It has an area of 14,176 square kilometers.
Its population is about 2.99 million.
Datong is situated in the temperate continental zone with four distinct seasons. The spring is windy, with average temperature from 6.5 to 9.1 degrees Celsius. It's mild and rainy in Summer, temperature ranging from 19 to 21.8 degrees Celsius. The precipitation in summer makes up 64.3% of the annual total. The cloudy and cool weather in autumn is comfortable, with average temperature going between 5.8~8.4 degrees Celsius. Winter is the longest season, with January being the coldest. The average temperature is 12.8~-6.3 degrees Celsius, and in January, it could fall to -11.3 degrees Celsius.
It is an important industrial and railway center in a region of great coal deposits. A major, highly mechanized coal mine is there. Coal mining is the dominant industry. Manufactures are a mix of light and heavy industrial products. The GDP per capita was ¥10550 (ca. US$1270) in 2003, ranked no. 242 among 659 Chinese cities.
The town was founded as Pingcheng in 200 BC during the Han Dynasty. Located near the Great Wall Pass to Inner Mongolia it blossomed during the following period and became a stop-off point for Camel Caravans moving from China into Mongolia and beyond. It was sacked at the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty. Pingcheng became the capital of Northern Wei from 398 AD until 494 AD. The famous Yungang Grottoes were constructed during the later part of this period (460 - 494 AD). The city was renamed Datong in 1048 AD and sacked again at the end of the Ming Dynasty (1649 AD), but promptly rebuilt in 1652 AD.
The Yungang Grottoes are a collection of shallow caves located 16 km west of Datong. It has been enlisted as the World Heritage Site. There are over 50,000 carved images and statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas within these grottoes, ranging from 4 centimeters to 7 meters tall. Most of these icons are around 1000 years old. Within the city itself, there are a few surviving sites of historical interest such as the Nine Dragon Screen, the Huayan Monastery, and the Shanhua Monastery. Further afield is the Hanging Temple built into a cliff face near Mount Heng. Most of the historical sites in this region date to the Tang and Ming dynasties.