Last updated

Name transcription(s)
  Chinese甘肃省 (Gānsù Shěng)
  AbbreviationGS / or (pinyin: Gān / Lǒng)
Hoodoos at Zhangye Danxia.jpg
Dunhuang Mogao Ku 2013.12.31 12-30-18.jpg
Jiayu Guan 2014.01.01 11-03-14.jpg
Crescent Moon Lake (23889572731).jpg
Lan Zhou Zhong Shan Qiao Ye Jian Bei He An .jpg
(clockwise from top)
Gansu in China (+all claims hatched).svg
Map showing the location of Gansu Province
Coordinates: 38°N102°E / 38°N 102°E / 38; 102 Coordinates: 38°N102°E / 38°N 102°E / 38; 102
Country China
Named for gān: Ganzhou District, Zhangye
/: Suzhou District, Jiuquan
(and largest city)
Divisions14 prefectures, 86 counties, 1344 townships
  Type Province
  BodyGansu Provincial People's Congress
   CCP Secretary Hu Changsheng
  Congress chairmanHu Changsheng
   Governor Ren Zhenhe
   CPPCC chairmanZhuang Guotai
  Total453,700 km2 (175,200 sq mi)
  Rank 7th
Highest elevation5,830 m (19,130 ft)
 (2020) [1]
  Rank 22nd
  Density55/km2 (140/sq mi)
   Rank 27th
  Ethnic composition Han: 91%
Hui: 5%
Dongxiang: 2%
Tibetan: 2%
  Languages and dialects Zhongyuan Mandarin, Lanyin Mandarin, Amdo Tibetan
ISO 3166 code CN-GS
GDP (2020) CNY 1.024 billion
USD 159 billion (31st) [3]
 - per capita CNY 41,137
USD 6,375 (32nd)
 • growthIncrease2.svg 6.9%
HDI (2019)Increase2.svg 0.687 [4]
medium · 29th
(Simplified Chinese)

Gansu is divided into fourteen prefecture-level divisions: twelve prefecture-level cities and two autonomous prefectures:

Gansu (Chinese characters).svg
"Gansu" in Simplified (top) and Traditional (bottom) Chinese characters
Administrative divisions of Gansu
Division code [27] DivisionArea in km2 [28] Population 2010 [29] SeatDivisions [30]
Districts Counties Aut. counties CL cities
620000Gansu Province425800.0025,575,254 Lanzhou city175874
620100 Lanzhou city13,103.043,616,163 Chengguan District 53
620200 Jiayuguan city*2,935.00231,853 Shengli Subdistrict
620300 Jinchang city7,568.84464,050 Jinchuan District 11
620400 Baiyin city20,164.091,708,751 Baiyin District 23
620500 Tianshui city14,312.133,262,548 Qinzhou District 241
620600 Wuwei city32,516.911,815,054 Liangzhou District 121
620700 Zhangye city39,436.541,199,515 Ganzhou District 141
620800 Pingliang city11,196.712,068,033 Kongtong District 16
620900 Jiuquan city193,973.781,095,947 Suzhou District 1222
621000 Qingyang city27,219.712,211,191 Xifeng District 17
621100 Dingxi city19,646.142,698,622 Anding District 16
621200 Longnan city27,856.692,567,718 Wudu District 18
622900 Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture 8,116.571,946,677 Linxia city521
623000 Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture 38,311.56689,132 Hezuo city71
* – direct-piped cities – does not contain any county-level divisions

The fourteen Prefecture of Gansu are subdivided into 82 county-level divisions (17 districts, 4 county-level cities, 58 counties, and 3 autonomous counties).

