Shishou is located in the south of the province, near its border with Hunan. The Shishou City National Baiji Reserve for Chinese river dolphins is nearby. It shares its name with a stream flowing into the Yangtze River.
In June 2009, Shishou was rocked by violent protest after a man, Tu Yuangao, was found dead, supposedly due to suicide, outside the Yonglong hotel. The hotel is owned by a relative of Shishou's mayor. Tu, 24, was the hotel's chef. Fearing a cover up, Tu's family refused to accept that his death was a suicide, and guarded his body while awaiting investigation. When police tried to forcefully remove Tu's body, local residents joined Tu's family, blocking the hotel entrance from the police. On June 19 a large number of local residents guarded the hotel, fighting with the police, including armed police. Confrontations between the police and residents continued outside the hotel, and on June 20, the municipal government began cutting internet connections in Shishou. On June 21, the police managed to break through the crowd and took Tu's corpse to a crematorium, apparently without giving the family the investigation it had requested.