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Lavender and afterglow in Zhangye
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Location of Zhangye City jurisdiction in Gansu
China Gansu adm location map.svg
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Location of the city center in Gansu
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Zhangye (China)
Coordinates(Zhangye municipal government): 38°55′29″N100°27′00″E / 38.9248°N 100.4499°E / 38.9248; 100.4499 Coordinates: 38°55′29″N100°27′00″E / 38.9248°N 100.4499°E / 38.9248; 100.4499
Country People's Republic of China
Province Gansu
Municipal seat Ganzhou District
  Total42,000 km2 (16,000 sq mi)
 (2010) [1]
Time zone UTC+8 (China Standard)
Postal code
ISO 3166 code CN-GS-07
Website www.zhangye.gov.cn
Dafosi - This hall contains the largest reclining wooden Bhudda in China.JPG
The Dafo Temple, site of the largest reclining Buddha in China.
Traditional Chinese 張掖
Simplified Chinese 张掖
Postal Changyeh
Former names
Chinese 甘州
Literal meaningSweet [Spring(s)] Prefecture

Zhangye, formerly romanised as Changyeh or known as Kanchow, is a prefecture-level city in central Gansu Province in the People's Republic of China. It borders Inner Mongolia on the north and Qinghai on the south. Its central district is Ganzhou, formerly a city of the Western Xia and one of the most important outposts of western China.



The city was formerly also known as Ganzhou, named after the sweet waters (Chinese :甘泉; pinyin :Gānquán) of its oasis. An alternative theory states that "Gan" was from the Ganjun Hill (绀峻山) near the city. The name of province came from a contraction of Ganzhou and Suzhou (modern Jiuquan). The name appears in Marco Polo's Travels under the name Campichu. [2]

Zhangye Commandery was established in 111 BC, with the seat at the site of modern Wuwei, Gansu. Etymology of Zhangye is unclear. A popular theory interprets the name Zhangye as "Extending Arm", excerpted from a phrase "to extend the arm of the country through to the Western Realm" (张国臂掖,以通西域) documented in Han Shu . [3]


"Can-tcheou" and other "second-order" towns of Shaan-Gan from Du Halde's 1736 Description of China, based on reports from Jesuit missionaries Du Halde - Description de la Chine - Villes de second ordre de la province de Chensi.jpg
"Can-tcheou" and other "second-order" towns of Shaan-Gan from Du Halde's 1736 Description of China , based on reports from Jesuit missionaries

Zhangye lies in the centre of the Hexi Corridor. The area is on the frontier of China Proper, protecting it from the nomads of the northwest and permitting its armies access to the Tarim Basin. During the Han Dynasty, Chinese armies were often engaged against the Xiongnu in this area. It was also an important outpost on the Silk Road.[ citation needed ] Before being over-run by the Mongols, it was dominated by the Western Xia, and before by the Uyghurs from at least the early 10th century. Its relation to the larger Uyghur state of Qocho is obscure, but it may have been a vassal. [4]

The Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan is said to have been born in the Dafo Temple, Zhangye, now the site of the longest wooden reclining Buddha in China.[ citation needed ] Marco Polo's journal states that he spent a year in the town during his journey to China. [2]

The pine forests of the Babao Mountains (part of the Qilian range) formerly regulated the flow of the Ruo or Hei Shui, Ganzhou's primary river. By ensuring that the melt-waters lasted throughout the summer, they avoided both early flood and later drought for the valley's farmers. Despite recommendations that they should thus be protected in perpetuity, an imperial official in charge of erecting the poles for China's telegraph network ordered them cleared in the 1880s. Almost immediately, the region became prone to flooding in the summer and draught in the autumn, arousing local resentment. [5]

Christian missionaries arrived in 1879, after Suzhou was found to be too hostile for their settlement. [6]


Zhangye has one urban district, four counties, one autonomous county, 97 towns, and 978 villages.


