Northern China () and Southern China () are two approximate mega-regions within China. The exact boundary between these two regions is not precisely defined. Nevertheless, the self-perception of the Chinese nation, especially regional stereotypes, has often been dominated by these two concepts, given that regional differences in culture and language have historically fostered strong regional identities of the Chinese people.


Often used as the geographical dividing line between northern and southern China is the Qinling–Huaihe Line (lit. Qin MountainsHuai River Line). This line approximates the 0 °C January isotherm and the isohyet in China. Culturally, however, the division is more ambiguous. In the eastern provinces like Jiangsu and Anhui, the Yangtze River may instead be perceived as the north–south boundary instead of the Huai River, but this is a recent development. There is an ambiguous area, the region around Nanyang, Henan, that lies in the gap where the Qin has ended and the Huai River has not yet begun; also, central Anhui and Jiangsu lie south of the Huai River but north of the Yangtze, making their classification somewhat ambiguous as well. As such, the boundary between northern and southern China does not follow provincial boundaries; it cuts through Shaanxi, Henan, Anhui, and Jiangsu, and creates areas such as Hanzhong (Shaanxi), Xinyang (Henan), Huaibei (Anhui) and Xuzhou (Jiangsu) that lie on the opposite half of China from the rest of their respective provinces. This may have been deliberate; the Yuan dynasty and Ming dynasty established many of these boundaries intentionally to discourage anti-dynastic regionalism. The Northeast and Inner Mongolia are conceived to belong to northern China according to the framework above. At some times in history, Xinjiang, Tibet and Qinghai were not conceived of as being part of either the north or south. However, internal migration, such as between the Shandong and Liaodong peninsulas during the Chuang Guandong period, have increased the purview of "north" China to include previously marginalized areas.


The concepts of northern and southern China originate from differences in climate, geography, culture, and physical traits; as well as several periods of actual political division in history. Northern and northeastern China is considered too cold and dry for rice cultivation (though rice is grown there today with the aid of modern technology) and consists largely of flat plains, grasslands, and desert; while Southern China is warm and rainy enough for rice and consists of lush mountains cut by river valleys. Historically, these differences have led to differences in warfare during the pre-modern era, as cavalry could easily dominate the northern plains but encountered difficulties against river navies fielded in the south. There are also major differences in cuisine, culture, and popular entertainment forms such as opera. 200px|The Qin Mountains and Huai River also mark the approximate boundary between wheat_and_[[rice_cultivation..html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="rice.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="wheat and [[rice">wheat and [[rice cultivation.">rice.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="wheat and [[rice">wheat and [[rice cultivation. Episodes of division into North and South include: * [[Three Kingdoms (220–280) * [[Sixteen Kingdoms (317–420) and [[Southern and Northern Dynasties (420–589) * [[Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907–960) * [[Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279) and Jin dynasty (1115–1234) * Warlord era (1916–1928) of the Republic of China The Northern and Southern Dynasties showed such a high level of polarization between North and South that sometimes northerners and southerners referred to each other as barbarians; Yuan subjects were divided into four political status classes. Northerners including Khitans and other ethnic groups occupy the third-caste and southern natives occupying the lowest one. For a large part of Chinese history, northern China was economically more advanced than southern China . The Jurchen and Mongol invasion caused a massive migration to southern China, and the Emperor shifted the Song dynasty capital city from Kaifeng in northern China to Hangzhou, located south of the Yangtze River. The population of Shanghai increased from 12,000 households to over 250,000 inhabitants after Kaifeng was sacked by invading armies. This began a shift of political, economic, and cultural power from northern China to southern China. The east coast of southern China remained a leading economic and cultural center of China until the Republic of China. Today, southern China remains economically more prosperous than northern China. During the Qing dynasty, regional differences and identification in China fostered the growth of regional stereotypes. Such stereotypes often appeared in historic chronicles and gazetteers and were based on geographic circumstances, historical and literary associations (e.g. people from Shandong, were considered upright and honest) and Chinese cosmology (as the south was associated with the fire element, Southerners were considered hot-tempered). These differences were reflected in Qing dynasty policies, such as the prohibition on local officials to serve their home areas, as well as conduct of personal and commercial relations. In 1730, the Kangxi Emperor made the observation in the ''Tingxun Geyan'' (《庭訓格言》): During the Republican period, Lu Xun, a major Chinese writer, wrote:


