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Prefecture-level city
Skyline of Datong, Shanxi.jpg
Datong Shanhua Si 2013.08.29 13-19-10.jpg Datong Huayan Si 2013.08.29 09-58-58.jpg
Datong 14 grotta.jpg Tower in Lingyan Temple, Yungang Grottoes.jpg Datong Wenmiao 2013.08.29 11-59-31.jpg
Datong Guandi Miao 2013.08.29 10-44-56.jpg Wikiwyprawa 2015 IGP5026.jpg
From top down, left to right: Datong panorama; Shanhua Temple; Huayan Temple; Yungang Grottoes; Tower at Lingyan Temple; Temple of Confucius (Wenmiao); Guandi Temple; Yinghui Gate of the City Wall
Datong (red) in Shanxi (orange)
Datong (red) in Shanxi (orange)
Datong is located in Shanxi
Location of the city center in Shanxi
Coordinates: 40°05′N 113°18′E / 40.083°N 113.300°E / 40.083; 113.300Coordinates: 40°05′N 113°18′E / 40.083°N 113.300°E / 40.083; 113.300
Country People's Republic of China
Province Shanxi
 • Type Prefecture-level city
 • Party Secretary Zhang Jifu
 • Prefecture-level city 14,176 km2 (5,473 sq mi)
 • Urban 2,080 km2 (800 sq mi)
 • Metro 1,074 km2 (415 sq mi)
Elevation 1,042 m (3,419 ft)
Population (2010 census)
 • Prefecture-level city 3,318,057
 • Density 230/km2 (610/sq mi)
 • Urban 1,737,517
 • Urban density 840/km2 (2,200/sq mi)
 • Metro 1,629,035
 • Metro density 1,500/km2 (3,900/sq mi)
Time zone China Standard (UTC+8)
Postal code 037000
Area code(s) 0352
License Plates B
Administrative division code 140200
ISO 3166-2 CN-14-02
Website dt.gov.cn
Chinese 大同
Literal meaning Great Unity
Great Togetherness
Former names
Traditional Chinese 平城
Simplified Chinese 平城
Literal meaning Peaceful City County
Pacified City County
Chinese 西京
Literal meaning Western Capital

Datong is a prefecture-level city in northern Shanxi Province in the People's Republic of China. It is located in a basin at an elevation of 1,040 metres (3,410 ft) and borders Inner Mongolia to the north and west and Hebei to the east. It had a population of 3,318,057 during the 2010 census, of whom 1,629,035 lived in the built-up area made of the three urban districts of Chengqu, Kuangqu and Nanjiao.


The Drum Tower (鼓楼)

The area of present-day Datong was close to the Beidi ("Northern Barbarian") state of Dai, which was conquered by the Zhao clan of Jin in 457 BC. It was a frontier land between the agricultural Chinese and Beidi and the nomads of the Eurasian steppe (known to the Chinese as the Hu or Donghu). The area was well known for its trade in horses.

Pingcheng County formed part of the Qin commandery of Yanmen.[1] It continued under the Han, who founded a site within present-day Datong in 200 BC following their victory against the Xiongnu nomads at the Battle of Baideng. Located near a pass to Inner Mongolia along the Great Wall, Pingcheng blossomed during the following period and became a stop-off point for camel caravans moving from China into Mongolia and beyond. It was sacked at the end of the Eastern Han. Pingcheng became the capital of Northern Wei from AD 398–494. The Yungang Grottoes were constructed during the later part of this period (460–494). During the mid to late 520s, Pingcheng was the seat of Northern Wei's Dai Commandery.[2]

The city was renamed Datong in 1048. It was the Xijing ("Western Capital") of the Jurchen Jin dynasty prior to being sacked by the Mongols. It was sacked again at the end of the Ming in 1649, but promptly rebuilt in 1652.


Datong is the northernmost city of Shanxi, and is located in the Datong Basin, with an administrative area spanning latitude 39° 03'–40° 44' N and longitude 112° 34'–114° 33' E. The urban area is surrounded on three sides by mountains, with passes only to the east and southwest. Within the prefecture-level city elevations generally increase from southeast to northwest. Datong borders Ulanqab (Inner Mongolia) to the northwest and Zhangjiakou (Hebei) to the east, Shuozhou (Shanxi) to the southwest and Xinzhou (Shanxi) to the south.

