Shanxi is considered the cradle of the Chinese civilization and has a rich history and cultural heritage. One of the earliest ancestors of the Chinese, Emperor Yan (c.25th century BC), was said to have lived around Changzhi, in southeast Shanxi. Even earlier, (4,000-5,000 years ago), emperors Yao, Shun and Yu had capitals in Shanxi. The Xia Dynasty (c.21st century-16th century BC), the first slave-owning state in Chinese history, was founded in the southern part of Shanxi.
Written records show Shanxi with more than 3,000 years of history. it has 35,000 relic sites that include architecture, grottoes, houses, murals, and sculptures with distinct features, so Shanxi is said to be an “ancient Chinese culture museum”. Over 70 percent well preserved ancient architecture from before the Jin (265-420) and Song (AD 420-479) dynasties is in Shanxi province. Shanxi has 119 relics under national protection, the largest number in the country. The old town of Pingyao and the Yungang Grotto are on the world cultural heritage list.
Over a period of five centuries, during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), Shanxi merchants left behind spiritual wealth through their thrift, diligence, discipline, integrity, and management skills.