The province is located in the fertile land of the Yangtze River delta. Most of its land is flat, dotted with the Taihu and Hongze Lake; two of the five largest freshwater lakes in China. On its southwestern and northern borders are hilly lands.
Of the province's territory, the plains cover a total area of 70,600 square km; water covers a total of 17,300 square km; cultivated land amounts to some 5 million hectares.
Located in a transit belt from the subtropics to a warm temperate zone, Jiangsu features a distinctive monsoon climate. Generally speaking, the area south of the Huaihe River and the Northern Jiangsu General Irrigation Canal enjoys a subtropical humid monsoon climate while the area northward enjoys a warm temperate humid monsoon climate. It is warm with moderate rainfalls and clear-cut seasons in the province. The annual average temperature is between 13-16 centigrade. The annual rainfall is between 724-1,210 mm. The rainfall in summer accounts for 50 percent of the annual rainfall.
Jiangsu boasts a network of rivers and lakes. The Yangtze River runs over 400 km through the province from west to east while the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal runs 690 km from north to south. There is the Qinhuai River in its southwest; Northern Jiangsu General Irrigation Canal, Xinmu River and Nantong-Yanzhou Canal in the northern part. The province also boasts more than 290 lakes including the Taihu Lake and Hongze Lake.
Jiangsu has abundant aquatic resources. The area of fish farms in the east coast reaches 154,000 square km. The noted four farms including Lusi and Haizhou Bay teem with yellow croaker, cutlass fish, butterfish, shrimps, crabs, shellfish and algae. The province is also the major producer of freshwater crabs and eel fry. The inland waters within the province cover a total area of 1.73 million hectares. The aquatic farms cover a total area of some 533,333 hectares, cultivating 140 types of fish.
Jiangsu has a wide distribution of mineral resources with a rich variety. The mineral products discovered so far total 120. Major energy resources include coal, petroleum and natural gas. Non-metallic resources include sulphur, phosphorus, sodium salt, crystal, cyanite, sapphire, diamond, kaolin, limestone, quartz sand, marble and pottery clay. The metallic resources include copper, lead, zinc, silver, gold, strontium and manganese. The province is particularly rich in clay, building materials, chemical raw materials, metallurgic auxiliary materials, minerals for special uses and non-ferrous metals.
Jiangsu has a long history of a relatively developed economy and culture. Rich in landscape gardens, scenic attractions and historical sites, it is noted for having the largest number of historical cities in the country. Such cities include Nanjing, Suzhou, Yangzhou, Zhenjiang, Changshu, Xuzhou and Huai'an. There are 20 scenic spots, 23 forest parks, 6 holiday resorts and 416 cultural heritage sites under the state and provincial-level protection. Nine classical gardens in Suzhou were put on the world cultural heritage site list by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Environment and current issues
By the end of 2002, environmental monitoring stations at various levels totaled 111. There were 23 nature reserves, covering a total area of 669,000 hectares. A sum of 1.1 billion yuan had been invested in 850 projects tackling pollution. Suzhou and 6 other cities won the honorary title of "National Model Environment Protection City". All cities and counties are piloting the construction of ecological zones at a national level.
The province has generally fulfilled the state requirement of controlling pollutant discharge from 12 outlets. Nanjing, Lianyungang, Suzhou and Nantong have reached the state standards for surface water quality and air quality. Improvements have been achieved in the water quality of Taihu Lake and Huaihe River, with the water now being mid-level eutrophic from heavy eutrophic a few years ago.