Urban areas

Population by urban areas of prefecture & county cities
#CityUrban area [31] District area [31] City proper [31] Census date
1 Lanzhou 2,438,5952,628,4263,616,1632010-11-01
2 Tianshui 544,4411,197,1743,262,5492010-11-01
3 Baiyin 362,363486,7991,708,7522010-11-01
4 Wuwei 331,3701,010,2951,815,0592010-11-01
5 Jiuquan 255,739428,3461,095,9472010-11-01
6 Pingliang 248,421504,8482,068,0332010-11-01
7 Linxia 220,895274,466part of Linxia Prefecture 2010-11-01
8 Zhangye 216,760507,4331,199,5152010-11-01
9 Jiayuguan 216,362231,853231,8532010-11-01
10 Jinchang 195,409228,561464,0502010-11-01
11 Qingyang 181,780377,5282,211,1912010-11-01
12 Dingxi 158,062420,6142,698,6242010-11-01
13 Longnan 136,468555,0042,567,7182010-11-01
14 Dunhuang 111,535186,027see Jiuquan2010-11-01
(15) Huating [lower-alpha 1] 88,454189,333see Pingliang2010-11-01
16 Yumen 78,940159,792see Jiuquan2010-11-01
17 Hezuo 57,38490,290see Gannan Prefecture 2010-11-01
  1. Huating County is currently known as Huating CLC after census.


Gates of the provincial government complex in Lanzhou Gansu Government.jpg
Gates of the provincial government complex in Lanzhou

Secretaries of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Gansu Committee: The Secretary of the CCP Gansu Committee is the highest-ranking office within Gansu Province. [32]

  1. Zhang Desheng (张德生): 1949–1954
  2. Zhang Zhongliang (张仲良): 1954–1961
  3. Wang Feng (汪锋): 1961–1966
  4. Hu Jizong (胡继宗): 1966–1967
  5. Xian Henghan (冼恒汉): 1970–1977
  6. Song Ping (宋平): 1977–1981
  7. Feng Jixin (冯纪新): 1981–1983
  8. Li Ziqi (李子奇): 1983–1990
  9. Gu Jinchi (顾金池): 1990–1993
  10. Yan Haiwang (阎海旺): 1993–1998
  11. Sun Ying (孙英): 1998–2001
  12. Song Zhaosu (宋照肃): 2001–2003
  13. Su Rong (苏荣): 2003–2007
  14. Lu Hao (陆浩): April 2007 − December 2011
  15. Wang Sanyun (王三运): December 2011 − March 2017
  16. Lin Duo (林铎): March 2017 − March 2021
  17. Yin Hong (尹弘): March 2021 − December 2022
  18. Hu Changsheng (胡昌升): December 2022 - present

Governors of Gansu: The Governorship of Gansu is the second highest-ranking official within Gansu, behind the Secretary of the CPC Gansu Committee. [32] The governor is responsible for all issues related to economics, personnel, political initiatives, the environment and the foreign affairs of the province. [32] The Governor is appointed by the Gansu Provincial People's Congress, which is the province's legislative body. [32]

  1. Wang Shitai (王世泰): 1949–1950
  2. Deng Baoshan (邓宝姗): 1950–1967
  3. Xian Henghan (冼恒汉): 1967–1977
  4. Song Ping (宋平): 1977–1979
  5. Feng Jixin (冯纪新): 1979–1981
  6. Li Dengying (李登瀛): 1981–1983
  7. Chen Guangyi (陈光毅): 1983–1986
  8. Jia Zhijie (贾志杰): 1986–1993
  9. Yan Haiwang (阎海旺): 1993
  10. Zhang Wule (张吾乐): 1993–1996
  11. Sun Ying (孙英): 1996–1998
  12. Song Zhaosu (宋照肃): 1998–2001
  13. Lu Hao (陆浩): 2001–2006
  14. Xu Shousheng (徐守盛): January 2007 – July 2010 [32]
  15. Liu Weiping (刘伟平): July 2010 – April 2016
  16. Lin Duo (林铎): April 2016 – April 2017
  17. Tang Renjian (唐仁健): April 2017−December 2020
  18. Ren Zhenhe (任振鹤): December 2020-present


