Gansu overview

1. Territory, population and topography

Gansu province, referred to as Gan or Long, is located in the upper reaches of the Yellow River in western China, with a total area of 425,900 km2. There are over 12 prefecture-level cities, two autonomous prefectures and 86 counties (cities and districts included) within its jurisdiction. The provincial capital is Lanzhou city. With a resident population of 26.37 million, Gansu is a multi-ethnic province, where ethnic minorities account for 9.98% of the permanent population. Yugu, Baoan and Dongxiang are ethnic groups unique to Gansu.

The administrative area of Gansu province ranges from 32°31′ to 42°57′ N latitude and from 92°13′ to 108°46′ E longitude. It has a temperate, monsoon-influenced, continental climate with annual temperatures ranging from 0 ℃ to 16 ℃. The altitude varies from 1500 to 3000 meters. Therefore, temperatures vary widely with the sufficient sunshine and the large daily temperature difference. The annual precipitation throughout the province is between 36.6 and 734.9 millimeters, and decreases from southeast to northeast. Affected by monsoon season, precipitation is mostly concentrated in June to August, when it accounts for 50% to 70% of the annual total.

Gansu is located in the intersection of the Loess Plateau, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the Inner Mongolia Plateau. It is a mountainous plateau landform that features crisscrossing mountains and different altitudes. The terrain slopes from the southwest to the northeast with a narrow and long topography, which is 1655 kilometers long from east to west, and 530 kilometers wide from north to south. It can be roughly divided into six distinctive regions: Longnan Mountain, the Longdong and Longzhong Loess Plateau, the Gannan Plateau, the Hexi Corridor, Qilian Mountain and the north reaches of the Hexi Corridor. Blessed with the Gobi desert, forest steppes, glaciers and snow peaks, Danxia landforms and canyon caves, the natural scenery is magnificent and adds to the province’s reputation among geologists as a museum of rich geological and surface features.


2. Resource endowment

Gansu, one of the important birthplaces of the Chinese nation and civilization, is known as "Home to Fuxi and the Yellow Emperor". According to legend, Fuxi, Nvwa and the Yellow Emperor, who are known as the Chinese ancestors, were all born in Gansu. People in the Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BC) grew up in Qingyang, and people in the Qin Dynasty(221-206 BC) laid the groundwork in Tianshui and Longnan. Gansu province is blessed with abundant resources in terms of historical heritage, classic culture, national folklore and tourism, and ranks fifth in China in that regard. Results of the first survey of portable cultural relics in Gansu province were announced in 2018. The number of its registered cultural relics was 423,444 pieces/sets, and the actual number of cultural relics was 1,958,351, ranking 17th and the 10th in the country respectively. The total number of registered precious relics ranks fifth nationally and the actual number ranks third. Its rich cultural tourism resources make Gansu an internationally well-known tourist destination. In 2017, it ranked first on a Lonely Planet "2017 Best in Asia" list. In 2018, it ranked 17th on a list of 52 places to go in the world by the New York Times, and was the only place selected in China.

Gansu is also one of the birthplaces of traditional Chinese medicine. The Yellow Emperor's Canon of Internal Medicine, written by Qibo, the forefather of the traditional Chinese medicine, and the Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion by Huangfu Mi, the ancestor of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, are unique in ancient traditional Chinese medicine. One of the main producing areas of Chinese medicinal materials, Gansu has more than 9500 kinds of medicinal materials, ranking second in China. Its planting area and comprehensive output rank first in the country. In 2017, a National Comprehensive Experimental Area of Traditional Chinese Medicine Industry was approved for Gansu province, and became the only one in China.

Gansu is rich in minerals, water conservancy, biology, and light and heat resources. It boasts superior ore-forming geological conditions and consequent rich mineral resources. One hundred and eighty kinds of useful minerals have been found, of which 11 minerals, such as nickel, cobalt and platinum have the highest reserves in the country; gold reserves are also tops nationally. Gansu also has various types of energy. In addition to coal, oil and natural gas, it has new energy sources such as solar and wind power. Specifically, the reserves of coal, oil and natural gas rank at the top in the country, and Guazhou city is known as the "World Wind Bank". Gansu is also one of the three regions with the most abundant solar energy in China.

The forestland resources in Gansu cover an area of 39,700 km2, with primeval forests located in Bailong River, Tao River, Qilian Mountains, Daxia River and other places. There are more than 4,000 species of wild plants in the forest, and 54 species or subspecies of wild animals are listed as national rare and precious animals, including giant pandas, golden monkeys, musk deer, lynx, mink and others of the world’s precious animals. Gansu is one of the seven provinces with an area of more than 150,000 km2 of natural grassland in China, as well as an important base of stockbreeding.

