Known as Shazhou in ancient times, Dunhuang
was served as a rest stop for traders as the gateway through which Buddhism, Islam and Christianity entered China.
Dunhuang is located at the western end of Hexi Corridor in Gansu Province in northwest of China. It is 2000 kilometers west of Beijing, right on the silk road that caravans would take to get from China to the Middle East. It is a small oasis surrounded by high mountain, deserts and the Gobi Desert with Dang River as the city's water supply. The city boasts 241 places of historic interests, and many of them are world-famous for its long history, such as Mogao Grottoes, one of the greatest reminders of the silk trade in ancient time. Other sights include the White Horse Pagoda, the Yangguan Pass and the Yumenguan Pass. These sights cannot rival in beauty with the caves, but it is quite some fun getting there through the desertlike landscape.
Dunhuang is the important ancient city in the Silk Road, and it is the hub of highway communication in the northwestern plateau in China.
Dunhuang means magnificent. In 11th century BC, some mineral nations lived here. In 111BC, the emperor of Han dynasty set up Jiuquan canton, and Dunhuang County was governed by it. The areas under Dunhuang's jurisdiction nowadays are the areas to the western and southern parts of Shule River in Gansu. From the two Hans to Southern and Northern Dynasties, Dunhuang was the thoroughfare between the middle part and the western part. The government of Dunhuang changed many times, but Dunhuang was always the capital of county, government office, town and province. And at that time, it was called Dunhuang or Shazhou. In Song dynasty, it belonged to Western Hsia, and province was abolished. In Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty, Shazhou was changed into a province, later on; it was changed into Dunhuang province.
In Dunhuang, there are a lot of historical relics. Such as Mogao Caves, (it is called thousands of Buddha caves), it has 1500 years' history. It is in the important place in Chinese history. Dunhuang is like an arts palace and cultural house. There are Chinese ancient buildings, paintings and carvings. The ancient place of Yumenguan was the important pass of the northern part of the Silk Road.
Dunhuang has an area of 3,120 square kilometers.
Dunhuang is situated in the very western end of Hexi Passage in Gansu Province, located in the juncture of 3 provinces, namely Gansu Province, Qinghai Province and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and under control of Jiuquan Region. It is a small basin with a very particular geographical environment, which links the qilian Mountains from the south, the large desert from the west, the Hexi Passage from the east. Deserts, gobi, oasis, mountains and lakes are all shown in this area, and they enhance beauty of each other with fertile farmlands and abundant natural resources. The average height above the sea level in Dunhuang is 1,138 meters. It covers altogether 312,000 square kilometers. The Danghe River, which is originated from the glacier in Qilian Mountains, runs through the whole oasis with endless stream. It is 390 kilometers in length with a runoff of 0.328 billion cubic meters per year. So it can irrigate 300,000mu fertile farmlands.
Dunhuang has a population of 0.1 million.
Duhuang can be divided into 6 towns and 3 villages administratively.
Dunhuang, being surrounded by high mountains, has an arid, continental climate. The annual average temperature is 9.3 °C (48.7 °F), but ranges from 24.7 °C (76.5 °F) in July to −9.3 °C (15 °F) in January. Dunhuang is extremely hot in summer and bitterly cold in winter. Precipitation occurs only in trace amounts and quickly evaporates.