The well-known Datong Volcanic Arc lies nearby in the Datong Basin.


Datong has a continental, monsoon-influenced steppe climate (Köppen BSk), influenced by the 1,000 metres (3,300 ft)+ elevation, with rather long, cold, very dry winters, and very warm summers. Monthly mean temperatures range from −10.6 °C (12.9 °F) in January to 22.0 °C (71.6 °F) in July; the annual mean temperature is 6.97 °C (44.5 °F). Due to the aridity and elevation, diurnal temperature variation is often large, averaging 13.3 °C (23.9 °F) annually. There barely is any precipitation during winter, and more than ¾ of the annual precipitation occurs from June to September. With monthly percent possible sunshine ranging from 54% in July to 66% in October, sunshine is abundant year-round, and the city receives 2,671 hours (about 60% of the possible total) of bright sunshine per year.

Climate data for Datong (1971–2000)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 11.2
Average high °C (°F) −3.4
Daily mean °C (°F) −10.6
Average low °C (°F) −16.6
Record low °C (°F) −29.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 2.0
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 2.0 2.5 4.5 4.1 7.0 9.8 13.5 12.2 8.8 4.8 2.8 1.9 73.9
Average relative humidity (%) 50 46 44 38 40 49 65 68 61 53 52 51 51.4
Mean monthly sunshine hours 184.1 189.4 222.3 243.5 272.5 265.7 244.8 233.9 234.6 226.8 185.8 167.5 2,670.9
Percent possible sunshine 62 63 60 62 62 59 54 55 63 66 62 58 60
Source: China Meteorological Administration

Administrative divisions[edit]

Kuang District (Chinese: 矿区; pinyin: Kuàngqū) is largely made up of separate mines throughout the metropolitan area.

Name Simplified Chinese Hanyu Pinyin Population
(2003 est.)
Area (km²) Density
Cheng District 城区 Chéngqū 580,000 46 12,609
Kuang District 矿区 Kuàngqū 440,000 62 7,097
Nanjiao District 南郊区 Nánjiāo Qū 280,000 966 290
Xinrong District 新荣区 Xīnróng Qū 110,000 1,006 109
Yanggao County 阳高县 Yánggāo Xiàn 290,000 1,678 173
Tianzhen County 天镇县 Tiānzhèn Xiàn 210,000 1,635 128
Guangling County 广灵县 Guǎnglíng Xiàn 180,000 1,283 140
Lingqiu County 灵丘县 Língqiū Xiàn 230,000 2,720 85
Hunyuan County 浑源县 Húnyuán Xiàn 350,000 1,965 178
Zuoyun County 左云县 Zuǒyún Xiàn 140,000 1,314 107
Datong County 大同县 Dàtóng Xiàn 170,000 1,501 113


The Yungang Grottoes are a collection of shallow caves located 16 km (9.9 mi) west of Datong. There are over 50,000 carved images and statues of Buddhas and bodhisattvas within these grottoes, ranging from 4 centimeters to 7 meters tall. Most of these icons are around 1000 years old.

Within the city itself, there are a few surviving sites of historical interest such as the Nine-Dragon Wall, the Huayan Monastery (华严寺; Huáyán Sì), and the Shanhua Temple (善化寺; Shànhuà Sì). Further afield is the Hanging Temple (悬空寺; Xuánkōng Sì) built into a cliff face near Mount Heng. Most of the historical sites in this region date to the Tang and Ming dynasties, but the Hanging Temple dates to the Northern Wei dynasty (386–534).

The railway locomotive works (see below) began to attract increasing numbers of railway enthusiasts from the 1970s. When construction of steam locomotives was phased out, the authorities did not want to lose this valuable tourism market, and pondered the possibility of developing a steam railway operating centre as an attraction. A number of study visits were undertaken to the East Lancashire Railway at Bury, and a twinning arrangement was concluded with that town.

In 2010, work began on reconstructing the city's 14th century Ming dynasty defensive wall. The controversial reconstruction project was in its final phase at the end of 2014.[3] The documentary The Chinese Mayor [4] documents two years of vigorous effort by Mayor Geng Yanbo to push the reconstruction project forward.


The GDP per capita was ¥17,852 (US$2,570) per annum in 2008, ranked no. 242 among 659 Chinese cities. Coal mining is the dominant industry of Datong. Its history and development are very much linked to this commodity.

