province SE cen China ∗ Changsha area 81,274 square miles (211,312 square kilometers), pop 60,659,754
Province (pop., 2002 est.: 66,290,000), south-central China. It lies south of the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang) and is bordered by Guizhou, Hubei, Jiangxi, and Guangdong provinces, Chongqing municipality, and Guangxi autonomous region. It has an area of 81,300 sq mi (210,500 sq km), and its capital is Changsha. Part of the 3rd-century-BC kingdom of Chu, it passed to the Qin dynasty and became part of the Chinese empire during the Han dynasty (206 BC–AD 220). Hubei and Hunan were one province until split in the mid-17th century. Hunan was invaded in the mid-1850s by Taiping rebels, and in 1927 Mao Zedong led an armed uprising there. It was also the scene of bitter fighting during the Sino-Japanese War (1937–45). Much of the terrain is mountainous; Mount Heng, one of China's sacred mountains, is located there. The economy is basically agricultural. Hunan is one of China's major rice-producing regions.