Hangzhou, China
 
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 Hangzhou, China

Hangzhou, China

Hangzhou is a sub-provincial city located in the Yangtze River Delta in the People's Republic of China, and the capital of Zhejiang province. Located 180 kilometres (112 mi) southwest of Shanghai, as of 2004 the entire Hangzhou Region ("shì",) or Prefecture-level city had a registered population of 6.4 million people. The urban agglomeration of the Hangzhou metropolitan area has a resident population of 3,931,900 as of 2003, of which 2,636,700 are permanent residents. There are 1,910,000 residents in the six urban core districts.

As one of the most renowned and prosperous cities of China for much of the last 1,000 years, Hangzhou is also well-known for its beautiful natural scenery, with the West Lake (Xī Hú,) as the most well-known location.

Early history

The celebrated Neolithic culture of Hemudu inhabited Yuyao, an area (now a city 100 kilometers east of Hangzhou), as far back as seven thousand years ago when rice was first cultivated in southeastern China. The area immediately surrounding the modern city of Hangzhou was inhabited five thousand years ago by the Liangzhu culture, so named for the small town of Liangzhu not far to the northwest of Hangzhou where the ancient jade carving civilization was first discovered.

The city of Hangzhou was founded about 2,200 years ago during the Qin Dynasty, but the city wall was not constructed until the Sui Dynasty (591). It is listed as one of the Seven Ancient Capitals of China.

Hangzhou is at the southern end of China's Grand Canal which extends to Beijing. The canal evolved over centuries but reached its full length by 609.

It was the capital of the Wuyue Kingdom from 907 to 978 during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. Named Xifu at the time, it was one of the three great centers of culture in southern China during the tenth century, along with Nanjing and Chengdu. Leaders of Wuyue were noted patrons of the arts, and especially of Buddhism and associated temple architecture and artwork. It also became a cosmopolitan center, drawing scholars from throughout China and conducting diplomacy not only with neighboring Chinese states, but also with Japan, Korea, and the Khitan Liao Dynasty.

In 1089, while the poet Su Shi (often known as Su DongPo) was the city's governor, he used 200,000 workers to construct a 2.8 km long causeway across the West Lake, which Qing Emperor Qianlong considered particularly attractive in the early morning of the spring time. The lake was once a lagoon tens of thousands of years ago. Silt then blocked the way to the sea and the lake was formed. A drill in the lake-bed in 1975 found the sediment of the sea, which confirmed its origin. Artificial preservation prevented the lake from evolving into a marshland. The Su Causeway built by Su Shi, and the Bai Causeway built by Bai Juyi, a famous Tang Dynasty poet who was once the governor of Hangzhou, were both built out of mud dredged from the bottom of the lake. The lake is surrounded by hills on the northern and western sides. The Baochu Pagoda sits on the Baoshi Hill to the north of the lake.

Geography and climate

Hangzhou is located in northern Zhejiang province, eastern China, at the southern end of the Grand Canal of China, on the plain of the mid-lower reaches of the Yangtze River (Cháng Jiāng). The prefecture-level region of Hangzhou extends west to the border with the hilly-country Anhui Province, and east to the flat-land near Hangzhou Bay. The city center is built around the eastern and northern sides of the West Lake, just north of the Qiantang River.

Hangzhou's climate is Humid Subtropical (Koppen classification Cfa) with four distinctive seasons, characterised by long, very hot, humid summers and short, cool to cold, cloudy and dry winters (with occasional snow). The average annual temperature in Hangzhou is 16.2°C. Hangzhou receives an average annual rainfall of 1450 mm. Hangzhou is affected by the Plum Rains of the Asian Monsoon in June. In late summer (August to September), Hangzhou, along with other cities in Zhejiang province, suffer typhoon storms, but typhoons seldom strike it directly. Generally they make land along the southern coast of Zhejiang, and affect Hangzhou with strong winds and stormy rains.

Economy

Hangzhou's economy has rapidly developed since its opening up in 1992. It is an industrial city with many diverse sectors such as in light industry, agriculture, textile, It is also considered a important manufacturing base and logistics hub for coastal China.

In 2001, the GDP of the whole city amounts to RMB 156.8 billion which ranks the second among all of the provincial capitals except for Guangzhou. The city has tripled GDP and Per capita GDP in the last seven years, with GDP increasing from RMB ¥156.8 billion in 2001 to RMB ¥478.1 billion in 2008 and GDP per capita increasing from USD 3,025 to USD 10,199.

The city has developed many new industries since, they include medicine, information technology, heavy equipment, automotive components, household electrical appliances, electronics, telecommunication, fine chemicals, chemical fibre and food processing.

Culture

The native residents of Hangzhou, like those of Zhejiang and southern Jiangsu, speak a Wu dialect. However, the Wu dialect varies throughout the area where it is spoken, hence, Hangzhou's dialect differs from regions in southern Zhejiang and southern Jiangsu. In addition, Mandarin is also spoken.

Tea is an important part of Hangzhou's economy and culture. Hangzhou is best known for originating Longjing, a famous variety of green tea. Furthermore, there are many types of Longjing tea, the most famous being Xi Hu Long Jing. Known as the best type of Long Jing tea, Xi Hu Long Jing is grown near Xi Hu in Hangzhou, hence its name.

Further, Hangzhou is known for its artistic creations, such as silk, umbrellas, and Chinese hand-held folding fans.

Hangzhou cuisine is the representative of Zhejiang Cuisine, one of China’s eight cuisines. And it wins reputation for freshness, tenderness, softness, smoothness of its dishes with mellow fragrance. A great poet of Song Dynasty once praised it as follows: there’s no food that can compare with the Hangzhou cuisine.

Famous dishes like West Lake Sour Fish, Dongpo Pork, Longjing Shrimp Meat, Jiaohua Young Chickens, Steam Rice Flower and Pork Wrapped by Lotus Leaves, Braised Bamboo Shoots and Lotus Root Powder are widely known and popular among both local people and tourists.

 

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