Xingtai (simplified Chinese: 邢台; traditional Chinese: 邢臺 or 邢台; pinyin: Xíngtái; Wade–Giles: Hsing2-tai2) is a prefecture-level city in southern Hebei province, People's Republic of China. It has a total area of 12,486 square kilometres (4,821 sq mi) and administers 2 districts, 2 county-level cities and 15 counties. At the 2010 census, its population was 7,104,103 inhabitants whom 1,461,809 lived in the built-up (or metro) area made of 2 urban districts and Xingtai and Nanhe Counties largely being conurbated now. It borders Shijiazhuang and Hengshui in the north, Handan in the south, and the provinces of Shandong and Shanxi in the east and west respectively.
Xingtai is the oldest city in North China. The history of Xingtai can be traced back 3500 years ago. During the Shang Dynasty, Xingtai functioned as a capital city. During the Zhou Dynasty, the State of Xing – from which the present name derives – was founded in the city. During the Warring States period, the state of Zhao made Xingtai its provisional capital. The city was known as Xindu for most of the Qin Dynasty, but after the 207 BC Battle of Julu (within modern Xingtai), it became known as Xiangguo. During the Sixteen Kingdoms Period, when the Later Zhao was founded by Shi Le of the Jie, the capital was again at Xiangguo. During the Sui and Tang dynasties, the city was known as Xingzhou. During the Yuan Dynasty, Ming, and Qing dynasties, Xingtai was called Shunteh (Shundefu) and functioned as a prefecture in China.
Xingtai 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 vast Siberian anticyclone. Spring can bear witness to 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. The annual rainfall, more than half of which falls in July and August alone, is highly variable and not reliable. In the city itself, this amount has averaged to a meagre 493 millimetres (19.4 in) per annum.