In modern times, North and South are merely one of the ways that Chinese people identify themselves, and the divide between northern and southern China has been complicated both by a unified Chinese nationalism as well as by local loyalties to linguistically and culturally distinct regions within the province, prefecture, county, town and village isolates which prevent a coherent Northern or Southern identity from forming. During the Deng Xiaoping reforms of the 1980s, South China developed much more quickly than North China, leading some scholars to wonder whether the economic fault line would create political tension between north and south. Some of this was based on the idea that there would be a conflict between the bureaucratic north and the commercial south. This has not occurred to the degree feared, in part because the economic fault lines eventually created divisions between coastal China and the interior, as well as between urban and rural China, which run in different directions from the north-south division, and in part because neither north nor south has any type of obvious advantage within the Chinese central government. Besides, there are other cultural divisions that exist within and across the north–south dichotomy.


Nevertheless, the concepts of North and South continue to play an important role in regional stereotypes. "Northerners" are seen as: * Taller. According to the 2014 census, the average male height between the age of 20-24 was 173.4 cm in Beijing,北京市2014年国民体质监测结果公报
, 北京市体育局
174.9 cm in Jilin province2014年吉林省第三次国民体质监测公报
and 177.1 cm in Dalian. * Speaking Mandarin Chinese with a northern (rhotic) accent. * More likely to eat noodles, dumplings and wheat-based foods (rather than rice-based foods).Regions of Chinese food-styles/flavours of cooking
University of Kansas
While "Southerners" are seen as: * Shorter. According to 2014 census, the average male height between the age of 20–24 was 173.3 cm in Shanghai,2014年上海市第四次国民体质监测公报
171.6 cm in Zhejiang province2010年贵州省第三次国民体质监测公报
and 171.9 cm in Fujian province.福建省2014年国民体质监测公报
* Speaking Mandarin Chinese with a southern (non-rhotic) accent or speaking any southern Chinese language, such as Yue (e.g. Cantonese), Min (e.g. Hokkien), Wu (e.g. Shanghainese), Hakka, Xiang or Gan. * More likely to eat rice-based foods (rather than wheat-based foods) and seafood. These are only rough and approximate stereotypes among a large and greatly varied population.

See also

* Cultural regions in China * List of regions of China ** North China (Eastern Inner Mongolia is also part of Northeast Asia) ** Northeast China (also part of Northeast Asia) ** Southeast China *** East China (some geographers include the Taiwan Island, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu Islands, and Senkaku Islands in this subregion) *** South Central China **** Central China **** South China (including the Hainan Island, Paracel Islands, and Zhongsha Islands) ** Western China *** Northwest China *** Southwest China * Nanquan (''Southern Fist'') * North China (disambiguation) * North–South divide in Taiwan * Northern and southern Vietnam * South China (disambiguation) * Wushu (''Kung Fu'') * Zhonghua minzu *Great Qing Famine





* * * * Muensterberger, Warner (1951). "Orality and Dependence: Characteristics of Southern Chinese." In ''Psychoanalysis and the Social Sciences'', (3), ed. Geza Roheim (New York: International Universities Press).

Further reading

* Ebrey, Patricia Buckley; Liu, Kwang-chang. (1999). ''The Cambridge Illustrated History of China''. Cambridge University Press. (ch. 4, 5) * Lewis, Mark Edwards. (2009). ''China Between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties''. Harvard University Press. * Tu, Jo-fu. (1992). ''Chinese Surnames and the Genetic Differences Between North and South China''. Project on Linguistic Analysis, University of California, Berkeley. {{refend Category:Regions of China Category:Chinese culture