Coordinates: 40°05′N 113°18′E / 40.083°N 113.3°E / 40.083; 113.3

—  Prefecture-level city  —
Datong (red) in Shanxi province (orange) and China
Country China
Province Shanxi
 – Urban 2,080 km2 (803.1 sq mi)
 – Metro 1,074 km2 (414.7 sq mi)
Elevation 1,042 m (3,419 ft)
Population (2010 census)
 – Prefecture-level city 3,318,057
 – Urban 1,570,035
 – Urban density 754.8/km2 (1,955/sq mi)
 – Metro 1,447,550
 – Metro density 1,347.8/km2 (3,490.8/sq mi)
Time zone China Standard (UTC+8)
License Plates 晋B
Website http://www.dt.gov.cn/

Datong (Chinese: 大同; pinyin: Dàtóng; Wade–Giles: Ta-t'ung) is a prefecture-level city in northern Shanxi Province of North China, located a few hundred kilometres west by rail from Beijing with an elevation of 1,040 metres (3,410 ft). It has a population of 3,318,057 at the 2010 census of whom 1,447,150 live in the built up area made of 3 out of 4 urban districts (City, Mining and Nanjiao).



Nine-Dragon Wall

Near here was the Beidi kingdom of Tai which was conquered by the Zhou dynasty in 457BC. It bordered on the Hu nomads and traded in horses. Tai was later a commandery or county.

The town was founded as Píngchéng (平城) in 200 BC during the Han Dynasty, after the Battle of Baideng between the Han and the Xiongnu. Located near the Great Wall Pass to Inner Mongolia. It blossomed during the following period and became a stop-off point for Camel Caravans moving from China into Mongolia and beyond. It was sacked at the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty. Pingcheng became the capital of Northern Wei from 398 AD until 494 AD. The famous Yungang Grottoes (云冈石窟 Yúngāng Shíkū) were constructed during the later part of this period (460 – 494 AD).

The city was renamed Datong in 1048 AD and sacked again at the end of the Ming Dynasty (1649 AD), but promptly rebuilt in 1652 AD.


Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: China Meteorological Administration

Datong is the northernmost city of Shanxi, and is located in the Datong Basin. The urban area is surrounded on three sides by mountains, with passes only to the east and southwest. Within the prefecture elevations generally increase from southeast to northwest. The prefecture ranges in latitude from 39° 03' to 40° 44' N and in longitude from 112° 34' to 114° 33' E. Datong borders Inner Mongolia to the northwest and Hebei to the east. Neighbouring prefectures within Shanxi are Shuozhou and Xinzhou, with Ulanqab in Inner Mongolia and Zhangjiakou in Hebei also bordering Datong.

The well-known Datong Volcanic Arc lies nearby in the Datong Basin.


Datong has a continental, monsoon-influenced steppe climate (Köppen BSk), influenced by the elevation of above 1,000 metres (3,300 ft), with rather long, cold, very dry winters, and very warm summers. Monthly mean temperatures range from −10.6 °C (12.9 °F) in January to 22.0 °C (71.6 °F) in July; the annual mean temperature is 6.97 °C (44.5 °F). Due to the aridity and elevation, nighttime lows are often significantly lower than daytime highs, with an annual mean diurnal temperature variation of 13.3 °C (23.9 °F). There barely is any precipitation during winter, and more than ¾ of the annual precipitation occurs from June to September. The area receives upwards of 60% (2670 hours) of the possible amount of sunshine per year.

Administrative divisions

The Mining District (矿区, Kuàng Qū) is largely made up of separate mines throughout the metropolitan area.

Datong mcp.png
# Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Population (2003 est.) Area (km²) Density (/km²)
1 City District 城区 Chéng Qū 580,000 46 12,609
2 Mining District 矿区 Kuàng Qū 440,000 62 7,097
3 Nanjiao District 南郊区 Nánjiāo Qū 280,000 966 290
4 Xinrong District 新荣区 Xīnróng Qū 110,000 1,006 109
5 Yanggao County 阳高县 Yánggāo Xiàn 290,000 1,678 173
6 Tianzhen County 天镇县 Tiānzhèn Xiàn 210,000 1,635 128
7 Guangling County 广灵县 Guǎnglíng Xiàn 180,000 1,283 140
8 Lingqiu County 灵丘县 Língqiū Xiàn 230,000 2,720 85
9 Hunyuan County 浑源县 Húnyuán Xiàn 350,000 1,965 178
10 Zuoyun County 左云县 Zuǒyún Xiàn 140,000 1,314 107
11 Datong County 大同县 Dàtóng Xiàn 170,000 1,501 113


Loess landscape near Hunyuan

The Yungang Grottoes, or Cloud Ridge Caves (云冈石窟 Yúngāng Shíkū)are a collection of shallow caves located 16 km west of Datong. There are over 50,000 carved images and statues of Buddhas and bodhisattvas within these grottoes, ranging from 4 centimeters to 7 meters tall. Most of these icons are around 1000 years old.

