SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA ›› 2019, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (4): 596-605.doi: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2019.04.009

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The Dynamic Evolution and Its Driving Factors of China's Marine Salt Industry Since the 13th Century

Junlin Bao1(), Shu Gao2()   

  1. 1. Institute of Chinese Historical Geography, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
  • Received:2018-03-26 Revised:2018-06-11 Online:2019-04-10 Published:2019-04-10
  • Supported by:
    National Social Science Foundation of China (18BZS156), The Youth Fund of the Humanities and Social Science of the Ministry of Education in China (17YJC770001)


Sea salt production was an important part of coastal economy; China’s sea salt industry had a long history. Since the 13th century, sea salt economy had a rapid process of development and became the center of China’s salt industry. Under the background of industrialization and urbanization, sea salt production gradually declined and salt area gradually reduced. How to improve the sustainable development of China’s coastal salt industry and enhance its international competitiveness is one of important issue of coastal economic development in the current. Based on historical documents analysis and within the perspective of sea salt production, we analyzed spatial and temporal variations of sea salt production and the driving mechanism through combing historical process of coastal salt industry development, and discussed the impacts of regional environmental differences and management policy. This study is helpful to better understand the current historical stage of coastal salt development and the environment impact, and to provide theoretical and historical reference for coastal development and planning. In this paper, the coast was divided into three areas, i.e., north, east and south coast. Through geographical approach and according to a variety of historical documents and local chronicles associated with sea salt industry during the 13-20th centuries, we evaluated sea salt industry development and its evolution mechanism, and revealed spatial-temporal changes of sea salt industry and its driving factors. The research shows that: 1) Sea salt industry in historical periods was characterized by decocted salt production had become the focus of salt industry for a long time, which was gradually replaced by the solar salt industry; the evolution process was significant differences in different salt area: the northern salt area had the fastest progress than eastern salt area and southern salt area. 2) The focus of sea salt production had a migration changes from eastern to northern coast, and the Huainan saltworks of eastern salt area was the sea salt production center during the 13-19th centuries. 3) Natural and social-economic factors were the important driving factors resulted in the changes of spatial-temporal distribution of sea salt production; the differences of coastal natural environment promoted the different evolution process of salt production, and the monopolistic management policy in salt industry was the key to changes of sea salt industry. Thus, follow the regional difference, coastal development need to break through the limit of local interests and improve efficiency of sea salt production in coastal area with the resources and ecological advantage, and promote production agglomeration from disadvantage coast to advantage coast. This is not only the result of sea salt industry of long-term historical development in China, but also the current urgent need of the international competitiveness of coastal development. In addition, on January 1, 2017, China began formally implement the salt industry management system reform, and the old salt management system lasted for more than two thousand years will gradually open. It was predictably that the reform will have a profound impact to sea salt industry and coastal development, which the location and resources advantages will be highlighted, and will also improve the international competitiveness of China’s sea salt industry. The sustainable development of future sea salt industry will depend on management policies based on resources and ecological constraint in coastal region.

Key words: sea salt economy, costal resources and environment, sea salt industry

CLC Number: 

  • K901.9