Hunan Province is located on the south bank of the Yangtze River (Changjiang, 长江), about half way along its length. Shanghai lies 1000 km away, Beijing 1200 km away, and Guangzhou 500 km away.
Hunan is situated between 109°-114° east longitude and 20°-30° north latitude. The east, south and west sides of the province are surrounded by mountains and hills, such as the Wuling Mountains to the northwest, the Xuefeng Mountains to the west, the Nanling Mountains to the south, and the Luoxiao Mountains to the east. The mountains and hills occupy more than 80% of the area and the plain comprises less than 20% of the whole province.
The Xiangjiang, the Zijiang, the Yuanjiang and the Lishui Rivers converge on the Yangtze River at Lake Dongting (Dongting Hu, 洞庭湖) in the north of Hunan. The center and northern parts are somewhat low and a U-shaped basin, open in the north and with Lake Dongting as its center. Most of Hunan Province lies in the basins of four major tributaries of the Yangtze River.
Lake Dongting is the largest lake in the province and the second largest freshwater lake of China. Due to the reclamation of land for agriculture, Lake Dongting has been subdivided into many smaller lakes, though there is now a trend to reverse some of the reclamation, which had damaged wetland habitats surrounding the lake.
Hunan's climate is subtropical, with mild winters and plenty of precipitation. January temperatures average 3 to 8 °C while July temperatures average around 27 to 30 °C. Average annual precipitation is 1200 to 1700 mm.