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Shandong: energy, gold, diamonds, trade and beer

Shandong is a quasi-peninsular province of East China, one of the cradles of Chinese civilization and home to the three main Chinese religions: Daoism, Confucianism and Buddhism.
Since it is pretty much in the middle between two of the most rich provinces of East China (Zhejiang and Jiangsu) and Beijing, as well as connected to the sea, Shandong has always been great for trade.
Today the province has above 100 million inhabitants, competing with Guangdong in both economy and population size. The capital, Jinan, hosts around 8 million within its administrative area. Other big cities are Qingdao, Weifang, Linyi, Yantai and Heze.

Map of China’s provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions and special administrative regions. Source: chokkicx / Getty Images

Shandong is also famous for its german-influenced city, Qingdao, that has been for some time colonized by Germany. The most famous beer brand in China, Tsingtao, is named after an alternative spelling of the city name. After World War I, Germany did not give back Qingdao to China, but instead transferred it to Japan. This movement would trigger what is now known as May the Fourth Movement, a cry to end colonialism in China. After years of fight, Shandong was again Chinese in its entirety, including its other colony – the British Weihai. As it has been the home of Chinese civilization for millennia, almost all its population is Han, with some Hui muslim minorities.

Shandong: mountains and sea

The name of the province comes from the word “Shan” (mountain) and “Dong” (East). The most important mountain in Shandong is Mount Tai (or Tai Shan), the most important mountain – religiously speaking – in China. The climate is temperate, with the raining season happening during the summers, due to the monsoons. Shandong has access to two seas: the inner Bohai Sea, and the outer Yellow Sea.
Mount Tai, in Shandong
The powerful economy and huge population of Shandong made it possible that the economic development is not centralized, but diversified among many cities, many of which are on the coast.

A traditionally powerful economy

Shandong’s economy has always been predominant in China. Its production of fruits, salt and vegetables have always been first-class in China. Furthermore, Shandong has the biggest production of gold, diamonds and sapphire, the latter being one of the biggest of the world. The province is also blessed with great oil fields. Its primary sector output is the biggest in China, but there is also a powerful industrial base. That’s also thanks to Japanese and Korean investment.
Its strong reliance on natural resources and its overabundance of these had also a negative effect, though. Shandong province is the one with the biggest fossil-fuel reliance in China.
Wine production is the second biggest business in Shandong, after agriculture.
Qingdao, Weihai and Yantai, among other cities, have many special economic and technological development zones to boost industrial output. Focus is on exports, energy production and hi-tech.
The position of Shandong makes it a perfectly connected area with the south, the north and the west. The infrastructure is among the best in China.

Home of the Three ancient Chinese religions

Shandong is home to Confucianism, since Kong Fu ZiConfucius – was born in Qufu, Shandong.
It is also home to Daoism, as Mount Tai, the most sacred place of Daoism, is located there. The south is home to many important Chinese Buddhist temples, making Shandong extremely important from a religious perspective.
Mount Tai is a World Heritage Site. Another one in the province is the site including the temple and cemetery of Kong Fu Zi and the Kong family mansion.
Qingdao City, in Shandong, an ex-german colony

Shandong’s future is surely bright, being one of the three provinces with the biggest population of China. Both its primary and second sector are thriving, but there are yet some issues to work on. One of them is the over-reliance on the natural resources of the area, and the other is to develop the tertiary.

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