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  General and Old World HistoryAsiaChinaRegions, Provinces, Etc., A-Z
satellite view of Hainanlocation of HainanHainan

the southernmost and smallest province of the People's Republic of China

Hainan, which translates to "south of the seas," consists of about 200 hundred islands in three archipelagos off the southern coast, with a combined land area of about 13,100 square miles. Hainan Island accounts for about 12,700 square miles of that combined area; other major islands in the province include Xisha, Zhongsha, and Nansha. Total population of the province is approximately 8,671,500, with the vast majority of that population living on Hainan Island. Haikou is the capital and largest city of the province, with a population of over 800,000; other major cities include Sanya, Wenchang, Quionghai, Wanning, Wuzhishan, Dongfang, and Danzhou.

Over 50% of Hainan Island is covered with forest, and even the captal city is bordered by forest. Major rivers on the island are Nandu, Changhua, Wanquan, and Xinwu, and the highest point is Wuzhi Mountain.

Haikou forest on Hainan Island


Hainan Island has been inhabited for thousands of years, but did not appear in any written document until after the Han Dynasty established a military garrison there in 110 BC; the Han abandoned the island in 46 BC. It became part of Guangxi Province during the Song Dynasty (980-1272), an independent province under the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368), and was attached to Guangdong Province in 1370. The People's Republic of China began claiming sovereignty over other islands in the Hainan archipelagos soon after its formation, and The Hainan Special Administrative Area was created in 1948. Hainan Province was created in 1988, and it was declared a Special Economic Zone that same year.

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This page was last updated on February 04, 2015.

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