Changsha is the provincial capital of Hunan in central China. It is located in the northeastern part of the province, spanning an area of 11,819 square kilometers. The city has five districts, three counties and one county-level city under its jurisdiction.
Hunan literally means "the south of Lake Dongting," which is the third-largest lake in China. With the Xiang River crossing from its north to south, Hunan was given the short name of Xiang. The province is administratively divided into 13 cities and 1 autonomous prefecture.
Changsha had a total population of 6.6 million at the end of 2009. The Hunan province had a total population of 65.7 million in 2010.
Besides Mandarin, the Xiang dialect is widely spoken in the diocesan territory.
Mao Zedong, the first president (chairman) of the People's Republic of China was a native of Xiangtan, Hunan. He spent his youth attending high school in Changsha. He carried a strong Xiang accent when he spoke Mandarin.
In 1856, the Vatican split the Apostolic Vicariate of Huguang into the Apostolic Vicariates of Hubei and Hunan in the two neighboring provinces. Hunan Vicariate was further divided in 1879 into Apostolic Vicariates of Northern Hunan and Southern Hunan. They were entrusted respectively to Italian Franciscans and Spanish Augustine friars. Bishop Antonio Fantosati, O.F.M. took office as the second apostolic vicar of Southern Hunan in 1892 and moved the Church administration to Hengzhou.
During the Boxer Uprising (1899-1901), the Hengzhou Massacre took place in the jurisdiction of the vicariate on July 3, 1900. Some 30,000 people rushed into a church to beat the priests there and they burnt the injured Father Cesidio da Fossa, OFM to death. The mob also set the church building and a nursery on fire. Noting the incident, Bishop Fantosati returned with Father Giuseppe Maria Gambaro, OFM from Laiyang, where he supervised the reconstruction of the demolished church. Upon their arrival, they were beaten to death and their bodies burnt. In the following days, some 30 churches in six counties were all burnt to ashes.
Pope John Paul II canonized the three Franciscan friars among the 120 Chinese martyrs on October 1, 2000.
In 1924, the vicariate was renamed after the church administration's relocation to Changsha. Its territory was carved out in 1925, 1930, 1937 and 1938 respectively for the establishment of the Yongzhou (Lingling) Prefecture, Hengzhou (Hengyang) Vicariate, Xiangtan Prefecture and Baoqing (Shaoyang) Prefecture.
Statistics showed that in 1949, there were about 60,000 Catholics and 355 churches in the 9 ecclesiastic territories, managed by Italian Franciscans, Spanish Augustinians and American members of the Congregation of Passion.
When foreign missioners were expelled in 1952 after the Communists took power in China in 1949, Archbishop Lacchio returned to Italy. Accepting the invitation of Cardinal Antonio Riberi, who resigned as the Apostolic Nuncio to China in 1951, the archbishop went to Taiwan to help receive missioners working in China and then assist the evangelization in Taiwan. Archbishop Joseph Kuo Joshih, the then-prefect of the Taipei prefecture, entrusted Taoyuan county to Archbishop Lacchio where he built a church in the vicinity.
In 1999, the government-sanctioned "open" Church authorities restructured the ecclesial territories into six dioceses and later merged them into Hunan diocese in 1999.
Changsha has accessible river transportation. It remains the busiest port on the Xiang River and is open to traffic services that reach Xiangtan and Yueyang cities within the province.
Hunan has five airports in the province, with the one in Changsha ranking the fifth in terms of construction area and the twelfth in terms of passenger capacity in China.
Hunan is located along the Beijing-Guangzhou line, with the Changsha station as one of the three major stops, bringing passengers to Beijing to the north in 16 hours and Guangzhou to the south in 12 hours. Its highway system offers convenient access to every part of the landlocked province.
Changsha has a subtropical monsoon climate with four distinctive seasons. The average temperature is 17 degrees Celsius and the annual precipitation is about 1,361mm.
Hunan has a subtropical monsoon climate with four distinctive seasons. The average temperature ranges between 16 and 19 degrees Celsius. Annual rainfall is somewhere between 1,200mm to 1,700mm. The month of March is usually the rainy season across the cities in the province, which accounts for up to 50 percent of the annual rainfall.
Changsha's urban areas are the industrial, trade and financial centers of the province while its rural areas are famous for grain production and pig rearing. In 2010, the value added output of the secondary and tertiary industries accounting for 63.1 percent and 35.6 percent of the city's GDP, respectively.
By the end of 2010, Changsha had established two state-level development zones; namely the Changsha Economic and Technological Development Zone and Changsha High-Tech Industrial Development Zone. The pillar industries include machinery, Chinese medicine and biopharmaceuticals, new material, auto making and auto parts.
Hunan is the country's largest paddy rice growing province and ranks second in pig rearing. By-products of farm produce including cotton, oilseeds and ramie are processed here.
Hunan University traces its history back to the Yuelu Academy founded in 976 in the time of the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Yuelu Academy, one of the four earliest academies in Chinese history, is now a college at the University offering a degree in history.
Hunan in Chinese history had been an important place in many political incidents and warfare.
The most ancient story was related to the great politician-poet Qu Yuan (340BC - 278BC). He jumped into the Miluo River near Changsha to lay his life lamenting the capture of his country's capital. Committing a ritual suicide as a form of protest against the corruption of the era, people respected the hero and brought dumplings to where Qu immersed himself to keep the fish away from eating his body. They also beat drums and splashed the water with their paddles to cast away the evil spirits. This is the origin of the celebration of the Dragon-boat Festival, which now Chinese people use as an opportunity to teach the younger generation about patriotism.
In the early years of the last century, Hunan was the place where the Taiping Rebellion was suppressed.
During the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), Hunan was an important warfront where the Chinese had resisted the Japanese invasion. Before and after the War, Hunan was the birthplace where the key figures of the Communist Party gathered to make plans.
In recent years, Changsha has become an important creative center for TV and entertainment arts, with its many TV stations and film city producing some of the most popular programs in China.