Hebei has a long history. Relics of early human beings scatter about all parts of Hebei Province. As early as more than two million years ago, there were ancient humans multiplying and living there. The area of Hebei went through the stages of primitive people, the matriarchal clan society and the patriarchal clan society. The legendary Emperor Huang and Emperor Yan used to move about in Hebei and left the footprints of the deceased Emperors Yao, Shun and Yu in remote antiquity.
After the unification of China by Emperor Qin, the prefecture and county system was pushed. The eight prefectures of Shanggu, Yuyang, Youbeiping, Guangyang, Handan, Julu, Dai and Henshan were successively established within the borders of Hebei.
During the period of the West Han Dynasty, the whole country was divided into thirteen feudal provincial ministries (also called thirteen cantons). The north of Hebei was mainly under the jurisdiction of Youzhou feudal provincial ministry; the central and southern part belonged to Jizhou feudal provincial ministry; the north of Zhnagjiakou is the area where Hun and Wuhuan moved about.
After the unification of China by the Sui Dynasty, Emperor Wen abolished prefecture and established canton with the county under the direct jurisdiction of the canton. During the period of Emperor Yang’s reign, the canton was changed into prefecture with the county under the jurisdiction of the prefecture. There were then 14 prefectures in Hebei, such as Beiping and Henshan. Since the Sui Dynasty, Jizhou and Youzhou have been missing in the historical records as the names of the first class administrative areas.
At the beginning of the Tang Dynasty, the whole country was divided into ten daos according to the general topography. The administrative area of present-day Hebei was then mainly Hebei Dao with a small part under the jurisdiction of Hedong Dao and Guannei Dao. The word “Hebei” appeared in the Han Dynasty more than two thousand years ago.
At the beginning of the Song Dynasty, the whole country was divided into fifteen lus. The present-day Hebei was mainly under the jurisdiction of Hebei Lu and later was divided into the two administrative areas of East Hebei Lu and West Hebei Lu.
In the Yuan Dynasty, the system of administrative province was practiced. The present-day Dabu of Hebei Province, which was near Dadu (present Beijing) of the Yuan Dynasty, was the area of “Fuli” under the direct jurisdiction of the central secretariat.
At the beginning of the Ming Dynasty, the national capital was set up in Yingtian Prefecutre (the present-day Nanjing City of Jiangsu Province). The present-day Dabu of Hebei was then north Zhili Province. In the 19th year of Yongle’s period in the Ming Dynasty (the year 1421), the capital was moved to Shuntian Prefecture (the present-day Beijing) and the name of Beijing was changed to Jingshi. Most of present-day Hebei Province was under the jurisdiction of Jingshi.
In the Qing Dynasty, the system of administrative province was maintained. Hebei was called Zhili Province.
After the foundation of the Republic of China, the national government then established the capital in Nanjing. The present-day realm of Hebei was mainly under the jurisdiction of Zhili Province. Later since Zhili Province didn’t deserve its name, the name was changed into the present name, Hebei Province, in 1928.
After the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, it remained as Hebei Province. In 1952, Pingyuan Province was abolished and the three counties of Wu’an, Shexian and Linzhang were put under Hebei Province. In the same year, Chaha’er Province was also removed and its original two special zones, north Chaha’er and south Chaha’er, were put under Hebei Province. In 1956, Jehol Province was abolished and most of its original jurisdiction area was put under Hebei Priovince. In 1958, the counties such as Shunyi, Yanqing, Pinggu, Tongxian, Fangshan, Miyun, Huairou and Daxing in Hebei Province were put under Beijing City. In 1973, the five counties of Jixian, Baodi, Wuqing, Jinghai and Ninghe in Hebei Province were put under Tianjin City. Since then the scale of the jurisdiction area of present-day Hebei Province has been established.