Despite recent growth in Gansu and the booming economy in the rest of China, Gansu is still considered to be one of the poorest provinces in China. For several years, it has ranked as one of the provinces with lowest GDP per capita. [33] Its nominal GDP for 2017 was about 767.7 billion yuan (US$113.70 billion) and per capita of 29,326 RMB (US$4,343). The province also has a large difference in wealth between regions and urban versus rural areas. The poorest areas are Dingxi, Longnan, Gannan and Linxia. [34] According to analysts, the local economy failed to gather momentum while other provinces did manage to increase their economic growth. [33]


Farmland in Linxia 5920-Dongxiang-County-Daxiahe-valley-fields-seen-from-Linxia-County.jpg
Farmland in Linxia

Due to poor natural conditions such as aridness, Gansu is one of the Chinese provinces with smallest per capita area of arable land. [34] Agricultural production includes cotton, linseed oil, maize, melons (such as the honeydew melon, known locally as the Bailan melon, millet, and wheat.[ citation needed ] Gansu is known as a source for wild medicinal herbs which are used in Chinese medicine. However, pollution by heavy metals, such as cadmium in irrigation water, has resulted in the poisoning of many acres of agricultural land. The extent and nature of the heavy metal pollution is considered a state secret. [35]


The industrial sector in Gansu was developed after completion of the Longhai railway in 1953 and blueprinted in the first five-year plan of China. [36] Until 2014, the industrial sector contributed the most to Gansu's economy. [34] The most important industries are petrochemicals, non-ferrous metallurgy, machinery and electronics. The province is also an important base for wind and solar power. [36] As a result of environmental protection policies, the industry sector is not growing. [37] The manufacturing sector has been shrinking for several years and has low investment numbers. [33]

According to some sources,[ who? ] the province is also a center of China's nuclear industry.

As stipulated in the country's 12th Five Year Plan, the local government of Gansu hopes to grow the province's GDP by 10% annually by focusing investments on five pillar industries: renewable energy, coal, chemicals, nonferrous metals, pharmaceuticals and services.[ citation needed ]


A large part of Gansu's economy is based on mining and the extraction of minerals, [38] especially rare earth elements. The province has significant deposits of antimony, chromium, coal, cobalt, copper, fluorite, gypsum, iridium, iron, lead, limestone, mercury, mirabilite, nickel, crude oil, platinum, troilite, tungsten, and zinc among others. The oil fields at Yumen and Changqing are considered significant.

Gansu has China's largest nickel deposits accounting for over 90% of China's total nickel reserves. [36]


Shopping mall in Lanzhou Lan Zhou Zhong Xin Qi Li He Qu .jpg
Shopping mall in Lanzhou

Since 2014, the service sector is the largest economic sector of Gansu. [34] Tourism is a sector that is becoming of increased importance. [37]

Economic and technological development zones

The following economic and technological zones are situated in Gansu:


Lanzhou city Lanzhou-037.JPG
Lanzhou city
Historical population
1912 [41] 4,990,000    
1928 [42] 6,281,000+25.9%
1936–37 [43] 6,716,000+6.9%
1947 [44] 7,091,000+5.6%
1954 [45] 12,928,102+82.3%
1964 [46] 12,630,569−2.3%
1982 [47] 19,569,261+54.9%
1990 [48] 22,371,141+14.3%
2000 [49] 25,124,282+12.3%
2010 [50] 25,575,254+1.8%
2020 [51] 25,019,831−2.2%
Ningxia Province/AR was part of Gansu Province until 1929 and 1954–1958.