3. Economic society

In recent years, Gansu has been committed to the two bottom-line tasks of poverty alleviation and ecological development, and promoted progress in poverty alleviation and environmental development. By taking the new development concept as a guide and supply-side structural reform as the main line, Gansu has seized historical opportunities such as Belt and Road Initiative and adopted the Great Western Development Strategy. Moreover, Gansu has adhered to the keynote of seeking progress in stability, and promoted economic and social development steadily and healthily.     

The province’s total economic output continues to grow. In 2020, its GDP reached 901.67 billion yuan($139.04 billion) with an increase of 3.9 percent over 2019. The structure ratio of the primary industry, secondary industry to tertiary industries is 13.29∶31.63∶55.08. Compared with 2019, the added value of Gansu’s top ten ecological industries increased by 5.8%, accounting for 24.2% of total provincial GDP. While total retail sales of consumer goods decreased by 1.8%, the per capita disposable income of urban and rural residents increased by 4.6% and 7.4% respectively. The general public budget expenditure, education expenditure, social security expenditure and other nine livelihood expenditures increased by 4.3%, while investment in fixed assets increased by 7.8%, and private investment increased by 6.1%.

Poverty alleviation witnessed decisive progress and historical accomplishments.  In 2020, 75 poor counties of Gansu province were lifted out of absolute poverty,creating an all-round moderately prosperous society along with other counties in the nation.  Main indicators of poverty alleviation in key areas were fulfilled.   The mission that rural area people should be free from worries over food and clothing and have access to compulsory education,basic medical services and safe housing was completed. Four hundred and ninety-four registered poor households were relocated during 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020). It created a huge poverty alleviation pattern due to unified effort from the West and the East, thus promoting social and economic development. At the same time, with the fusion of poverty alleviation and ecological protection, 900 model villages were built under the concept of Beautiful Villages in Gansu province as were 225 Village Tourism model villages.  Many poor villages set up tourism sector, therefore, ecological protection was promised and clear waters and green mountaion became as valuable as mountains of gold and silver.

New progress has been made in the construction of major projects. The first phase of the Dunhuang to Golmud railway and Transit Lanzhou Rail’s Line 1 have been completed and put into operation. As the water supply project diverting water from the Tao River in the urban area of Tianshui city has been implemented, the Lanzhou water source project is now basically completed. The Gansu gymnasium and Lanzhou tourism culture distribution center (Lanzhou Old Street) have been built and put into use. The underground comprehensive pipeline corridor in Baiyin city is fully in operation, and other major projects are being carried out in an orderly manner. They include the Lanzhou-Baiyin Independent Innovation Demonstration Area, the Ecological Protection and High-quality Development in the Yellow River Basin project, Urban Agglomeration of Lanzhou-Xining, the Water Supply Project of Poverty Alleviation and Ecological Migration in Central Gansu, the Lanzhou Logistics Park of International Land and Port Multimodal Transport, the Gansu Nuclear Technology Industrial Park of CNNC, China-Israel (Jiuquan) Green Eco-industry Park, a Medical Complex for Women and Children in Gansu Province and the Heavy Ion Application Technology and Equipment Manufacturing Industrial Base in Lanzhou New Area.

Many breakthroughs have been made in the top ten ecological industries. Gansu has accelerated the development of ten major eco-industries, including energy conservation and environmental protection, clean production, clean energy, circular agriculture, traditional Chinese medicine, cultural tourism, channel logistics, data and information, military-civilian integration, and advanced manufacturing. Large oilfields with 1-billion-ton reserves have been discovered in Qingyang. Yinxi Eco-industry Park in Baiyin city has been selected as the national green industrial park. The Heiyazi Wind Power Project of Nuclear Energy of CNNC in the Gansu mining area has become the first project demonstrating parity wind power of the grid-connected power generation in China. The first tumor therapy system with carbon ion with independent intellectual property rights has been approved to be registered and listed on the market. Anding district in Dingxi city and Lintao county have successfully established a national modern agricultural industrial park. The intelligent glass greenhouse of Zhangye Haisheng Modern Agriculture Co. Ltd has become a demonstration project of agriculture in cold and dry conditions along the Silk Road and of international cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative.

The province’s scientific and technological innovation strength keeps improving. Gansu has formed a distinctive technological innovation system. It has 10 national key laboratories, five national engineering technology research centers, 575 various technology research and development platforms, and 665 R & D activity agencies. In 2019, scientific and technological progress contributed 54.03% of Gansu's economic growth. Its scientific and technical innovation ranks 23 rd in the nation and 5th in western regions of the country. The output value of the Lanzhou-Baiyin Innovation Demonstration Zone has reached 39.75 billion RMB. The output value of Lanzhou-Baiyin Pilot Free Trade Zone is measured at 90.68 billion RMB. The Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has solved the key technical problems in preventing and controlling freeze-thaw disasters on permafrost roads. The Dunhuang Research Institute has become the leading comprehensive research and research entity for the protection of grottoes cultural relics in the nation. The new breed of “Datong Yak” fills the gap in global yak technology systems.

