Much of Henan lies on the North China Plain. The plain is a flat, fertile region created by the frequent flooding of the Huang He (Yellow River). The Huang He flows through the northern part of the province. The western part of Henan is mountainous. The province is sometimes called the “breadbasket” of China. It is a leading producer of wheat and cotton. Henan is also famous for its wine grapes.
Henan has a long and rich history. Zhengzhou ranks as one of the oldest cities in China. Excavations at Zhengzhou have uncovered objects from the Shang dynasty (1766-1045 B.C.). Three other cities in Henan—Anyang, Luoyang, and Kaifeng—were ancient capitals of China.
By about the 1500’s, Buddhist monks at the Shaolin monastery in Henan had developed a distinctive style of self-defense and fighting. Their techniques developed into a martial art called Shaolin kung fu.