Gansu province is home to a little less than 25 million people. 73% of the population was rural, but much relocation in recent years has reduced this. Gansu is 92% Han and also has Hui, Tibetan, Dongxiang, Tu, Uyghurs, Yugur, Bonan, Mongolian, Salar and Kazakh minorities. Gansu province's community of Chinese Hui Muslims was bolstered by Hui Muslims resettled from Shaanxi province during the Dungan Revolt. Gansu is also a historical home, along with Shaanxi, of the dialect of the Dungans, who migrated to Central Asia. The southwestern corner of Gansu is home to a large ethnic Tibetan population. Modern Gansu is dominated by Lanzhou city and Linxia Hui prefectures, their growth hides the stark fact that much of the rest is rapidly losing population.


Most of the inhabitants of Gansu speak dialects of Northern Mandarin Chinese. On the border areas of Gansu one might encounter Tu, Tibetan, Mongolian, Uyghur and the Kazakh language. Most of the minorities also speak Chinese.


A unique variety of Chinese folk music popularly identified with the local peoples of Gansu include the "Hua'er" (flowery melodies) , and is popular among the Han and nine ethnic groups of Gansu. [52] The cuisine of Gansu is based on the staple crops grown there: wheat, barley, millet, beans, and sweet potatoes. Within China, Gansu is known for its lamian (pulled noodles), and Muslim restaurants which feature authentic Gansu cuisine.


Religion in Gansu (2012) [53]

  Non-religious and traditional faiths (88%)
   Buddhism (8.2%)
   Islam (3.4%)
   Protestantism (0.4%)
   Catholicism (0.1%)

According to a 2012 survey [53] around 12% of the population of Gansu belongs to organised religions, the largest groups being Buddhists with 8.2%, followed by Muslims with 3.4%, Protestants with 0.4% and Catholics with 0.1%. Around 88% of the population may be either irreligious or involved in Chinese folk religion, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and folk religious sects.

Muslim restaurants are common, and feature typical Chinese dishes, but without any pork products, and instead an emphasis on lamb and mutton. Gansu has many works of Buddhist art, including the Maijishan Grottoes. Dunhuang was a major centre of Buddhism in the Middle Ages.


A painting of the Buddhist Manjushri, from the Yulin Caves of Gansu, Tangut-led Western Xia dynasty (1038-1227 AD) Yulin Cave 3 w wall Manjusri (Western Xia).jpg
A painting of the Buddhist Manjushri, from the Yulin Caves of Gansu, Tangut-led Western Xia dynasty (1038–1227 AD)
These rammed earth ruins of a granary in Hecang Fortress (Chinese:
He Cang Cheng ;; pinyin: Hecangcheng), located ~11 km (7 miles) northeast of the Western-Han-era Yumen Pass, were built during the Western Han (202 BC - 9 AD) and significantly rebuilt during the Western Jin (280-316 AD). Han Dynasty Granary west of Dunhuang.jpg
These rammed earth ruins of a granary in Hecang Fortress (Chinese :河仓城;; pinyin :Hécāngchéng), located ~11 km (7 miles) northeast of the Western-Han-era Yumen Pass, were built during the Western Han (202 BC – 9 AD) and significantly rebuilt during the Western Jin (280–316 AD).

Jiayuguan Pass of the Great Wall

Jiayuguan Pass, in Jiayuguan city, is the largest and most intact pass, or entrance, of the Great Wall. Jiayuguan Pass was built in the early Ming dynasty, somewhere around the year 1372. It was built near an oasis that was then on the extreme western edge of China. Jiayuguan Pass was the first pass on the west end of the great wall so it earned the name "The First And Greatest Pass Under Heaven".