Note: Shandan Horseground is part of Shandan County.
#Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Population
Area (km²)Density
1 Ganzhou District 甘州区Gānzhōu Qū507,4334,240120
2 Minle County 民乐县Mínlè Xiàn219,3563,68759.5
3 Linze County 临泽县Línzé Xiàn134,3282,77748.4
4 Gaotai County 高台县Gāotái Xiàn143,4464,31233.3
5 Shandan County 山丹县Shāndān Xiàn161,2995,40230
6 Sunan Yugur Autonomous County 肃南裕固族自治县Sùnán Yùgùzú


Zhangye is located in central Gansu along the Hexi Corridor, occupying 42,000 km2 (16,000 sq mi). It takes up the entire breadth of the province, running from Inner Mongolia on the north to Qinghai on the south, but its urban core is at Ganzhou in the oasis formed by the Ruo or Hei River. Its streams, sunlight, and fertile soil make it an important regional agricultural centre, although it was seriously damaged by over-foresting in the 19th century.

Near Aviko french fry factory in Liuba Town, Minle County, Zhangye Aviko-china.JPG
Near Aviko french fry factory in Liuba Town, Minle County, Zhangye

The Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park, covering an area of 510 square kilometres (200 sq mi), is located in Linze and Sunan counties of Zhangye, 30 kilometers (19 mi) west of the city center. [7] Known for its colourful rock formations, it has been voted by Chinese media outlets as one of the most beautiful land-forms in China. [7]


Zhangye has a cold desert climate (Köppen BWk) with very warm summers and cold and very dry winters. The monthly 24-hour average temperature ranges from −9.2 °C (15.4 °F) in January to 21.5 °C (70.7 °F) in July. The mean annual temperature is 7.31 °C (45.2 °F), while annual rainfall is 130 mm (5.1 in), almost all of which falls from May to September. The winters are so dry that snow is extremely rare.

Climate data for Zhangye (1971−2000)
Record high °C (°F)17.9
Average high °C (°F)0.1
Daily mean °C (°F)−9.2
Average low °C (°F)−16.2
Record low °C (°F)−26.4
Average precipitation mm (inches)1.4
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)
Source: Weather China


Zhangye has a total population of 1,199,515, only 260,000 being urban residents. There are 26 ethnic minorities other than Han represented including many Hui, Yugur and Tibetans.


Zhangye is served by China National Highways numbers G30 Expressway, 227 and 312.

Zhangye Railway Station is on the Lanzhou–Xinjiang Railway, located to the north east of the city. A high speed railway station has been constructed on the south west side of the city, Zhangye West Railway Station was opened on the 26th of December, 2014 as part of the Lanzhou–Ürümqi High-Speed Railway.

Zhangye Ganzhou Airport, a combined civilian-military airport, opened in October 2011 with flights to Lanzhou and Xi'an.


The 2002 GDP was 7.566 billion RMB, almost 9% growth over the previous year. Annual urban income was 5960 RMB,10.4% growth from the previous year and rural income was 3092 RMB, up 5%.


Hexi University (河西学院) is located in Zhangye. Approximately 10,000 students are enrolled at the university. [8]


Parc Ferme at Zhangye International Rally 2011 in front of the Wooden Pagoda Zhangye International Rally 2011 Parc Ferme.JPG
Parc Ferme at Zhangye International Rally 2011 in front of the Wooden Pagoda

Zhangye has hosted a round of the Chinese Rally Championship (CRC) since 2011. It is held on specially constructed roads across the deserts north and to the south of the city. The event attracts over 100 entries regularly, including international drivers. A stadium for side-by-side super special stages has also been constructed.

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Gansu Province of China

Gansu is a landlocked province in Northwest China. Its capital and largest city is Lanzhou, located in the southeast part of the province.

Lanzhou Prefecture-level city in Gansu, Peoples Republic of China

Lanzhou is the capital and largest city of Gansu Province in Northwest China. Located on the banks of the Yellow River, it is a key regional transportation hub, connecting areas further west by rail to the eastern half of the country. Historically, it has been a major link on the Northern Silk Road and it stands to become a major hub on the New Eurasian Land Bridge. The city is also a center for heavy industry and petrochemical industry.

