Henan is a province of the People’s Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is “豫” (yù), named after Yuzhou (豫州; Yùzhōu), a Han Dynasty state (zhou) that included parts of Henan. Although the name of the province (河南) means “south of the river”, approximately a quarter of the province lies north of the Yellow River, also known as the “Huang He”.
Henan is often referred to as Zhongyuan or Zhongzhou (中州) which literally means “central plains” or “midland”, although the name is also applied to the entirety of China proper. Henan is the birthplace of Chinese civilization with over 3,000 years of recorded history, and remained China’s cultural, economical, and political center until approximately 1,000 years ago. Numerous heritages have been left behind including the ruins of Shang Dynasty capital city Yin and the Shaolin Temple. Four of the Eight Great Ancient Capitals of China, Luoyang, Anyang, Kaifeng, and Zhengzhou are located in Henan.