Not to be confused with the unrelated provinces of Henan and Hunan
Hǎinn Shěng
Abbreviation: 琼 (pinyin: Qing)
Hainan is highlighted on this map
Origin of Name 海 hǎi - sea
南 nn - south
"south of the sea"
Administration Type Province
Capital and
Largest City
CPC Hainan Committee Secretary Wang Xiaofeng
Governor Wei Liucheng
Area 33,920 km² (28th)
Population (2002)
 - Density
8,030,000 (28th)
237/km² (17th)
GDP (2003)
 - per capita
67.09 billion (28th)
8270 (15th)
Major Nationalities (2000) Han - 83%
Li - 16%
Miao - 0.8%
Zhuang - 0.7%
Prefecture-level divisions 2
County-level divisions 20
Township-level divisions 218
ISO 3166-2 CN-46

Hainan (Template:Zh-cp) is a province of the People's Republic of China, located at the southern end of the country. It consists of several islands, the largest of which is also called Hainan Island (Hainan Dao). And when speaking of "Hainan" in Chinese, it is usually the main Hainan Island that is referred to. To emphasize that the entire province is meant, one says Hainan Sheng ("Hainan Province"). Its capital city is Haikou.



Hainan Island was called the Pearl Cliffs (珠崖 Zhūy), the Fine Jade Cliffs (瓊崖 Qingy), and the Fine Jade Land (瓊州 Qingzhōu), the latter two gave rise to the province's abbreviation, Qing (琼 in Simplified Chinese), referring to the greenery cover on the island.

In Wu Kingdom of the Three Kingdoms Period, Hainan was the Zhuya Commandery (珠崖郡).

Hainan was one of the last areas of China controlled by the Chiang Kai-Shek's KMT. From March to May 1950, the Landing Operation on Hainan Island (海南島登陸戰役) captured the island for the Chinese communists.

During the mid-1980s (01.1984-03.1985), when Hainan was still part of the Guangdong Province, a 14-month episode of marketing zeal by Hainan Special District Administrator Lei Yu* (08.1982-03.1985) put Hainan’s pursuit of provincial status under a cloud. It involved the duty-free importation from Hongkong of 90,000 Japanese-made cars & trucks at a cost of C 4.5 bn (US$ 1.5 bn), and exporting them - with the help of local naval units - to the mainland, making 150 % profits. By comparison, only 10,000 vehicles were imported into Hainan since 1950. In addition, it involved further consignments of 2.9 million TV sets, 252,000 videocassette recorders & 122,000 motorcycles. The money was taken from the 1983 central gov’t funds destined for the construction of the island’s transportation infrastructure (roads, railways, airports, harbours) over the next 10 years.

The central gov’t funds were deemed insufficient by the Hainan authorities for the construction of the island’s other infrastructures (water works, power stations, telecommunications, etc.) and had taken a very liberal interpretation of the economic and trade regulations for Hainan & 13 other coastal cities – the regulations did not mention on prohibiting the re-selling of second hand goods. Some of the proceeds, from unsold units, were later retrieved by the central gov’t to re-finance the special district.

[* Later, Vice Mayor of Shenzhen SEZ (05.1985–01.1988), Executive Vice Mayor of Guangzhou (01.1988–04.1992) & Vice Chairman of Guangxi AR (04.1992–01.1996).]

Administrative divisions

Hainan uses a slightly different administrative system from the other provinces of China. Most other provinces are divided entirely into prefecture-level divisions, each of which is then divided entirely into county-level divisions. County-level divisions generally do not come directly under the province. In Hainan, nearly all of the county-level divisions (the 4 districts excepted) come directly under the province.

The political divisions of Hainan are:

There is also the Office of West, South, and Central Sands Archipelagos, whico overseas the South China Sea Islands: the West Sands (Paracel Islands), Central Sands (Macclesfield Bank), and South Sands (Spratly Islands). The Spratlys are in reality disputed and divided among China and several neighbouring countries, while the Macclesfield is claimed by the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), and Vietnam, but administered by no one.

The cities and counties of Hainan are divided into 218 township-level divisions, including 181 townships, 20 towns, and 17 subdistricts.

Hainan was historically part of Guangdong Province and Guangxi Province, being as such, it was the Qiongya Circuit (瓊崖道) in 1912 (the establishment of the Republic of China). In 1921, it was planned to become a Special Administrative Region (瓊崖特別行政區); in 1944, it became Hainan Special Administrative Region with 16 counties containing the South China Sea Islands.

On May 1, 1950 (under the PRC), the Special Administrative Region became an Administrative Region Office (海南行政区公署), a branch of the Guangdong provincial government. On October 1, 1984, it became the Hainan Administrative Region (海南行政区), with a People's Government, and finally as province separate from Guangdong four years later.


Hainan, the largest island administered by the People's Republic of China, is separated by the Qiongzhou Strait (瓊州海峽) from the Leizhou Peninsula (雷州半島) of Guangdong. To the West of Hainan is the Gulf of Tonkin. Wuzhi Mountain (1,876 m) is the highest mountain in the island.

In the official PRC territorial claim, Hainan Province includes not just one island, but also some 200 South China Sea Islands. The containment of the South China Sea Islands makes Hainan Province have a very large water body, but disproportionally small land area. James Shoal (曾母暗沙 Zengmu Ansha), which is presently marked by the PRC, signifies the country's southernmost border. But the Malaysians also claim it is on their continental shelf.


