Shijiazhuang ([ʂɨ̌.tɕjá.ʈʂwáŋ]; Chinese: 石家庄) is the capital and largest city of North China's Hebei Province. Administratively a prefecture-level city, it is about 263 kilometres (163 mi) southwest of Beijing, and it administers eight districts, two county-level cities, and 12 counties.
As of 2015 it had a total population of 10,701,600 with 4,303,700 in the central (or metro) area comprising the seven districts and the county of Zhengding largely conurbated with the Shijiazhuang metropolitan area as urbanization continues to proliferate. Shijiazhuang's total population ranked twelfth in mainland China.
Shijiazhuang experienced dramatic growth after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. The population of the metropolitan area has more than quadrupled in 30 years as a result of industrialization and infrastructural developments. From 2008 to 2011, Shijiazhuang implemented a three-year plan which concluded with the reorganization of the city resulting in an increase of green areas and new buildings and roads. A train station, airport and a subway system have been opened.
Shijiazhuang is situated east of the Taihang Mountains (Chinese: 太行山; pinyin: Tàiháng Shān), a mountain range extending over 400 kilometres from north to south with an average elevation of 1,500 to 2,000 metres (4,900 to 6,600 ft); making Shijiazhuang a place for hiking, outdoor trips and cycling.
The oldest name of the city was Shiyi. In pre-Han times (i.e., before 206 BC), it was the site of the city of Shiyi in the state of Zhao, and from Han (206 BC–AD 220) to Sui (581–618) times it was the site of a county town with the same name. With the reorganization of local government in the early period of the Tang dynasty (618–907), the county was abolished. Shijiazhuang then became little more than a local market town, subordinated to the flourishing city of Zhengding (modern Zhengding) a few miles to the north.
The growth of Shijiazhuang into one of China's major cities began in 1905, when the Beijing–Wuhan (Hankou) railway reached the area, stimulating trade and encouraging local farmers to grow cash crops. Two years later the town became the junction for the new Shitai line, running from Shijiazhuang to Taiyuan, Shanxi. The connection transformed the town from a local collecting centre and market into a communications centre of national importance on the main route from Beijing and Tianjin to Shanxi and later, when the railway from Taiyuan was extended to the southwest to Shaanxi as well. The city also became the centre of an extensive road network.
Shijiazhuang is located in south-central Hebei, and is part of the Bohai Economic Rim. Its administrative area ranges in latitude from 37° 27' to 38° 47' N, and the longitude 113° 30' to 115° 20' E. The prefecture-level city reaches a 148 kilometres (92 mi) north-south extent and a 175 kilometres (109 mi) wide from east to west. The prefecture has borders stretching 760 kilometres (472 mi) long and covers an area of 15,722 square kilometres (6,070 sq mi). Bordering prefecture-level cities in Hebei are Hengshui (E), Xingtai (S), and Baoding (N/NE). To the west lies the province of Shanxi.
The city has a continental, monsoon-influenced semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk), characterised by hot, humid summers due to the East Asian monsoon, and generally cold, windy, very dry winters that reflect the influence of the Siberian anticyclone. Spring can see sandstorms blowing in from the Mongolian steppe, accompanied by rapidly warming, but generally dry, conditions. Autumn is similar to spring in temperature and lack of rainfall. January averages −2.3 °C (27.9 °F), while July averages 26.8 °C (80.2 °F); the annual mean is 13.38 °C (56.1 °F). With the monthly percent possible sunshine ranging from 45 percent in July to 61 percent in May, the city receives 2,427 hours of sunshine annually. More than half of the annual rainfall occurs in July and August alone.