Xining Prefecture-level city in Qinghai, Peoples Republic of China

Xining is the capital of Qinghai province in western China, and the largest city on the Tibetan Plateau. It has 2,208,708 inhabitants at the 2010 census of whom 1,198,304 live in the built up area made of 4 urban districts.

Hexi Corridor

Hexi Corridor (Chinese: 河西走廊; pinyin: Héxī Zǒuláng; Wade–Giles: Ho2-hsi1 Tsou3-lang2, Xiao'erjing: حْسِ ظِوْلاْ, IPA: /xɤ˧˥ɕi˥ tsoʊ˨˩˦lɑŋ˧˥/), also known as the Gansu Corridor, is an important historical region located in the modern Gansu province of China, referring to a narrow stretch of relatively arable plain west of the Yellow River's Ordos Loop (hence the name Hexi, meaning "west of the river"), flanked between the much harsher terrains of the Mongolian and Tibetan Plateaus.

Jiuquan Prefecture-level city in Gansu, Peoples Republic of China

Jiuquan, formerly known as Suzhou, is a prefecture-level city in the northwesternmost part of Gansu Province in the People's Republic of China. It is more than 600 km (370 mi) wide from east to west, occupying 191,342 km2 (73,878 sq mi), although its built-up area is mostly located in its Suzhou District. Its population was 962,000 in 2002.

Lanzhou–Xinjiang railway railway line

The Lanzhou−Xinjiang railway or Lanxin railway is the longest railway in northwestern China. It runs 1904 kilometres from Lanzhou, Gansu, through the Hexi Corridor, to Ürümqi, in Xinjiang. It was Xinjiang's only rail link with the rest of China until the opening of the Lanzhou–Xinjiang high-speed railway in December 2014. The railway follows the path of the ancient Silk Road.

Jinchang Prefecture-level city in Gansu, Peoples Republic of China

Jinchang is a prefecture-level city in the centre of Gansu province, People's Republic of China, bordering Inner Mongolia to the north.

Chengguan District, Lanzhou District in Gansu, Peoples Republic of China

Chengguan District is one of 5 districts of the prefecture-level city of Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu Province, China. It is located mostly on the southern side of the Yellow River, and includes the downtown Lanzhou. Both the Gansu provincial government offices and those of the Lanzhou prefecture-level city are located within the district. The Lanzhou Railway Station is also located in this district.

Ganzhou District District in Gansu, Peoples Republic of China

Ganzhou District, formerly the separate city of Ganzhou or Kanchow, is a district in and the seat of the prefecture-level city of Zhangye in Gansu Province in the People's Republic of China, bordering Inner Mongolia to the north and northeast. Ganzhou was an important outpost in western China and, along with Suzhou, it is the namesake of the province. As a settlement, it is now known as Zhangye after the prefecture it heads. The name "Gansu" originates as a combination of Ganzhou and Suzhou (肃州).

Minle County County in Gansu, Peoples Republic of China

Minle County is a county in Gansu province of the People's Republic of China, bordering Qinghai province to the south. It is under the administration of the prefecture-level city of Zhangye. Its postal code is 734500, and in 1999 its population was 232,462 people. The GDP per capita is US$1,605 in 2010.

Hu Dongmei is a Chinese sprint canoer who competed in the mid-1990s. At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, she was eliminated in the semifinals of the K-2 500 m event.

Zhang Yichao was a Han Chinese resident of Sha Prefecture. When the Tibetan Empire plunged into civil war, he led a rebellion, capturing several cities and reverted the area's allegiance to the Tang Dynasty. He subsequently conquered the Hexi Corridor and governed it as the military commissioner (Jiedushi) of Guiyi Circuit under nominal authority of the Tang emperors.

Zhangye Ganzhou Airport dual-use military and civil airport serving the city of Zhangye in Gansu Province, China

Zhangye Ganzhou Airport, or Zhangye Southeast Air Base, is a dual-use military and civil airport serving the city of Zhangye in Gansu Province, China. It is located 24 kilometers from the city center. Construction began in May 2010 to convert the air base to a dual-use airport, at an estimated cost of 313 million yuan. The airport was opened on 1 November 2011.