Since the 1980s, the Hainan province has been a Special Economic Zone of China. The province has a reputation for being a "Wild West" area. Hainan Island is largely untouched by industrialisation and there are few factories.

The economy is not subject to the policies of the mainland.

Its nominal GDP for 2003 was a little over 8 billion USD, making it the 4th smallest in all of the PRC and contributes just 0.5% to the entire country's economy. Its GDP per capita was 8270 RMB (998 USD).


There are 10,000 Buddhist Hainanese, and 6,500 Muslims. Because Hainan had been a point in the travel route of missionaries, there are many Christians: 35,000 Protestants and 4,100 Catholics.

Like in most eastern provinces, the majority (85% of the population) is Han Chinese. Most, if not all, of the 6,500 Muslim Hainanese mentioned above are Hui Chinese living near Sanya.

Many inhabitants of Hainan speak the Min Nan Chinese language or a variant. Standard Cantonese is understood by many local Hainaneses. English is understood by some of the younger generation, but Hainan Island still largely remains a non-English speaking environment Hainan Islandfor (http://www.travel-hainan.com/) most visitors.

See also: Li Chinese



As Hainan Island is not heavily industrialised, its greenery, together with its beautiful beaches and clean air, make it a popular tourist attraction. The island is accessible through ferry links with Guangdong province, as well as air links. There are two airports, Meilan Aiport in Haikou, and one in Sanya city.

In December 2005, the Guangdong-Hainan passenger railway link opened, connecting Guangzhou of Guangdong on mainland China to Hainan Island. The complete trip, which includes crossing of the Qiongzhou Strait by ferry, takes a total of 12 hours. The project cost $583 million US and is expected to greatly increase tourism and economic development in Hainan. This is important to the region because it currently lags well behind Shenzhen and Zhuhai special economic zones, which border Hong Kong and Macao.

Hainan Island tourism is often divided into eight regions Hainan Island (http://www.travel-hainan.com/). They include the following: Haikou and area (Haikou, Qiongshan, Ding'an); Northeast (Wenchang); Central East Coast (Qionghai, Ding'an); South East Coast; South (Sanya); West Coast (Ledong, Dongfang, Changilang); North West (Danzhou, Lingao, Chengmai); and Central Hainan Highlands (Baisha, Qiongzhong, and Wuzhishan Tongzha).

Haikou is the province's capital and contains many interesting historic sites. Also known as Coconut City, Haikou is also a major port. Five Official's Temple consists of five traditional temples and halls that were built in honour of five well-known officials of the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties. These officials were banished to Hainan for speaking out against what they felt were wrong practices by the Emperors.

Hairui Tomb is a key national cultural protection site. Hairui was a compassionate and popular official who lived during the Ming Dynasty. He was famous for his lifelong honesty and his willingness to speak out on behalf of his local people. In his later life, Hairui was persecuted and fell out of favour with the emperor. As a result, he was exiled to Hainan Island. His admirers built the Hairui Tomb after his death to commenorate his great works. Construction of the tomb began in 1589.

Xiuying Fort Barbette was built in 1891 to defend the southeastern corner of China during the Sino-French War. The Xiuying Fort Barbette covers about a third of an acre. Its five large cannons are still intact and viewable at the site.

Perhaps the best known tourist attractions of Hainan Island (http://www.travel-hainan.com/) are its world class beaches and beautiful scenery. With white sand beaches, tranquil green waters and lush vegetation regions, Hainan has much to offer the visitor. Some of the top sites celebrating the beauty of Hainan include the following: Yalong bay National Resort; Dadonghai Tourist Resort; Qizhi Shan (Seven Finger Mountain), Guantang Hot Spring Resort, Shishan Volcanic Garden; Wanquan River, Baishi Ridge Scenic Zone and Baihua Ridge. Visitors should be aware that once they get to Hainan, very little tourist information exists in English (or Mandarin), so finding out about how to get to the top tourist sites is now easy. Compounding this fact is the abundance of lesser quality tourist sites that are rapidly springing up as many want to take advantage of the new tourism economy.

  • Yalong Wan (牙龙湾 Crescent Dragon Bay), Sanya City, southern Hainan: 7-km beach.

The province has initiated a visa-upon-arrival policy for foreign tourist groups from 21 countries in 2000, in order to attract visitors. It received 380,000 overseas tourists in 2002.

Miscellaneous topics

Hainan is a sister province of Jeju island-province of South Korea.

External links

Province-level divisions administered by the People's Republic of China Missing image
Flag of the People's Republic of China

Provinces¹: Anhui | Fujian | Gansu | Guangdong | Guizhou | Hainan | Hebei | Heilongjiang | Henan | Hubei | Hunan | Jiangsu | Jiangxi | Jilin | Liaoning | Qinghai | Shaanxi | Shandong | Shanxi | Sichuan | Yunnan | Zhejiang
Autonomous Regions: Guangxi | Inner Mongolia | Ningxia | Tibet | Xinjiang
Municipalities: Beijing | Chongqing | Shanghai | Tianjin
Special Administrative Regions: Hong Kong | Macau
¹ See also: Political status of Taiwan

et:Hainan es:Hainan fr:Hainan nl:Hainan ja:海南省 no:Hainan pt:Hainan fi:Hainan sv:Hainan zh:海南

Travel Guide for Hainan Island (http://www.travel-hainan.com/) (in English)

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