Gansu is located in the upper reaches of the Yellow River, in northwest China, bordering on Shanxi Province to the east, Sichuan Province to the south, Qinghai Province and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to the west. It is bounded on the north by Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and the People's Republic of Mongolia and joined by Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region to the northeast. Sloping down from the southwest to the northeast, the landscapes in Gansu are complex and varied. High mountains, deep valleys, rivers oasis and deserts crisscross the entire province. According to its topographical features and structural formations, Gansu can be divided into 5 different areas: Longnan hilly area, Longzhong loess plateau, Gannan plateau, Qilian mountainous area, and Hexi corridor high land plain.
Chinese Traditional Herb Resources
Gansu is one of China's main Chinese herb producing areas growing 9,500 kinds of medicinal herbs. At present about 450 varieties of medicinal herbs are manufactured here, Chinese Angelica and Dangshen are especially well known both at home and abroad for their excellent quality.
Gansu is a multi-ethnic province with 54 nationalities living in the area. Among its total population of just over 26 million, the minority populations make up approximately 2 million. The ethnic groups of Hui, Tibetan, Dongxiang, Tu, Yugu, Baoan, Mongolian, Sala, Hazak and Manchurian Chinese have lived in Gansu for generations. Among them, Yugu, Dongxiang and Baoan are unique nationalities.
At present five religions thrive in Gansu, namely Islam, Buddhism, Catholicism, Christianity and Taoism. Most people of Gansu Province believe in Islam and Tibetan Buddhism. The people who believe in Islam are from the ethnic groups of Hui, Dongxiang, Sala, Baoan and Hazak. The people from Tibet and Mongolia, the Tu and Yugu, believe in Tibetan Buddhism. A smaller number of people believe in Catholicism, Christianity and Taoism.
The name "Gansu"comes from the "Gan"of ancient Ganzhou (present day Zhangye) and "Su" from Suzhou(present day Jiuquan). Its abbreviation is Gan. Because most of the province lies in the west of Long Mountain it was also simply named Long. Currently under the provincial administration there are 12 prefecture level cities in Gansu; Lanzhou, Tianshui, Baiying, Jinchang, Jiayuguan, Qingyang, Pingliang, Zhangye, Jiuquan, Dingxi, Wuwei and Longnan. There are two autonomous prefectures: Linxia and Gannan; 4 county level cities, 59 counties, 7 ethnic minority autonomous counties and 17 districts under city jurisdiction.