Nanjing has served as the capital of China during several historical periods, and the city is listed as one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. Nanjing means "southern capital" as it was the capital of China during six dynasties, as well as during the Nationalist rule in the 1930s.
Nanjing has a population of approximately 5.5 million people. The city is located west of Shanghai along the southern shore of the Yangtze River, the third longest river in the world and the longest river in China.
By Chinese standards Nanjing is a really nice city. It's not as big and busy as Shanghai and Beijing but it has many interesting historic attractions, a lot of tree-lined streets, great restaurants, and kind-hearted people. Nine of China's "key" (best) universities are located here, and there is a fairly bustling economy. It is the provincial capital of Jiangsu Province, the wealthiest province in China.
Occupying a strategic site on the south bank of the Yangtze River in a beautiful setting of lakes, rivers, wooded hills and crumbling fortifications, Nanjing is one of the best-known ancient capital cities in China and vaunts a long history and deep cultures. The excavation of the skulls of ancient prehistoric men in the city dates Nanjing's civilization back to 350 thousand years ago. The city itself was built more than 2,400 years ago in the area southwest of the huge Zhonghua Gate. The gate was critical for many military functions.
The building of the Grand Canal in Nanjing in 589 increased the city's economic importance. Nanjing became renowned for its forges, foundries, and weaving, especially for the veined brocade made in noble houses and monasteries.
In 1368, the first emperor of Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang, decided
to establish Nanjing as the capital of all China and constructed
what was the longest city wall in the world of that time where
it took 200,000 laborers 21 years to finish the project.The
present day city wall of Nanjing was mainly built during that
time, and it is the longest surviving city wall in the world.
During the times of Tang and Song Dynasties, Nanjing rivaled
nearby Hangzhou as the wealthiest in the country.
Nanjing's claims to be the capital was usurped by the heavily northern based Qing Dynasty in 1864, which ended up to be one of the saddest and most dramatic events in China's history. After the Opium War, the Treaty of Nanjing was signed in the city. Since the third century AD, ten dynasties in China, including the epochal Republic of China founded by Sun Yat-sen, established Nanjing as their capital.
In 1949, the victorious Communists decided to abandon Nanjing as their capital city, choosing instead the ancient and highly conservation city of Beijing in which to base the country's first modern government. Nowadays Nanjing remains an important rail junction and a major river port for large ships.
Nanjing is embraced by mountains on three sides and the natural moat, the Yangtze River on the north. The Mountain Stone on the west looks like a coiling dragon, while the Mountain Zhong on the east looks like a crouching tiger. The present city covers an area of 6,598 square kilometers (2,547.5 square miles). The city is 300 kilometers (186 miles) west of Shanghai, 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) south of Beijing, and 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) east of Chongqing.
Nanjing is endowed with rich natural resources, which include more than 40 kinds of minerals.Among them, iron and sulfur reserves take 40% of those of Jiangsu province; its reserves of Strontium rank first in East Asia and the South East Asia region.Nanjing also possesses abundant water resources, both from the Yangtze River and groundwater.In addition, it has several natural hot springs such as Tangshan Hot Spring in Jiangning and Tangquan Hot Spring in Pukou.
Surrounded by the Yangtze river and mountains, Nanjing also enjoys beautiful natural scenery.Natural lakes such as Xuanwu Lake and Mochou Lake are located in the center of the city and easily accessible to the public, while hills like Purple Mountain are covered with evergreens and oaks and host various historical and cultural sites.
Since the Three Kingdoms period, Nanjing has become an industrial center for textile and mint due to its strategic geographic location and convenient transportation.During the Ming Dynasty Nanjing's industry was further expanded, and the city became one of the most prosperous cities in China and even the world.It led in textile, mint, printing, shipbuilding and many other industries, and was the busiest business center in the Far East region.
Into the first half of the twentieth century, Nanjing has gradually shifted from a production hub into a heavy consumption city, mainly because of the rapid expansion of the wealthy population after Nanjing once again regained the political spotlight in China.
In 1950s, the Communist Party of China invested heavily in Nanjing to build a series of state-owned heavy industries, as part of the national plan of rapid industrialization.Electrical, mechanical, chemical and steel factories were established successively, converting Nanjing into a heavy industry production center of East China.
Nowadays, Nanjing has developed into a multiple producing industrial base in eastern China, an important hub of transportation and communication center, as well as one of China's four major scientific research and educational central cities. The current industry of the city basically inherited the characteristics of the 1960s, with electronics, cars, petrochemical, iron and steel, and power as the "Five Pillar Industries". Due to Nanjing's historical significance and natural beauty, tourism is also one of the main thriving industries of the city.
Nanjing is also one of the fifteen sub-provincial cities in the People's Republic of China's administrative structure, enjoying jurisdictional and economic autonomy only slightly less than that of a province.
Though this city has seen heaps of foreigners to last several dynasties, it is still not spoiled by travelers. The upcoming cosmopolitan city is rapidly changing to suit a westerner's environment with more fast food chains that include Burger King and Papa Johns, but the overall beauty and nature of this environment is still left intact.
As for safety, Nanjing is as safe as any larger city in China; there are always precautions for travelers to take in a foreign country. Therefore, as long as you watch out for the incoming bicycles, scooters, cars, and buses while crossing the road and do not put yourself in compromising situations, Nanjing is relatively safe.As a popular tourist destination, Nanjing is often cited as having a unique charm, with a vast number of cultural sites and pleasant natural surroundings perfectly blended together.