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Shanxi Province（山西） is a historically important province in Northeast China. It was a centre for banking throughout several dynasties. The area was heavily damaged during the Japanese Occupation and was the setting for many bloody battles during the Communist Revolution.
Presently the main economic force behind Shanxi Province is coal mining with over 300 million metric tons a year. There is also extensive metal refining within the province, which can make some of the larger cities extremely polluted. Today Shanxi Province is trying to create itself into a banking center again against such economic mega houses like Shanghai. Although it's by-passed by most tourists, cities such as Pingyao and sights like Wutai Shan make Shanxi Province well worth visiting.
Shanxi is on a plateau between the Taihang Mountains and the Luliang Moutains. It is also bordered by the Yellow River to the west. Shanxi shares borders with Hebei, Shandong, Henan, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia.
Taiyuan airport has flights to most major cities of China.
There is now an express train from Beijing to Taiyuan, which takes less than 3 hours (formerly, it took about 8 hours).
Shanxi is famous for its noodles and its black vinegar (the best in China). A bowl of "dao shao mien" (short noodles chopped off a large block of dough) costs only a few yuan, but is very satisfying. Other noodle dishes include "cat's ear noodles", which are shaped like a cat's ear, and "lao mien" which are very long, stretched noodles.
Shanxi cuisine is not as famous as Sichuan or Cantonese cuisine, but it is very good and generally inexpensive. If you don't like to burn the roof off your mouth with every bite, you'll appreciate Shanxi's more moderate cuisine.
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