Cultural tourism develops rapidly. In the last 4 years, Gansu province has welcomed 1.1 billion tourists, with revenue climbing to 7.54 billion RMB, and an above 25% average growth rate per annum. New progress has been made in the construction of smart cultural tourism platforms such as "A Mobile Phone Tour in Gansu" and "Traveling the Silk Road with the Treasure Ruyi". A basic block chain platform themed with "Digital Gansu, Glorious Chain" has been launched. Dunhuang City was included among the first national holistic tourism demonstration zones. The parade float named "Symphonic Silk Road, Beautiful Gansu" won the Innovation Award for celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. The "Stunning Dunhuang-Cultural Fashion Show was unveiled at the 15th World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention in London, and the large-scale immersive performance “Musical Dunhuang” was awarded as the Best Tourism Innovation Award in China. The scenic spot of Zhangye Danxia Seven Colored Earth has been promoted to a National 5A Level Scenic Spot, and the Dunhuang Research Institute was selected into the top 10 in the single category of the national demonstration base for the integration of culture, science and technology.

The Belt and Road Initiative has been further advanced. In 2019, the total import and export of Gansu to countries along the Belt and Road accounted for 52.9% of its total foreign trade value. Gansu has sped up the construction of the internal and external interconnection platforms, and has become a hub of the east-west international land bridges and the north-south transport corridors. Zhongchuan International Airport in Lanzhou city operates 43 airlines, with 119 domestic and foreign navigation points, 212 passenger routes, and an annual passenger throughput of more than 15 million. Gansu has successfully hosted the Silk Road (Dunhuang) Cultural Fair four times, and established cultural exchanges with more than 80 countries and regions along the Road. The whole province has taken an active part in integrating into the Belt and Road Initiative, developing the "Five Critical Elements" of culture, hubs, technology, information and ecology, reshaping the new advantages of economic development, and tracing out a new way for economic transformation and upgrading in the inland underdeveloped regions.

The public cultural service system is becoming increasingly perfected. The public cultural service system is advancing vigorously and comprehensively. Cultural activities, such as "Literary Arts Cavalry", "Our Chinese Dream", "Bringing Culture Homes", "Literary Longyuan" "Nationwide Reading", "Science & Technology of Culture and Health", "Volunteer Activities for the Country People" and "Floating Books" have greatly enriched the general public culturally and artistically. In addition, "Baicaoyuan Public Cultural Service Platform Operation Company" has been planned and established. In that way Gansu has taken the lead in building a digital platform for rural bookstores. Baiyin city has been selected among the third batch of the Demonstration Areas of the National Public Cultural Service System. Moreover, the construction of the "Rural Stage" in Kang county, Longnan city, and of "Cultural Associations" in Jingchuan county, Pingliang city was selected into the third batch of Demonstration Projects of the National Public Cultural Service System.

The livelihood and well-being of people have been continuously improved. Livelihood expenditure now accounts for 80.5% of total fiscal expenditure. The per capita disposable income of urban and rural residents increased by 7.9% and 9.4% respectively compared with 2018. The employment rate of college graduates has reached 93%, and 1,221 small-scale rural schools and township boarding schools have been built. Jinchang city is listed as the pilot area of Home Based Care Service in China. Jiayuguan City has become one of the top 100 cities in the overall well-off index of prefecture-level cities in China. Lanzhou New District has been approved as a pilot area of national green financial reform and innovation. "LongmingGong", a public service platform for the real-name system of migrant workers and wage payment management has been put into operation. Ten localities and units have successfully established demonstration zones for national unity and progress. The experience of piloting the modernization of municipal social governance in Lanzhou, Tianshui and five other cities has been promoted nationwide.


4. Development of ecological civilization

Due to its important ecological status, Gansu province is an ecological safe shelter zone in northwest China and throughout the whole country. In recent years, upholding the principle that "lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets", the whole province has been devoted to making great progress in the construction of ecological civilization. The pilot system of the Qilian Mountains and Giant Panda National Park has improved steadily, and the ecological protection and high-quality development of the Yellow River Basin has officially started. In 2019,The comprehensive air quality index of the whole province was 3.59. In fourteen cities and prefectures the percentage of good-air days reached 93.1%. The proportion of good surface water quality in 38 water bodies meets national assessment requirements. The emission reduction of the four major pollutants and carbon meets the control targets set by the state. The project "Gansu Ecological Environment on the Cloud" has started building. Zhangye city is known as a national ecological civilization demonstration point, and Pingliang city has been awarded as the Virescense Exemplar City of China. BabuSha Forest Farm was named as an innovation and practice base of the pleasant ecological environment by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. The local advanced group of desertification and afforestation, six senior citizens and their descendants who have been devoted to sand control and afforestation, were named "Models of the Times" by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China. Nowadays, a beautiful new Gansu with bluer sky, greener mountains and clearer water is appearing in the world.