Skip to content

Gansu: desert, rare earths, energy production and TCM

Gansu, the province where the dynasty of Qin (221 B.C) came from, is a mostly arid region. Being a big province with difficult land, Gansu did not enjoy the level of economic growth of other areas. It is still one of the poorest provinces of China.

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

The Geography of Gansu

Gansu partially hosts the three deserts of China, including the more famous Gobi. Its biggest river is the Yellow River – passing by the south of the province. The terrain is very mountainous in the south, while flat in the north. The climate is hostile, with temperatures varying a lot from day to night, making it even more difficult for the development of the province. The population of Gansu is small (as a Chinese province) with a bit more than 30 million people. More than 3 million people live in the capital, Lanzhou, and in its other major city, Tianshui. More than 2 million people dwell in other urban areas, such as Qingyang, Dingxi, Longnan and Pingliang cities. While the vast majority, 91% of population, is Han, there are considerable minorities, especially muslim (Hui and Dongxiang). There are also Tibetans in the south.
The government is investing in Gansu, as well as in other desert areas of China, to prevent and reverse desertification. Using a long-term approach, technological cooperation with some of the leaders in the sector (such as the Israelite) and a massive investment, China is slowly achieving results in this aspect as well.

The Economy

Farms, which produced corn, cotton, melons, millet and wheat have been giving way to the mineral exploitation of the province. Many rare earths are in this province. Chromium, coal, iridium, iron, lead, mercury, oil, tungsten are examples. More specifically nickel, cobalt, platinum, selenium, which accounts for the majority of the entire China and are among the most important resources of Gansu.
The industries focus on electricity generation (both water-based and nuclear-based production, but wind energy is getting used as well), petrochemicals, construction materials and oil processing factories.
Although its economy is not great, Gansu has been growing, also thanks to its development zones. Lanzhou hosts a National Economic and Technological Development Zone and a Innovative & Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone.

The Culture

Gansu’s internal tourism is growing: besides its natural landscapes, food culture and historical sites, many protected species live in Gansu. A number of plants and herbs used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) grow in Gansu. As a consequence, it is the second biggest producer of materials used for TCM.

Gansu has less inhabitants than the average, and reliance on natural resources is not balanced yet by its industry.
It will need more support and stronger investments to boost its development speed. It is an interesting choice for both local and foreign investment.

1 thought on “Gansu: desert, rare earths, energy production and TCM”

  1. Pingback: The geography of China: what you need to know - SinoActive

Leave a Reply