The Wei and Jin period lasted from 220 to 589 A.D. By the end of 2th century, Eastern Han power was declining, resulting in a long split of states. For example, Wei, Shu and Wu were three major kingdoms then. The Three Kingdoms Period was ended by the Western Jin, though it survived for mere 52 years from 265 to 316 A.D. China again entered a time of chaos after Western Jin’s short reunification. Eastern Jin (317-420 A.D.) was then established by the remaining baronages south of the Yangtze River. In the chaotic north, sixteen kingdoms came into being and strived for power.
The Western Jin Dynasty witnessed fast economic development. Ethnic minority groups gradually moved inland from the north and west. The dynasty also witnessed the best time of Neo-Taoism. Buddhism and Taoism spread and developed in contentions with the former being favored and protected by the government. In art and literature, poems by Seven Talents of Jian An and Tao Yuanming were much lauded, while handwritings of Wang Xizhi, paintings of Gu Kaizhi and Dunhuang Cave art were all considered perfect.
Zu Chongzhi made outstanding achievement in the calculation of the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Jia Sixie wrote one of the greatest books on agriculture, Qi Min Yao Shu.
Southern and Northern period witnessed reign of two dynasties. In the south there were four consecutive dynasties over 160 years: the Song, Qi, Liang and Chen. In the north, there were Bei Wei, Dong Wei, Xi Wei, Bei Qi, and Bei Zhou.
Likewise, economy during the southern and northern period developed primarily in the south. People in the central region moved to the south, spread better technology and added to the local labors to the area. Yang Zhou and its neighboring areas was the most economically advanced region during the southern dynasty’s reign.
Culturally Neo-Taoism continued to be highlighted. The chaotic time provided ground for growth of free thoughts. Poetry also thrived during this time.
Diplomatically communications with foreign countries extended to Korea, Japan, Middle Asia, Rome as well as Southeast Asia.
Though the southern and northern dynasties were one of the few periods when the north was separated from the south, and hindered economic growth. Different nationalities in the Yellow River area came collaborate with each other because of the ethnic minorities’ reign. Furthermore, northern groups were gradually assimilated by the Han nationality. This period became an important time in the evolvement of the Chinese nationalities.