Wealthy Chinese wince at the mention of the poor and landlocked province of Henan. Meanwhile, its cultural heritage has a very long history, dating back to classical Chinese antiquity. Proud capitals arose and died in the north of Henan, where the dawn of a great civilization was dawning in the bends of the Yellow River. Henan is home to the oldest surviving Buddhist temple in China and one of the most impressive collections of Buddhist murals – the Longmen Caves.
The legendary Shaolin Monastery is located in the same province, where gentle Buddhism and martial arts – such dissimilar components – are so effectively combined with each other. The backwardness of the provincial economy is largely due to the fact that nowadays the inhabitants of the village commune see the future in a collective way of life in the spirit of Maoism. Finally, Henan is the birthplace of the oldest Jewish community in China, living behind the strong walls of the city of Kaifeng.
The first archaeological finds dating back to the era of the Steps were made near Anyang in the north of Henan. However, it is believed that the first capital of the Shang Kingdom was in Yanshi, west of modern Zhengzhou. This city flourished about 388 years ago. Sometime in the middle of the XIV century BC, the capital of the kingdom was moved to Zhengzhou, where the remains of its ancient walls are still preserved.
Henan regained its central importance during the Song Dynasty, when Kaifeng became the capital of China. Already in the XII century. the threat of the invasion of the Jurchens forced the emperor and the court to flee to the south. At the same time, the densely populated province remained an important agricultural region. Even the violent temper of the Yellow River, which periodically broke through protective dams and flooded the He-nan fields, could not prevent this.
The last major disaster in Henan Province occurred in 195, when the Banqiao dam, washed away by heavy rains, collapsed, leading to the destruction of neighboring dams and the death of 230 thousand people. In the 1990s, a scandal broke out in the province related to the transfusion of HIV-infected blood. This has led to a sharp increase in the number of AIDS patients in several villages of the province.