Henan is located in the east of Central China and is often called the cradle of Chinese civilization. The Yellow River flows through the north of the province and has been vital to its development for over 3,500 years. It's fertile, though flood prone plains have maintained agricultural communities here for thousands of years. Also, 3 of China's ancient imperial sites and their capitals were located in the valleys of the Yellow River in Henan.
The ancient cities of Kaifeng, Luoyang and Anyang have all played significant roles in Chinese history. Kaifeng was the capital of 7 dynasties and was its at peak during the Song dynasty (960-1271), after the decline of Xian.
Relics of the early development of Buddhism in China can be seen in Henan. The White Horse Temple at Luoyan is possibly the oldest Buddhist temple in China and the fascinating Buddhist carvings at Longmen Grottoes also show that the province was a place where beliefs central to traditional Chinese culture were nurtured.
Henan is also the home of Shaolin Temple. This famous monastery has been training its monks to be masters of Kung Fu (wushi) for over 1,500 years. It is possible to visit Shaolin and see trainees perfecting the moves of this ancient martial art.
Modern Henan is now the 2nd most populous province in China (after Sichuan). Agriculture is important, there are rich mineral reserves and the province is undergoing economic expansion.