An extra brick is said to rest on a ledge over one of the gates. One legend holds that the official in charge asked the designer to calculate how many bricks would be used. The designer gave him the number and when the project was finished, only one brick was left. It was put on the top of the pass as a symbol of commemoration. Another account holds that the building project was assigned to a military manager and an architect. The architect presented the manager with a requisition for the total number of bricks that he would need. When the manager found out that the architect had not asked for any extra bricks, he demanded that the architect make some provision for unforeseen circumstances. The architect, taking this as an insult to his planning ability, added a single extra brick to the request. When the gate was finished, the single extra brick was, in fact, extra and was left on the ledge over the gate. [55]

Mogao Grottoes

The Mogao Grottoes near Dunhuang have a collection of Buddhist art. Originally there were a thousand grottoes, but now only 492 cave temples remain. Each temple has a large statue of a buddha or bodhisattva and paintings of religious scenes. In 336 AD, a monk named Le Zun (Lo-tsun) came near Echoing Sand Mountain, when he had a vision. He started to carve the first grotto. During the Five Dynasties period they ran out of room on the cliff and could not build any more grottoes.

Silk Road and Dunhuang City

A terracotta warrior from Gansu, with traces of polychrome and gold, from the Tang dynasty (618-907) Cernuschi Museum 20060812 156.jpg
A terracotta warrior from Gansu, with traces of polychrome and gold, from the Tang dynasty (618–907)

The historic Silk Road starts in Chang'an (present-day Xi'an) and goes to Constantinople (Istanbul). On the way merchants would go to Dunhuang in Gansu. In Dunhuang they would get fresh camels, food and guards for the journey around the dangerous Taklamakan Desert. Before departing Dunhuang they would pray to the Mogao Grottoes for a safe journey, if they came back alive they would thank the gods at the grottoes. Across the desert they would form a train of camels to protect themselves from thieving bandits. The next stop, Kashi (Kashgar), was a welcome sight to the merchants. At Kashi most would trade and go back and the ones who stayed would eat fruit and trade their Bactrian camels for single humped ones. After Kashi they would keep going until they reached their next destination.

Located about 5 km (3.1 mi) southwest of the city, the Crescent Lake or Yueyaquan is an oasis and popular spot for tourists seeking respite from the heat of the desert. Activities includes camel and 4x4 rides.

Silk Route Museum

The Silk Route Museum is located in Jiuquan along the Silk Road, a trading route connecting Rome to China, used by Marco Polo. It is also built over the tomb of the Western Liang King. [56]

Bingling Temple

Bingling Temple, or Bingling Grottoes, is a Buddhist cave complex in a canyon along the Yellow River. Begun in 420 AD during the Jin dynasty, the site contains dozens of caves and caverns filled with outstanding examples of carvings, sculpture, and frescoes. The great Maitreya Buddha is more than 27 meters tall and is similar in style to the great Buddhas that once lined the cliffs of Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Access to the site is by boat from Yongjing in the summer or fall. There is no other access point.

Labrang Monastery

Labrang Tashikyil Monastery is located in Xiahe County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, located in the southern part of Gansu, and part of the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo. It is one of the six major monasteries of the Gelukpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet, and the most important one in Amdo. Built in 1710, it is headed by the Jamyang-zhaypa. It has 6 dratsang (colleges), and houses over sixty thousand religious texts and other works of literature as well as other cultural artifacts.

Maijishan Grottoes

Maijishan Grottoes Maijishan grottoes.jpg
Maijishan Grottoes

The Maijishan Grottoes are a series of 194 caves cut in the side of the hill of Majishan in Tianshui. This example of rock cut architecture contains over 7,200 Buddhist sculptures and over 1,000 square meters of murals. Construction began in the Later Qin era (384–417 CE).


Gansu province is home to the only class A Double First Class University in China's northwest, Lanzhou University.

Colleges and universities

Natural resources

Fertile fields near Wuwei Gan Su Huang Shan Yu Wo Tu  - panoramio.jpg
Fertile fields near Wuwei



Three thousand deposits of 145 different minerals. Ninety-four minerals have been found and ascertained, including nickel, cobalt, platinum, selenium, casting clay, finishing serpentine, whose reserves are the largest in China.[ citation needed ] Gansu has advantages in getting[ clarification needed ] nickel, zinc, cobalt, platinum, iridium, copper, barite, and baudisserite.


