Digital relief map of Shansi province, China

Shansi is a province of northern China located between the Yellow River Valley and the Taihang Mountains, which separate the valley from the north China plain. Most of the province is mountainous except along the Fen River valley immediately south of the capital of Taiyuan. The Fen River follows a series of basins likely formed by rifting in the Earth's crust from the collision of India with Asia that formed the Himalayas 40 million years ago. The Taihang mountains along the eastern border of Shansi reach to 6600' (2000 m) with the maximum elevation at Hsiao Wu-t'ai-shan (Xiao Wutaishan) at 9455' (2882 meters).

Resources included rich coal fields in the area around Tatung. About 52% of all Chinese coal reserves were located in Shansi province, although production in 1936 was modest at about 3 million tons a year.

The province was overrun by the Japanese early in the Sino-Japanese War that preceded the Pacific War, although the mountainous terrain continued to provide refuge for guerrillas (the majority Communist.) Tatung was taken on 13 September 1937, and Taiyuan was taken on 8 November against bitter resistance. Southern Shansi was overrun beginning on 7 May 1941, threatening Sian, and the Kuomintang were forced out of the Taihang Mountains on 19 December 1942.

The warlord governor of Shansi, Yen Hsi-shan, spent the Pacific War playing off the Kuomintang, the Communists, and the Japanese to maintain his own autonomy. At this he was largely successful.


Hsiung and Levine (1992)

Mitter (2013)

Peattie et al. (2011)

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