- Shenyang -

What You Need To Know

Shenyang, formerly known by its Manchu name Mukden (Manchu: ᠮᡠᡴᡩᡝᠨ) or as Fengtian (Chinese: 奉天; pinyin: Fèngtiān), is the provincial capital and largest city of Liaoning Province, People’s Republic of China, as well as the largest city in Northeast China by urban population. According to the 2010 census, the city’s urban area has 6.3 million inhabitants, while the total population of the Shenyang municipality, which holds the administrative status of a sub-provincial city, is up to 8.1 million. Shenyang’s city region includes the ten metropolitan districts of Shenyang proper, the county-level city of Xinmin, and two counties of Kangping and Faku. In the 17th century, Shenyang was conquered by the Manchu people and briefly used as the capital of the Qing dynasty. Along with its nearby cities, Shenyang is an important industrial center in China, and serves as the transportation and commercial hub of China’s northeast — particularly with Japan, Russia and Korea. A center of heavy industry in China since the 1930s, and the spearhead of the Chinese central government’s Northeast Area Revitalization Plan, the city has been diversifying its industry.


Area: 12,942 km²

Population: Estimate 8.23 million


  • Shenyang Currency Exchange. Chinese Yuan (also known as Renminbi, rmb for short) is the official and legal currency in circulation. Use of foreign currencies is generally not allowed.

Ancient era

Archaeological findings show that humans resided in present-day Shenyang as early as 8,000 years ago. The remains of the Xinle culture, a late neolithic period society over 6,800–7,200 years old,  are located in a museum in the north part of Huanggu District. It is complemented by a recreated village on site. A wood-sculptured bird unearthed there is the earliest cultural relic in Shenyang, as well as one of oldest wood sculptures found anywhere in the world. The city now known as Shenyang was first established in about 300 BCE during the Warring States period by Yan general Qin Kai, who conquered the Liaodong region, and was then named Hou City (侯城; Hóu Chéng). However, around 350 years later during the reign of Emperor Guangwu of Han, the city was sacked and burnt by the Donghu nomads and subsequently abandoned. It came back to prominence during early Liao dynasty and was known as the Shen Prefecture (瀋州; Shěn Zhōu) through to the end of Jin dynasty, and became the Shenyang Circuit (瀋陽路; Shěnyáng Lù) during the Yuan dynasty. During the Ming dynasty, it was designated as a “guard town” (militarized settlements, such as walled/heavily garrisoned cities or towns) named Shenyang Central Guard (瀋陽中衛; Shěnyáng Zhōngwèi) and gradually became one of the most important strongholds beyond the Shanhai Pass.



People native to Shenyang speak the Shenyang dialect, a variant of Northeastern Mandarin. Shenyang Dialect was formed in early period of Qing Dynasty. Shenyang dialect is similar to the other Northeastern dialects and also to the national standard of Mandarin, Putonghua, but is known as a form of Dongbeihua and has a wide range of vocabulary that is not part of the country’s official language. As Shenyang dialect is mutually intelligible with most forms of Mandarin, some people prefer to characterize it as an “accent” rather than a different “dialect.”


Shenyang is an important industrial center in China and is the core city of Shenyang Economic Zone, a New Special Reform Zone. It has been focused on heavy industry, particularly aerospace, machine tools, heavy equipment and defence, and recently on software, automotive and electronics. The heavy industry started in the 1920s and was well developed before the second world war. During the first five-year plan (1951–1956) many factories were built in Tiexi district. At its peak in the 1970s, Shenyang was one of the top three industrial centers in China alongside Shanghai and Tianjin, and was at one time being considered for upgrading to a direct-controlled municipality. However, as the planned economy fell out of favor after the 1980s, the heavy industry had declined gradually and the city became a rust belt city, with hundreds of thousands of people laid off from bankrupted state-owned factories. However, the economy of the city has revived significantly in recent years, thanks to the central government’s “Revitalize Northeast China” campaign and the rapid development of software and auto manufacture industries. Investment subsidies are granted to multinational corporations (MNCs) that set up offices or headquarters in Shenyang. The services sector — especially banking — has been developing in Shenyang. Shenyang has several foreign banks, such as South Korea’s Hana Bank, Japan’s Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Hong Kong’s Bank of East Asia, Singapore’s United Overseas Bank and the Britain-based HSBC. In 2006, the city hosted a total of 1,063 banks and bank branches and 144 insurance-related companies. By 2010, it aims to attract 30 foreign banks and 60 non-bank financial institutions. The city has been identified by the Economist Intelligence Unit in the November 2010 Access China White Paper as a member of the CHAMPS (Chongqing, Hefei, Anshan, Maanshan, Pingdingshan and Shenyang), an economic profile of the top 20 emerging cities in China.  Numerous major industrial companies have their headquarters in Shenyang. Brilliance Auto is a major Chinese automobile manufacturer, and most of its production plants are also located in Shenyang. Shenyang Aircraft Corporation produces airplanes for civilian use as well as for the PLAAF.  Neusoft Group is the biggest software company in China. Shenyang Machine Tool Group is the largest machine tool manufacturer in China. Tyco International, General Motors and Michelin Shenyang Tyre Corporation are expanding their operations in Shenyang. The total GDP of the city of Shenyang is 383.66 billion yuan in year 2009 (ranked 1st out of the 58 cities and counties in Liaoning province). The GDP per capita of the city of Shenyang is 78490 yuan in 2009 (ranked 3rd out of all 58 cities and counties in Liaoning province).