Among Gansu's most important sources of energy are its water resources: the Yellow River and other inland river drainage basins. Gansu is placed ninth among China's provinces in annual hydropower potential and water discharge. Gansu produces 17.24 gigawatts of hydropower a year. Twenty-nine hydropower stations have been constructed in Gansu, altogether(?) capable of generating 30 gigawatts. Gansu has an estimated coal reserve of 8.92 billion tons and petroleum reserve of 700 million tons.

There is also good potential for wind and solar power development. The Gansu Wind Farm project – already producing 7.965GW in 2015 [57] – is expected to achieve 20GW by 2020, at which time it will likely become the world's biggest collective windfarm.

In November 2017 an agreement between the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Gansu government was announced, to site and begin operations of a molten salt reactor pilot project in the province by 2020. [58]

Flora and fauna

Gansu has 659 species of wild animals. [59] It has twenty-four rare animals which are under a state protection.

Gansu's mammals include some of the world's most charismatic: the giant panda, golden monkeys, lynx, snow leopards, sika deer, musk deer, and the Bactrian camel.

Among zoologists who study moles, the Gansu mole is of great interest. For a reason that can only be speculated, it is taxologically a New World mole living among Old World moles: that is to say, an American mole living in a sea of Euro-Asians.

Gansu is home to 441 species of birds; it is a center of endemism and home to many species and subspecies which occur nowhere else in the world.

Gansu is China's second-largest producer of medicinal plants and herbs, including some produced nowhere else, such as the hairy asiabell root, fritillary bulb, and Chinese caterpillar fungus.

Panorama of the lower Daxia River valley in the northeast of the Linxia County, and the loess plateau flanking in, cut by a canyon


Natural disasters

On 16 December 1920, Gansu witnessed the deadliest landslide ever recorded. A series of landslides, triggered by a single earthquake, accounted for most of the 180,000 people killed in the event. [60]

Anti-desertification project

The Asian Development Bank is working with the State Forestry Administration of China on the Silk Road Ecosystem Restoration Project, designed to prevent degradation and desertification in Gansu. It is estimated to cost up to US$150 million.

Space launch center

The Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, located in the Gobi desert, is named after the city of Jiuquan, Gansu, the nearest city, although the center itself is in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

See also

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Western China is the west of China. In the definition of the Chinese government, Western China covers one municipality (Chongqing), six provinces, and three autonomous regions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Xifeng District</span> County in Gansu, Peoples Republic of China

Xifeng District is a district and the seat of the city of Qingyang in Gansu Province, China. It has an area of 996 km2 (385 sq mi) and a population of 376,800 in 2019.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Min County</span> County in Gansu, Peoples Republic of China

Min County or Minxian is administratively under the control of the prefecture-level city of Dingxi, in the south of Gansu province, China. In ancient times, it was known as Lintao County due to its location along the Tao River. It was founded as Minzhou (岷州) in 544, named after the Min Mountains in the south of the county. The county received its present name in 1913. In 1985 it became subordinate to Dingxi. Min county is well known by Angelica sinensis which is a Chinese traditional medicine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jingyuan County, Gansu</span> County in Gansu, Peoples Republic of China

Jingyuan County is a county in the east of Gansu Province. It is under the administration of Baiyin City, and consists of two separate tracts of territory to the north and south of Pingchuan District. The northern tract borders Ningxia to the north. The southern area consists of an irrigated area around the Yellow River and the northern area is semi-arid highlands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yuzhong County</span> County in Gansu, Peoples Republic of China

Yuzhong County is a county of Gansu Province, China, it is under the administration of the prefecture-level city of Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu, one of 58 counties of Gansu. Its postal code is 730100, and its population in 2019 was 560,000 people.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Guazhou County</span> County in Gansu, Peoples Republic of China

Guazhou County, formerly Anxi County or Ansichow, is a county in the northwest of Gansu province, the People's Republic of China. It is under the administration of Jiuquan City.


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