Natural Environment

Hunan is located on the south bank of the Yangtze River, about half way along its length, situated between 108° 47'–114° 16' east longitude and 24° 37'–30° 08' north latitude. It covers an area of 211,800 square kilometres (81,800 square miles), making it the 10th largest provincial-level division. The east, south and west sides of the province are surrounded by mountains and hills, such as the Wuling Mountains to the northwest, the Xuefeng Mountains to the west, the Nanling Mountains to the south, and the Luoxiao Mountains to the east. The mountains and hills occupy more than 80% of the area and plains comprise less than 20% of the whole province.

The Xiang, the Zi, the Yuan and the Lishui Rivers converge on the Yangtze River at Lake Dongting in the north of Hunan. The center and northern parts are somewhat low and a U-shaped basin, open in the north and with Lake Dongting as its center. Most of Hunan lies in the basins of four major tributaries of the Yangtze River. Lake Dongting is the largest lake in the province and the second largest freshwater lake of China. Fenghuang Ancient Town, located in Fenghuang County of Xiangxi The Xiaoxiang area and Lake Dongting figure prominently in Chinese poetry and paintings, particularly during the Song Dynasty when they were associated with officials who had been unjustly dismissed.

Hunan's climate is subtropical, and, under the Köppen climate classification, is classified as being humid subtropical (Köppen Cfa), with short, cool, damp winters, very hot and humid summers, and plenty of rainfall. January temperatures average 3 to 8 °C (37 to 46 °F) while July temperatures average around 27 to 30 °C (81 to 86 °F). Average annual precipitation is 1,200 to 1,700 millimetres (47 to 67 in).

Hunan has a large variety of biological resources and is one of the most valuable biological gene pools in China and the world. There are 13 first-class national protected animals such as South China Tiger, Clouded Leopard and Elk. 1089 categories of and over 5500 vascular plants grow in Hunan Province, among which there are 47.9% of tropical plants. Of all the plants in Hunan, there are 64 categories of national key protected wild plants such as taxus mairei, Abies ziyuanensis and Gleditsia vestita. Hunan is also home to numerous plants since the cretaceous period.