Guiyi Circuit Historical region of China

The Guiyi Circuit, also known as the Guiyi Army, was a regional regime nominally subordinate to the Chinese Tang dynasty and later on the Northern Song dynasty. The Guiyi Circuit was controlled by the Zhang family from the second half of the 8th century to the 10th century and then the Cao family until the 11th century. The Guiyi Circuit was headquartered in Shazhou Prefecture (沙州).

Ganzhou Uyghur Kingdom kingdom established around c.848, by the Uyghur

The Ganzhou Uyghur Kingdom, also referred to as the Hexi Uyghurs, was established in 894 around Gan Prefecture in modern Zhangye. The kingdom lasted from 894 to 1036; during that time, many of Ganzhou's residents converted to Buddhism.

Zhangye National Geopark national geopark in China

The Zhangye National Geopark is located in Sunan and Linze counties within the prefecture-level city of Zhangye, in Gansu, China. It covers an area of 322 square kilometres (124 sq mi). The site became a quasi-national geopark on April 23, 2012. It was formally designated as "Zhangye National Geopark" by the Ministry of Land and Resources on June 16, 2016 after it has passed the on-site acceptance test. Known for its colorful rock formations, it has been voted by Chinese media outlets as one of the most beautiful landforms in China.

Lanzhou–Zhongchuan Airport intercity railway is a regional higher-speed railway located in Gansu Province, connecting the Lanzhou urban area and Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport. As Zhongchuan Airport is quite distant from the urban area of Lanzhou, regular ground transport currently takes about an hour to make the journey and taxi journeys are expensive at around 150 to 200RMB, but with little to no time advantage over the airport bus service. Thus a higher-speed rail connection was initiated by the Lanzhou government in order to improve access to the airport, but also to the adjacent Lanzhou New Area special economic zone. The journey to the airport now takes from 30 to 40 minutes at a cost of 18.5RMB for Second Class and 22RMB for First Class.

Lanzhou–Xinjiang high-speed railway railway line

The Lanzhou–Xinjiang high-speed railway, also known as Lanzhou–Xinjiang Passenger Railway or Lanxin Second Railway, is a high-speed rail in Northwestern China from Lanzhou in Gansu Province to Ürümqi in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Zhangye West railway station is a railway station located in China's Gansu Province, Zhangye City, Ganzhou District. It was put into operation on December 26, 2014. It serves the Lanzhou–Xinjiang High-Speed Railway with High Speed services between Lanzhou and Urumqi and conventional services connecting Urumqi to various cities in Eastern and South Western China. It is the second railway station serving Zhangye, with Zhangye railway station which serves the conventional LanXin Railway.

G0611 Zhangye–Wenchuan Expressway expressway in China

G0611 Zhangye-Wenchuan Expressway is an expressway in that connects Zhangye, Gansu and Wenchuan County, Sichuan in China. It passes through Menyuan in Qinghai, Datong, Xining, Ping'an, Tongren, Henan, Erhai, Zoigê, and Songpan.


  1. Main data bulletin of the sixth national census in 2010 Archived November 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine , 2011-05-09(in Chinese)
  2. 1 2 Yule, Henry (ed.), The Travels of Marco Polo, Bk. I, Ch. 45  .
  3. 张掖与甘州名称的由来. Zhangye People's Government.
  4. Horlemann, Bianca, "The Relations of the Eleventh-Century Tsong-kha Tribal Confederation to Its Neighbour States on the Silk Road", Contributionsto the Cultural History of Early Tibet, p.  85 .
  5. Elvin, Mark, The Retreat of the Elephants: An Environmental History of China, pp.  26–7 .
  6. De Ridder, Koen (2001), "The First Diplomatic Contacts between Belgium and China: Its Background and Consequences for Politics, Trade, and Mission Activity", Authentic Chinese Christianity: Preludes to Its Development (Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries), p.  51 .
  7. 1 2 张掖丹霞国家地质公园 [Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park] (in Chinese). Gansu Provincial Government. 2013-06-17. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  8. http://www.univerzities.com/china/hexi-university/