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Cityview Datong Shanxi.jpg
Datong Shanhua Si 2013.08.29 13-19-10.jpg
Datong Huayan Si 2013.08.29 09-58-58.jpg
Datong 14 grotta.jpg
Tower in Lingyan Temple, Yungang Grottoes.jpg
Datong Wenmiao 2013.08.29 11-59-31.jpg
Datong Guandi Miao 2013.08.29 10-44-56.jpg
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From top down, left to right: Datong panorama; Shanhua Temple; Huayan Temple; Yungang Grottoes; Tower at Lingyan Temple; Temple of Confucius (Wenmiao); Guandi Temple; Yinghui Gate of the City Wall
Location of Datong Prefecture within Shanxi (China).png
Location of Datong City jurisdiction in Shanxi
China Shanxi adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of the city center in Shanxi
Coordinates(Datong municipal government): 40°05′49″N113°22′01″E / 40.097°N 113.367°E / 40.097; 113.367 Coordinates: 40°05′49″N113°22′01″E / 40.097°N 113.367°E / 40.097; 113.367
CountryPeople's Republic of China
Province Shanxi
Municipal seat Pingcheng District
  Type Prefecture-level city
  Party Secretary Zhang Jifu
   Prefecture-level city 14,176 km2 (5,473 sq mi)
130.20 km2 (50.27 sq mi)
   Districts [1] 2,080.0 km2 (803.1 sq mi)
1,042 m (3,419 ft)
 (2010 census)
   Prefecture-level city 3,318,057
  Density230/km2 (610/sq mi)
  Urban density9,700/km2 (25,000/sq mi)
  Districts [1]
Time zone UTC+8 (China Standard)
Postal code
Area code(s) 0352
ISO 3166 code CN-SX-02
License Plates 晋B
Administrative division code 140200
Website dt.gov.cn
Chinese 大同
Literal meaningGreat Unity
Great Togetherness
Former names
Traditional Chinese 平城
Simplified Chinese 平城
Literal meaningPeaceful City  County
Pacified City County
Chinese 西京
Literal meaningWestern Capital

Datong is a prefecture-level city in northern Shanxi Province in the People's Republic of China. It is located in the Datong Basin at an elevation of 1,040 metres (3,410 ft) and borders Inner Mongolia to the north and west and Hebei to the east. It had a population of 3,318,057 during the 2010 census, of whom 1,629,035 lived in the built-up area made of the three urban districts of Chengqu, Kuangqu and Nanjiao.



The Nine-Dragon Wall Datong jiulongbi.jpg
The Nine-Dragon Wall
The Drum Tower (Gu Lou ) Datong bell tower.JPG
The Drum Tower (鼓楼)

The area of present-day Datong was close to the state of Dai, which was conquered by the Zhao clan of Jin in 457 BC. It was a frontier land between the agricultural Chinese and the nomads of the Great Steppe. The area was well known for its trade in horses.

Pingcheng County formed part of the Qin commandery of Yanmen. [2] It continued under the Han, who founded a site within present-day Datong in 200 BC following their victory against the Xiongnu nomads at the Battle of Baideng. Located near a pass to Inner Mongolia along the Great Wall, Pingcheng blossomed during the following period and became a stop-off point for camel caravans moving from China into Mongolia and beyond. It was sacked at the end of the Eastern Han. Pingcheng became the capital of Northern Wei from AD 398–494. The Yungang Grottoes were constructed during the later part of this period (460–494). During the mid to late 520s, Pingcheng was the seat of Northern Wei's Dai Commandery. [3]

The city was renamed Datong in 1048. It was the Xijing ("Western Capital") of the Jurchen Jin dynasty prior to being sacked by the Mongols. It was sacked again at the end of the Ming in 1649, but promptly rebuilt in 1652.

By 1982 a portion of its city walls remained so it became one of the National Historical and Cultural Cities that year. Prior to 2008, about 100,000 people lived in the old city. In 2008 mayor Geng Yanbo decided to redevelop much of the inner city, with over 3 square kilometres (1.2 sq mi) being redeveloped, and with Geng becoming known as the "Demolition Mayor". Geng and his group anticipated that 30,000 to 50,000 people would remain in the old city.

In 2013 Geng left his position. Su Jiede of Sixth Tone wrote that much of the city was still under construction at the time and that Geng's efforts resulted in "a half-finished city center and a complicated legacy" and that "To critics, the city had spent enormous sums of money without much to show for it." [4] By 2020 the population of the old city was below 30,000 and there were fewer governmental facilities available for the residents. That year Su stated that the old city "still presents a headache for the local government." [4]


Su Jiede wrote that since Pingcheng District, which had most of its urbanized area, had 807,000 people as of 2020, "Datong is a small city by Chinese standards". [4]


The Yungang Grottoes. Yun Gang Shi Ku .JPG
The Yungang Grottoes.

Datong is the northernmost city of Shanxi, and is located in the Datong Basin, with an administrative area spanning latitude 39° 03'–40° 44' N and longitude 112° 34'–114° 33' E. The urban area is surrounded on three sides by mountains, with passes only to the east and southwest. Within the prefecture-level city elevations generally increase from southeast to northwest. Datong borders Ulanqab (Inner Mongolia) to the northwest and Zhangjiakou (Hebei) to the east, Shuozhou (Shanxi) to the southwest and Xinzhou (Shanxi) to the south.

The well-known Datong Volcanic Arc lies nearby in the Datong Basin.

