Province (pop., 2002 est.: 32,940,000), northern China. It is bordered by Hebei, Henan, and Shaanxi provinces and Inner Mongolia. It has an area of 60,700 sq mi (157,100 sq km). The capital is Taiyuan. Largely a vast plateau covered by great loess deposits, it was the home of early Chinese agriculture. Most of the people are Han Chinese; other ethnic groups include Hui (Chinese Muslims), Mongols, and Manchus. Since ancient times it has been an integral part of the various northern kingdoms of China, serving as a buffer against invaders from the north and as a key trade route. It was one of the major avenues by which Buddhism came to China from India. After the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1911–12, the warlord Yan Xishan ruled as absolute dictator until the end of World War II. Japan occupied part of the province during the Sino-Japanese War (1937–45). Communist forces assumed control of Shanxi in 1949. It has vast reserves of coal and iron and the largest titanium and vanadium deposits in China and is a major producer of cotton.