Within the city itself, there are a few surviving sites of historical interest such as the Nine-Dragon Wall, the Huayan Monastery(华严寺 Huá Yán Sì), and the Shanhua Temple(善化寺 Shàn Huà Sì). Further afield is the Hanging Temple (悬空寺 Xuán Kōng Sì) built into a cliff face near Mount Heng. Most of the historical sites in this region date to the Tang and Ming dynasties, but the Hanging Temple dates to the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534).

The railway locomotive works (see below) began to attract increasing numbers of railway enthusiasts from the 1970s. When construction of steam locomotives was phased out, the authorities did not want to lose this valuable tourism market, and pondered the possibility of developing a steam railway operating centre as an attraction. A number of study visits were undertaken to the East Lancashire Railway at Bury, and a twinning arrangement was concluded with that town.


Datong railway station

The GDP per capita was ¥17,852 (US$2,570) per annum in 2008, ranked no. 242 among 659 Chinese cities. Coal mining is the dominant industry of Datong. Its history and development are very much linked to this commodity.

Development zones Datong Economic and Technological Development Zone

Due to its strategic position it is also an important distribution and warehousing center for Shanxi, Hebei and Inner Mongolia.[1]

Datong is an old fashioned coal mining city in China, and still sits on significant reserves of this commodity. Consequently it has developed a reputation as one of China’s most polluted cities. The Datong Coal Mining Group is based here and is China’s third largest such enterprise. Datong is indeed however an emerging economy, as the city seeks to loosen its dependence on coal, introduce more environmentally friendly and efficient methods of extraction and move into other areas of business services. Local government has continued to upgrade its pillar coal sector (and related industries like coal chemicals, power and metallurgy), while also developing "substitute industries" such as machinery manufacturing, tourism and distribution, warehousing and logistics services. This has had some impact. Datong's GDP grew by 5.1 percent in 2008 to RMB56.6 billion.[2]

While coal will continue to dominate, Datong has been identified as one of the key cities requiring redevelopment, with part of this being in environmental cleanup, rehabilitation and industrial refocusing. Datong is a pilot city for rehabilitation studies following years of pollution. To this end it has already struck up strong relationships with other cities worldwide with similar backgrounds, and has begun plans, for example, to develop a tourism base focused on steam engine technology with antique locomotives to be used along designated tracks.[3]

Datong has a large railway locomotive works 'Datong locomotive factory', where the 'Aiming Higher'[clarification needed] class of steam locomotive was built as late as the 1970s, steam locomotive production ended in the late 1980s and the plants main products (as of 2010) is main line electric locomotives

Main Enterprises In Datong

  • Datong Coal Mine Group(The third biggest coal-mining enterprise in China)[4]
  • Datong Electric Locomotive Co.,Ltd, (DELC) (The second biggest Elec-Locomotive enterprise in China)[5]
  • Shanxi Diesel Engine Industries Corporation,Ltd,CNGC[6]
  • Shanxi Synthetic Rubber Group Co.,Ltd,CNCC[7]
  • GD Power Datong No.2 Power Plant
  • GD Power Datong Power Generation Co., Ltd[8]
  • Shanxi Datang International Yungang Co-generation Co., Ltd.[9]
  • China National Heavy Duty Truck Group Datong Gear CO.,LTD[10]



Colleges and universities

  • Datong University (大同大学)

Major schools

  • Datong No.1 Middle School(大同市第一中学)
  • Datong No.2 Middle School(大同市第二中学)
  • Datong No.3 Middle School(大同市第三中学)
  • BeiYue Middle School
  • Datong Experimental Secondary School(大同市实验中学)
  • The No.1 Middle School of DCMG(Datong Coal Mine Group)(同煤一中)
  • Datong No.14 Elementary School(大同市第十四小学)
  • Datong No.18 Elementary School(大同市第十八小学)
  • Datong Experimental Elementary School(大同市实验小学)


South of Datong, there is at 39°56'43"N 113°15'7"E a VLF-transmitter of the Chinese Navy. The station has as interesting feature that 4 of its masts look like an inverted "V"-letter.

International relations

Twin towns — sister cities

Datong is twinned with:

See also


Further reading

  • Cotterell, Arthur (2008). The Imperial Capitals of China: An Inside View of the Celestial Empire. Pimlico, London. ISBN 9781845950101.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Datong — 1 Original name in latin Datong Name in other language Datong, Datong Zhen, Datongjie, Datun, Ta t ung, Ta t ung chen, Ta t’ung, Ta t’ung chen, da tong, da tong zhen, Датун State code CN Continent/City Asia/Shanghai longitude 32.82808 latitude… …   Cities with a population over 1000 database

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