction to spicy food can be attributed to the region's wet climate.

People believe that the chili spice is effective in getting rid of the affects of humidity and rheumatic afflictions and is also important in stimulating the appetite.

If you visit the Dong and Miao ethnic people in Hunan Province they usually welcome you with a dish of stewed meat cooked with dried chili. During a meal, they will warmly invite you to take more chili rather than meat, a clear indication of their passion for the hot seasoning.

Actually people in China's western and southern areas are all keen on spicy food. The differences are that Sichuan people prefer hot and numbing food, Guizhou people usually like aromatic and hot, Yunnan people have a crush on pure spicy, Shaanxi people focus on salty and spicy) and Hunan people are more interested in dry spicy and sour spicy.

As opposed to other spicy cuisines around the country, Xiang (Hunan)cuisine is known for being dry hot or purely hot thanks to its liberal use of chili peppers, shallots and garlic, and the technique of pickling.

Hunan cuisine is often spicier purely due to chili content, contains a larger variety of fresh ingredients, tends to be oilier, and is said to be purer and simpler in taste.

Another characteristic distinguishing Hunan cuisine from other spicy cuisines is that, in general, it uses smoked and cured goods in its dishes much more frequently.

In recent years, Hunan cuisine has become popular among foreign people, especially those from European, American and South-east Asian regions.

In the United States, some Hunan-style restaurants display paintings of huge chilis on their outdoor signs and their waiter aprons are embroidered with chili motifs.

Former US President George W. Bush also put chou doufu (stinky tofu), one of the most distinguished Hunan snacks, on his list of must-tries.

It is not possible to discuss this cuisine without mentioning the late Chairman Mao Zedong, a Shaoshan native of Hunan Province who never lost his love for the local spicy cuisine. His hometown food style is original Xiang homemade dishes from the Shaoshan mountain area. His favorites - braised pork, fried bitter melon with chili and loach toufu - are all signature dishes of the style.

When former US President Richard Nixon visited China in 1972, Mao ordered signature Hunan-style dishes, including braised pork, to be on the banquet menu.

(Source of this section: Shanghai Daily 2010-05)
Places of Interests and Tourist Attractions in Hunan
  • Hunan -- hometown of former Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong, has become one of the new hot tourist destinations in China.
  • The old town of Phoenix is like an impressive community living on the banks of the Tuojiang River. The unique lifestyle has long fascinated visitors, as has the town's enchanting scenery and peaceful atmosphere. It's free to enter the old town but some cultural relic buildings and notable residents' homes still have admission charges.
    (source: China Internet Information Center)


 Hunan  Useful Links and Sites


 Hunan  Related Report Links
 China's Administrative Divisions
4 Municipalities

23 Provinces

5 Autonomous Regions

2 Special Administrative Regions (SAR)

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