Development zones Datong Economic and Technological Development Zone

Due to its strategic position it is also an important distribution and warehousing center for Shanxi, Hebei and Inner Mongolia.[5]

Datong is an old fashioned coal mining city, and still sits on significant reserves of this commodity. Consequently, it has developed a reputation as one of China's most polluted cities. The Datong Coal Mining Group is based here and is China's third largest such enterprise. Datong is indeed however an emerging economy, as the city seeks to loosen its dependence on coal, introduce more environmentally friendly and efficient methods of extraction and move into other areas of business services. Local government has continued to upgrade its pillar coal sector (and related industries like coal chemicals, power and metallurgy), while also developing "substitute industries" such as machinery manufacturing, tourism and distribution, warehousing and logistics services. This has had some impact. Datong's GDP grew by 5.1 percent in 2008 to RMB56.6 billion.[6]

While coal will continue to dominate, Datong has been identified as one of the key cities requiring redevelopment, with part of this being in environmental cleanup, rehabilitation and industrial refocusing. Datong is a pilot city for rehabilitation studies following years of pollution. To this end it has already struck up strong relationships with other cities worldwide with similar backgrounds, and has begun plans, for example, to develop a tourism base focused on steam engine technology with antique locomotives to be used along designated tracks.[7]

Datong has a large railway locomotive works 'Datong locomotive factory', where the 'Aiming Higher'[clarification needed] class of steam locomotive was built as late as the 1970s, steam locomotive production ended in the late 1980s and the plants main products (as of 2010) is main line electric locomotives

Main enterprises[edit]

  • Datong Coal Mine Group(The third biggest coal-mining enterprise in China)[8]
  • Datong Electric Locomotive Co.,Ltd, (DELC) (The second biggest Elec-Locomotive enterprise in China)[9]
  • Shanxi Diesel Engine Industries Corporation,Ltd,CNGC[10]
  • Shanxi Synthetic Rubber Group Co.,Ltd,CNCC[11]
  • GD Power Datong No.2 Power Plant
  • GD Power Datong Power Generation Co., Ltd[12]
  • Shanxi Datang International Yungang Co-generation Co., Ltd.[13]
  • China National Heavy Duty Truck Group Datong Gear CO.,LTD[14]



Colleges and universities[edit]

Major schools[edit]


South of Datong, there is a VLF-transmitter of the Chinese Navy located at 39°56′43″N 113°15′07″E / 39.94528°N 113.25194°E / 39.94528; 113.25194. The station has as interesting feature that four of its masts look like an inverted "V"-letter.[citation needed]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Hou Xiaorong (2009), 《秦代政区地理》 [Qíndài Zhèngqū Dìlǐ, An Atlas of Qin-Era Administrative Divisions], Beijing: Social Science Academic Press . (in Chinese)
  2. ^ Xiong (2009), s.v. "Daijun".
  3. ^ "Fake it to make it". South China Morning Post Magazine. Hong Kong. Retrieved November 2, 2014. 
  4. ^ "The Chinese Mayor". IMDB. 
  5. ^ China Briefing Business Guide. China-briefing.com. Retrieved on 25 February 2014.
  6. ^ 2008 Datong Economy Report
  7. ^ China Briefing Business Guide: Datong Economy. China-briefing.com. Retrieved on 25 February 2014.
  8. ^ 大同煤矿集团公司. Dtcoalmine.com. Retrieved on 25 February 2014.
  9. ^ Datong Electric Locomotive Co.,Ltd Of Cnr Archived 30 July 2012 at Archive.is. Dtloco.com. Retrieved on 25 February 2014.
  10. ^ [1] Archived 10 February 2005 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ [2] Archived 17 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ [3] Archived 3 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Www.China-Cdt.Com Archived 12 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine.. Www.China-Cdt.Com (29 December 2002). Retrieved on 25 February 2014.
  14. ^ china national heavy duty truck group datong gear co ltd. Dcgroup.com.cn. Retrieved on 25 February 2014.


Further reading[edit]

  • Cotterell, Arthur (2008). The Imperial Capitals of China: An Inside View of the Celestial Empire. Pimlico, London. ISBN 978-1-84595-010-1.

External links[edit]