It is 250 kilometres (160 mi) west of Beijing. [4]


Datong has a continental, monsoon-influenced steppe climate (Köppen BSk), influenced by the 1,000 metres (3,300 ft)+ elevation, with rather long, cold, very dry winters, and very warm summers. Monthly mean temperatures range from −10.5 °C (13.1 °F) in January to 22.6 °C (72.7 °F) in July; the annual mean temperature is 7.33 °C (45.2 °F). Due to the aridity and elevation, diurnal temperature variation is often large, averaging 13.2 °C (23.8 °F) annually. There barely is any precipitation during winter, and more than 34 of the annual precipitation occurs from June to September. With monthly percent possible sunshine ranging from 54% in July to 66% in October, sunshine is abundant year-round, and the city receives 2,671 hours (about 60% of the possible total) of bright sunshine per year.

Climate data for Datong (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1951–2010)
Record high °C (°F)11.2
Average high °C (°F)−3.4
Daily mean °C (°F)−10.5
Average low °C (°F)−16.4
Record low °C (°F)−31.1
Average precipitation mm (inches)1.7
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)
Average relative humidity (%)53464238404962676154515251
Mean monthly sunshine hours 184.1189.4222.3243.5272.5265.7244.8233.9234.6226.8185.8167.52,670.9
Percent possible sunshine 62636062625954556366625861
Source: China Meteorological Administration (precipitation days and sunshine 1971–2000) [5] [6] [7]

Administrative divisions

Map including Datong (labeled as Da Tong 
TA-T'UNG (walled)) (AMS, 1963) Txu-oclc-10552568-nk49-12.jpg
Map including Datong (labeled as 大同 TA-T'UNG (walled)) (AMS, 1963)
NameSimplified Chinese [8] [9] Pinyin Population
(2003 est.)[ citation needed ] [10]
Area (km²) [11] Density
Pingcheng District 平城区Píngchéng Qū580,0002462,358
Yungang District 云冈区Yúngāng Qū280,000684409
Xinrong District 新荣区Xīnróng Qū110,0001,102109
Yunzhou District 云州区Yúnzhōu Qū170,0001,501113
Yanggao County 阳高县Yánggāo Xiàn290,0001,678173
Tianzhen County 天镇县Tiānzhèn Xiàn210,0001,635128
Guangling County 广灵县Guǎnglíng Xiàn180,0001,283140
Lingqiu County 灵丘县Língqiū Xiàn230,0002,72085
Hunyuan County 浑源县Húnyuán Xiàn350,0001,965178
Zuoyun County 左云县Zuǒyún Xiàn140,0001,314107


The Yungang Grottoes are a collection of shallow caves located 16 km (9.9 mi) west of Datong. There are over 50,000 carved images and statues of Buddhas and bodhisattvas within these grottoes, ranging from 4 centimeters to 7 meters tall. Most of these icons are around 1000 years old.

Within the city itself, there are a few surviving sites of historical interest such as the Nine-Dragon Wall, the Huayan Monastery (华严寺; Huáyán Sì), and the Shanhua Temple. Further afield is the Hanging Temple built into a cliff face near Mount Heng. Most of the historical sites in this region date to the Tang and Ming dynasties, but the Hanging Temple dates to the Northern Wei dynasty (386–534).

The railway locomotive works (see below) began to attract increasing numbers of railway enthusiasts from the 1970s. When construction of steam locomotives was phased out, the authorities did not want to lose this valuable tourism market, and pondered the possibility of developing a steam railway operating centre as an attraction. A number of study visits were undertaken to the East Lancashire Railway at Bury, and a twinning arrangement was concluded with that town.

In 2010, work began on reconstructing the city's 14th century Ming dynasty defensive wall. The controversial reconstruction project was in its final phase at the end of 2014. [12] The documentary The Chinese Mayor [13] documents two years of vigorous and highly controversial (due to summary demolition of about 200,000 homes) effort by Mayor Geng Yanbo to push the reconstruction project forward.


The GDP per capita was ¥17,852 (US$2,570) per annum in 2008, ranked no. 242 among 659 Chinese cities. Coal mining is the dominant industry of Datong. Its history and development are very much linked to this commodity.

Development zones Datong Economic and Technological Development Zone

Due to its strategic position it is also an important distribution and warehousing center for Shanxi, Hebei and Inner Mongolia. [14]

Datong is an old fashioned coal mining city, and still sits on significant reserves of this commodity. Consequently, it has developed a reputation as one of China's most polluted cities. The Datong Coal Mining Group is based here and is China's third largest such enterprise. Datong is indeed however an emerging economy, as the city seeks to loosen its dependence on coal, introduce more environmentally friendly and efficient methods of extraction and move into other areas of business services. Local government has continued to upgrade its pillar coal sector (and related industries like coal chemicals, power and metallurgy), while also developing "substitute industries" such as machinery manufacturing, tourism and distribution, warehousing and logistics services. This has had some impact. Datong's GDP grew by 5.1 percent in 2008 to RMB56.6 billion. [15]

While coal will continue to dominate, Datong has been identified as one of the key cities requiring redevelopment, with part of this being in environmental cleanup, rehabilitation and industrial refocusing. Datong is a pilot city for rehabilitation studies following years of pollution. To this end it has already struck up strong relationships with other cities worldwide with similar backgrounds, and has begun plans, for example, to develop a tourism base focused on steam engine technology with antique locomotives to be used along designated tracks. [16]

Datong has a large railway locomotive works 'Datong locomotive factory', where the 'Aiming Higher'[ clarification needed ] class of steam locomotive was built as late as the 1970s, steam locomotive production ended in the late 1980s and the plants main products (as of 2010) is main line electric locomotives

Main enterprises



Colleges and universities

Major schools

See also

Related Research Articles

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Shanxi Province in North China

Shanxi is a landlocked province of the People's Republic of China, and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of the province 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.

Taiyuan Prefecture-level city in Shanxi, Peoples Republic of China

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Datong (大同市) is a prefecture-level city in Shanxi province, China.

Yungang Grottoes

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Datong Yungang Airport

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Further reading