The Han dynasty was a period not only known for scientific and artistic advancements, but also for the geographic expansion that took place during this period. The Han dynasty geography was characterized by expansion and a somewhat complicated system of fiefs and princedoms. The dynasty was divided into the Western Han or the Former Han and the Eastern Han or the Later Han.
During the Western Han, the capital was situated in Chang’an. This area was administered in regions with subordinate commanderies and princedoms. The major areas of the principal fiefdoms are known today as the provinces of Shandong, Jiangsu and Hebei. Kings were appointed and each was given a kingdom to administer. The capital region was known as Sili and the main commandery unit was known as the Jingzhao government.
The period that marked the expansion of the Han dynasty geography was during Emperor Han Wudi’s rule. Expansion of the empire first occurred during the defeat of the Xiongnu and later through the advance of the Chinese armies into the Gansu province in North Korea. The expansion also included the Yunnan and Guangzhou provinces as well as the northern area of Modern Vietnam.
The militaries of the Western Han dynasty were also sent to their northern neighbors to conquer the nomad confederation enemies and at the same time expand their territories. The southern part of the Korean peninsula was even taken under the Three Han tribes. During the shift from the Western to the Eastern Han period, the governmental structure established under the former empire was more or less retained. There were, however, some changes perpetuated by the new empire.
During the Eastern Han period, the capital was shifted from Chang’an to Luoyang. The administration area of the Western Regions was moved to Qiuci while dependant non-Chinese kingdoms were installed in the empire’s border regions. However, several rebellions including the infamous Yellow Turban rebellion led to the decentralization of the Eastern Han government and later led to the Han dynasty downfall.
Despite being overthrown, facts such as these still contribute to the legend that is the Han dynasty. In the end, the Han dynasty geography stands as a testament to the might of this former superpower.