/huy"nahn"/, n.
Pinyin, Wade-Giles. an island in the South China Sea, separated from the mainland by the Hainan Strait: a part of Guangdong province. 2,800,000; 13,200 sq. mi. (34,200 sq. km).

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Province (pop., 2000 est.: 7,870,000) and island of China.

With an area of 13,200 sq mi (34,300 sq km), the province also includes the Paracel and Spratly islands. It is located in the South China Sea, separated from Guangdong province by a narrow strait. For centuries part of Guangdong, Hainan became a separate province in 1988, the southernmost province of China and the smallest. Its capital is Haikou. It was under Chinese rule since the 2nd century BC but was not closely controlled until the Tang dynasty (AD 618–907). Chinese began settling the island in the 12th–13th centuries, gradually forcing the indigenous peoples into the interior. Hainan was occupied by the Japanese (1939–45), and it came under communist control in 1950. Although the government has tried to stimulate economic development there, it is one of China's less prosperous regions.

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Wade-Giles romanization  Hai-nan Tao,  Pinyin  Hainan Dao,  

      sheng (province) and island of China. Hainan sheng also includes the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands (qq.v.), which are claimed by China.

      Hainan, the largest Chinese island except for Taiwan, lies to the south of the Luichow Peninsula, from which it is separated by the Hainan Strait. The island is about 160 miles (260 km) from east to west and 130 miles (210 km) from north to south and has a total land area of 12,962 square miles (33,572 square km). Hainan province has an area of 13,200 square miles (34,300 square km). The provincial capital is Hai-k'ou.

      The island has a generally mountainous terrain that is surrounded by a maritime plain much broader in the north than in the south. The southern third of the island consists of a number of mountain chains, the highest of which is Mount Wu-chih in the southeast, reaching an elevation of 6,125 feet (1,867 m) above sea level. To the west stretch the Ying-ke and Ya-chia-ta ranges, averaging from 1,600 to 3,300 feet (490 to 1,000 m). The north of the island is hilly, with alluvial basins and small maritime plains.

      The major rivers are the Nan-tu (208 miles [334 km] long), flowing northeastward; the Wan, flowing eastward; and the Ch'ang-hua, flowing westward. There is no real winter, the average temperature for January being 64° F (18° C), that for June 84° F (29° C). Rainfall is heavy, amounting to about 70 inches (1,800 mm) annually in the mountainous south and 60 inches (1,500 mm) in the north.

      The island's tropical vegetation includes many palms, bamboos, rattans, and tropical hardwoods, though tribal shifting cultivation has reduced the original plant cover in many areas. The mountain belt, especially in the east, is covered with dense tropical rain forest up to an elevation of about 2,600 feet (790 m). The west of the island is also forested, and the western and northern lowlands are covered with a tropical savanna. The island's rich and varied animal life includes deer, gibbons, and blind snakes, and its streams and offshore waters abound in fish.

      Hainan has been under Chinese control since the end of the 2nd century BC, when two commanderies were set up to rule the island. There were, however, constant rebellions by the aboriginal population, and the Chinese withdrew in the 1st century BC. Although it remained nominally under Chinese sovereignty, effective government was not reintroduced until the T'ang dynasty (618–907). Even then, the island remained firmly in the hands of the indigenous peoples, and the coastal settlements established by the Chinese became a dreaded place of banishment for those who had lost favour at court on the mainland. Under the Sung dynasty (960–1279) the island was placed under the administration of Kwangsi province. In the 12th and 13th centuries the Chinese settled in the northern uplands and plains, and the indigenous Li peoples were gradually forced into the forested mountain interior. Today people from southern Fukien province predominate around Wen-ch'ang in the northeast. The northwest has a largely Hakka community; Tan-hsien has a large settlement of Hunanese.

      The name Hainan derives from a short-lived province set up on the island under the Yüan (Mongol) dynasty (1206–1368). Under the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) the island was transferred back to the control of Kwangtung province. Hai-k'ou, the island's chief port, and neighbouring Ch'iung-shan were opened to foreign trade in 1858. In 1912 Hainan was again made independent, under the name Ch'iung-yai Island, but this status was abolished in 1921. In 1950 it was taken by communist forces and organized into an autonomous unit, the Hainan administrative district of Kwangtung province. In 1988 Hainan Island became a separate province of China.

      During the Japanese occupation (1939–45) the island's production of rubber and other tropical goods was expanded, and its mineral wealth was exploited. Roads and short railway lines were built to extract the iron ore of Ch'ang-chiang and T'ien-tu in the southwest, bauxite from Yai-hsien, and alluvial tin from the north coast at Tan-hsien.

      Given its year-round growing season, fertile soils, rich tropical vegetation, mineral deposits, and abundant fish resources, Hainan's lack of development in the past is striking. The island's aboriginal inhabitants for centuries practiced only shifting cultivation, hunting and gathering, and some wet-rice cultivation. Moreover, Hainan's distance from the mainland, the prevalence of coastal piracy, malignant malaria, and frequent tribal rebellions all discouraged sizable Chinese immigration and settlement there. Thus, Hainan long remained a backward and neglected frontier region. Although the development of its mineral resources and the expansion of its tropical agriculture have been undertaken by the Chinese government, the island remains one of China's less prosperous regions. Hainan's potential as a source of tropical commercial crops remains largely unexploited.

      Some progress has been made, however. Since 1949 rubber production has been greatly expanded, and processing plants have been constructed. Rice, coconut, oil palm, sisal, tropical fruits, black pepper, pineapples, coffee, tea, cashews, and sugar are also cultivated, and lumbering is a major industry. The local iron-mining operations have also been extended, and an iron and steel industry has been established. The Ying-ko-hai salt fields are the largest in southern China. The island's historic sites and tropical beaches held promise that a substantial tourist industry might be developed. In 1988 Hainan was designated a special (capitalist) economic zone by the Chinese government in an experiment designed to hasten the island's development. Pop. (1990) 6,557,482.

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Universalium. 2010.

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