In a land area of approximately 20,589 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the prefecture-level city of Linfen and its administrative area that comprises of two county-level cities (Houma and Huozhou) and 14 counties.
There are 4.13 million people living in Linfen city, including about 750,000 in Hongtong county, where the diocese is based.
Mandarin Chinese and Jinnan dialect are in use in Linfen area.
Hongtong was once a part of Apostolic Vicariate of Lu'anfu (today’s Changzhi diocese). It was erected as Apostolic Prefecture of Hongtong in 1932, with Chinese Bishop Peter Cheng Yutang as its first head. By that time, it covered 13 counties with 15 churches, 13 priests and 12,000 faithful. It was elevated to a diocese in 1950.
However, the Communist government chose Hongtong as one of the two pilot counties in the country to eliminate religions in 1958. Thus, the local Catholic Church suffered from severe persecution, clergy were arrested and the cathedral was demolished.
Since religious activities revived in 1980s, Hongtong diocese, which is renamed Linfen in accordance with civil administrative boundaries, has achieved remarkable development. Today, it has 40,000 Catholics, 40 priests, 130 churches and mission points in 17 cities and counties.
Linfen is a pivotal point for the railway transport in the south of Shanxi Province. The Datong-Fenglingdu railway line runs directly through the city, linking northern Shanxi with southern Shanxi. the Houma-Xi'an and Houma-Yueshan railway lines link the east with the west of Shanxi. Today, due to the famed Hukou Falls, it is now fairly convenient to take a train directly to Linfen from Taiyuan, Datong, Beijing, Tianjin, Zhenzhou and Xi'an.
Linfen has a continental, monsoon-influenced semi-arid climate, with moderately cold, but dry winters, and hot, somewhat humid summers. The annual precipitation stands at 470 mm, with close to 70 percent of this total falling from June to September.
Notable industries of Linfen area include coal mining and food processing. With its fertile land, temperate climate, rich products, Linfen is one of the cotton and wheat bases in Shanxi.
Because of the proliferation of coal-burning power plants, the city has become smoggy and dust-covered. It has been mentioned by Blacksmith Institute as one of the most polluted cities in the world, and the world's dirtiest city by The Mother Nature Network. It has also been chosen as one of the world's ten dirtiest cities by the Popular Science website.
Linfen's pollution problems began with the economic boom in the late 1990s and sped up after 2002, when domestic energy demand spiked, coal prices jumped, and the reins on private mine owners were loosened. At its low point, in 2004, Linfen had only 15 days out of 365 with an acceptable level of air pollution.
The cleanup was equally dramatic. The first step was to block coal trucks at the city's boundaries; suddenly there was much less coal dust. Next came heating: In 2006 alone, Linfen added enough gas-fired central heating to reach more than half of the city's 4.1 million people, and it knocked down 197 large coal-fired boilers and more than 600 smaller, family-size boilers. Now, 85 percent of the city dwellers use natural gas rather than coal for heating.
Linfen is located in the southwestern part of Shanxi Province, on the lower reaches of the Fen River, bounded by Changzhi and Jincheng to the east, the Yellow River to the west, Jinzhong and Lüliang to the north, and Yuncheng to the south.
Linfen is a cultural city which has a long history. It was the capital city of Yao, a legendary ruler in Chinese history more than 4,000 years ago. It is one of the cradles of the Chinese civilization. Today, the local government has quickened its steps to build Linfen into a city with steady society, thriving economy and abundant products.