Shenyang has many parks, among the most famous are the 14.5 km (9.0 mi) South Canal Linear Parks (南运河带状公园) situated along the homonymous river traversing the southern parts of Dadong, Shenhe and Heping District, covering an area of approximately 1,400,000 m2 (350 acres). It comprises 6 large parks and 18 riverside gardens, with exotic variety of vegetations such as rose, apricot, bladder cherry, honeylocust, natal lily, scarlet sage, morning glory and black-eyed-Susan, and extensive greenspaces of peach, pear, crabapples, gingkos, weeping willows, pines and black locusts.[55] It is the largest stretch of vegetated urban open space in Shenyang, contributing significantly to the city’s current 40% “greening ratio”, and was instrumental in the city being awarded the “national forest city” title in 2005. According to the Shenyang Environmental Protection Bureau, winter usage of coal by boiler stations for hydronic district heating is the source of 30% of the air pollution in Shenyang. Half of the 16 million metric tons of coal consumed by the city during the winter of 2013~2014 were used for heating. Other major factors include dust from construction sites (20%), vehicle exhaust (20%), industrial emissions (10%) and extraterritorial dust (20%, mostly yellow dust from Gobi Desert). However, air quality was described by the Bureau as “slowly improving”.


Health systems

Shenyang has 731 medical and healthcare centers, 63,000 healthcare staff and 3.02 healthcare worker per 1,000 people. There are 34,033 hospital beds and 45,680 various kinds of medical and technical personnel, among whom there are 17,346 licensed doctors, 1,909 assistant licensed doctors, and 16887 certified nurses. The average expected life-span of the people in Shenyang is 73.8 years. The China Medical University (中国医科大学; Zhōngguó Yīkē Dàxué) in Huanggu District is one of the top 10 medical schools in China and is IMED-listed. Its diplomas are accredited worldwide. Shenyang is home to China Medical University Hospital, China Medical University 1st, 2nd (renamed Shengjing Hospital in 2003 and 4th Affiliated Hospital, 202 Hospital, Liaoning Tumor Hospital, Shenyang No.7 People’s Hospital, Shenyang Orthopaedics Hospital, Shenyang Army General Hospital, North Hospital, and various other hospitals and clinics.



Shenyang Mandarin (Chinese: 沈阳话) is a dialect of NortheasternMandarin used by people in and around Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province and the largest city in Northeast China. It is very close to Standard Chinese but has some notably distinctive words.


