situated in the far north of Shanxi Province, covers a total area of
14,112.56 square kilometers, and averages at 700 to 1,400 meters in altitude. The city
has a population of 2.848 million, about 60% of which is in rural areas. Datong has
ethnic minority groups like Mongolian, Manchu, Tibetan, Hui, Miao, Korean, etc.,
and the Han people make up 99.6%.
Datong, with a long history and located at a
strategic place, was once a capital of the country in ancient times, the capital
city of two non-Han Chinese dynasties and a town of military importance in four
dynasties. Datong enjoys convenient transportation and communications, and boasts
rich mineral resources and solid industrial foundation. It is now an energy and
heavy chemical base in China, and is especially famous for coal production,
which wins it the name of the capital of coal.
The finest of the city's marvelous natural
sites is a magnificent series of Yungang Grottoes built in the Northern Wei
Dynasty (386-534), just west of the city. Yungang Grottoes, Dunhuang Mogao
Grottoes and Luoyang Grottoes are called China's three major grottoes, which are
of very high artistic value.
The most beautiful landscape in Datong is
Hengshan, one of the five holy mountains of Taoism. At the foot of Hengshan
Mountain, there is the almost unbelievable Midair Temple, which lies against
cliffs and stays high up in the air, and is acclaimed as the peak of perfection.