Old City

Layout of Shenyang’s old city walls. The old city of Shenyang resided almost entirely within the modern day Shenhe District, and used to have two city walls. Situated roughly within the area bounded by the four “Shuncheng” (顺城; “along the city walls”) roads/streets in Shenhe District, the (now-demolished) square-shaped inner city wall marked the bounds of ancient Shenyang. The earliest wall was built in 926 during early Liao dynasty to settle Northern Song civilians the Khitans abducted from raids to use as slave labourers, and was then made of rammed earth because the city was merely a small settlement at the time (historically the administrative center of the Liaodong region was at Liaoyang). However, in 1368, Hongwu Emperor of the newly founded Ming dynasty ordered a new regional military command — the Liaodong Regional Military Commission (遼東都指揮使司) — to be established, and Shenyang was made a prominent regional “guard town” (衛所). In 1388, Min Zhong (閔忠), the newly appointed city commissioner of the Shenyang Central Guard, wrote to Hongwu Emperor immediately upon his tenure requesting permission to upgrade the city wall, and the old wall was made taller and thoroughly reinforced with overlaid bricks. According to History of Ming, the reconstructed Ming-era wall was 2.5 zhàngs (8 metres or 26 feet) tall, more than 1 zhàng (3.2 metres or 10.5 feet) wide at the top, and 9 lis and 30 bus (about 5.2 kilometres or 3.2 miles) long. It has two layers of moats dug outside, each being 3 zhàngs (9.6 metres or 31.5 feet) wide and 8 chis (2.56 metres or 8 feet 4.8 inches) deep, fed with water from Shen River. There were four city gates, each at the center of one side, connected by two main roads that intersected at Central Temple of the city’s center in a “+” fashion. This Ming wall was heavily damaged in 1625 after the Manchu laid siege and captured the city, with only the north wall and gate (which had undergone reinforcing reconstructions in 1545 under the orders of Jiajing Emperor) remained intact. The Manchu leader Nurhachi however saw the strategic value of the city, and decided to formally relocate his Later Jin capital from Liaoyang to Shenyang, and ordered the city wall to be rebuilt. According to Annals of Mukden (盛京通志), the new city wall was a standard black brick wall standing at a height of 3.5 zhàngs (about 12.5 metres or 41.0 feet), a width of 1.8 zhàngs (about 6.4 metres or 21.0 feet) and a total length of 9 lis and 332 bus (about 6.4 kilometres or 4.0 miles) long, complete with 12 towers (8 gate and 4 corner) and a 14.5 zhàngs (about 52-metre or 171-foot) wide moat. The city gates were increased from four to eight, though the old Ming-era north gate and tower was preserved but sealed shut, later known as the “Ninth Gate” (九門). The outer city wall, called the “peripheral wall” (邊牆; Biān Qiáng) or “pass wall” (關牆; Guān Qiáng), was actually a rammed earth rampart built in 1680 to expand the urban area outside the inner city. It was almost round in shape, standing at a height of 7.5 chis (around 2.7 metres or 8 feet 10.3 inches) and an overall length of 32 lis and 24 bus (about 20.7 kilometres or 12.9 miles), and also had eight gates known as the “peripheral gates” (邊門; Biān Mén). The corresponding inner and outer gates were linked by roads that intersected within the inner city in a “#” pattern around the Mukden Palace. Nearly all of these city walls and gates were demolished after 1949. Two gates and one corner tower of the inner wall were rebuilt during the 1990s. There had however been proposals to rebuilt the other gates and towers in preparation to the 12th National Games in 2013. Around 2.5 km (1.6 mi) outside Shenyang’s former outer wall, there were four pagodas each located within an associated Tibetan buddhist temple, namely the East Pagoda in Yongguang Temple (永光寺), the South Pagoda in Guangci Temple (廣慈寺), the West Pagoda in Yanshou Temple (延壽寺) and the North Pagoda in Falun Temple (法輪寺). They were built in 1643 and completed in 1645. The four pagodas are identical white Buddha-stupas as tall as 26 m (85 ft). Nowadays only the temple for the North Pagoda is well preserved, the East and South has only the pagodas left, and the temple for the West Pagoda was rebuilt in 1998. Both the Temple of Heaven and Temple of Earth were also to be found in the old city during the Qing dynasty. They were smaller replicas of Beijing’s counterparts. Neither exists today.



The Shenyang city government legally recognizes five religious beliefs — Buddhism, Taoism, Islamism, Catholicism and Protestantism. During the period between 1949 and 1976, religious practices were significantly repressed, but have recovered since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As of 2012, Shenyang has seven city-level religious organizations, with 289 legally registered places of worship, 483 clerics and about 400,000 followers.



As the transport hub of Northeast China, Shenyang is served by air, rail, a currently two-line subway system and an extensive network of streets and expressways, with bus service throughout the city. Terminal 3 at Shenyang Taoxian International Airport is the largest terminal in the northeast China. A new tram network system was built in the city’s south in 2013.



Shenyang has a monsoon-influenced humid continental climate (KöppenDwa) characterised by hot, humid summers due to the monsoon, and dry, cold winters due to the Siberian anticyclone. The four seasons here are distinctive. Nearly half of the annual rainfall occurs in July and August. Monthly mean temperatures range from −11.0 °C (12.2 °F) in January to 24.7 °C (76.5 °F) in July, for an annual average of 8.39 °C (47.1 °F). The frost-free period is 183 days, which is long considering the severity of the winters. The city receives 2,468 hours of bright sunshine annually; monthly percent of possible ranges from 45 percent in July to 62 percent in October. Extreme temperatures range from −33.1 °C (−28 °F) to 39.3 °C (103 °F)