|Name||江苏 (jiāng sū) ['river' 'revive'] Old Name Kiangsu WG|
|Population||79.498 million (5.78 %) [5th] comparison table|
|Area||103,000 km2 [39,768 mile2] (1.07 %) [24th]|
|GDP||81,874 (26.02 %) [6th]|
Jiangsu is a coastal province straddling the Yangzi river as it reaches the sea. Due to its position on the route of the Grand Canal industrial development started hundreds of years ago making Jiangsu a key province in China.
Jiangsu's history goes back at least 5,000 years. It was part of the Wu kingdom in the Warring States period, and then became integrated into China during the Qin and Han dynasties before re-emerging as the Kingdom of Wu again briefly during the Three Kingdoms period. The Wu language dialect is still a widely spoken dialect of Chinese in southern areas. During this time many Han people fled war in the north to settle in Jiangsu and they soon outnumbered the indigenous Yi people. Jiankang (on the site of present day Nanjing) was the capital of the southern China dynasties before China was re-united under the Sui dynasty.
The city has always been an important crossing point of the Yangzi (the first bridge 5,108 feet [1,557 meters] long was built as late as 1968). It is strategically situated on a narrow portion of the Yangzi before it flows into its estuary. Nanjing became the country's capital back in early Ming dynasty times hence its name which means southern capital. Under Qing rule the original province called 'Nanzhili' was split into modern Jiangsu and Anhui. Later on Nanjing (then known as Nanking WG) was the capital of Hong Xiquan's Taiping Rebellion and there is a museum in the city telling the story of the rebellion. Sun Yatsen chose Nanjing as his Republican Capital of China in 1912; it remained the key city in China up until the Japanese occupation of the city in 1937 which resulted in the infamous Nanjing Massacre ➚. Although 5,000 years of history can be traced in the city, it has been so scarred by invasion (the Manchu conquest; Taiping Rebellion) and natural disasters that not much of the ancient city remains. Some traces of its prosperity during Ming times are still visible including the vast city wall 21 miles [34 kms] long; 52 feet [16 meters] high (the longest ever built in the world). Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang the founder of the Ming dynasty has his mausoleum at Xiaoling complete with the traditional Sacred Way lined with stone animals and officials. At the foundation of his dynasty the city was China's capital and a Forbidden City was constructed to be rebuilt later on a grander scale at Beijing. Nearby is the mausoleum ➚ of Sun Yatsen (Zhongshanling). Lake Xuanwu north of the city has a busy and attractive park. The Purple Mountains or Zijin Shan ➚ are just east of the city, the mountains have been called the ‘Circling dragon’ above the city which represents the ‘Crouching tiger’ giving the siting of the city very auspicious Feng Shui. The Purple mountains offer pleasant relief from the summer heat of the city, as together with Chongqing and Wuhan, Nanjing makes up the 'three furnaces' of China. On the top of the hills is an ancient astronomical observatory ➚ where many comets were cataloged.
Suzhou contributes the 'su' part of Jiangsu's name. Dating back 2,500 years, it is a city with many canals and gardens. Laid out in a neat grid it has six gateways. Its famous 150 gardens were once owned by wealthy private families. One of the oldest and most famous is Canglangting ➚ (Pavilion of the surging waves) built in the Song dynasty by scholar Su Zimei. The natural style of Chinese gardens had a great impact on garden design in Europe. The gardens often contain sculptures and bizarre rock formations. Zhouzhengyuan ➚ (Garden of the humble administrator) is the largest garden built during the Ming dynasty. Suzhou has been dubbed the 'Venice of the Orient' with its many canals and waterways. Suzhou also has an impressive museum of Opera and Theater ➚. Nearby is Pan Men ➚ with a modern scenic area with many examples of Suzhou's heritage. Both Wuxi and Suzhou are cities whose long prosperity goes back to the production of silk, the original luxury textile.
When tin mining had exhausted all the deposits in the area, the city of Wuxi was given a new name, which means without tin. Jasmine tea is produced in this area. In both Suzhou and Wuxi, the canals, gardens, and bridges over them feature significantly. Kunqu Opera, China's oldest traditional opera is performed here.
Zhenjiang is a city with historic buildings serving as the eastern gateway to Nanjing just up river. Close by is Jinshan, originally an island in the Yangzi, has at its top 197 feet [60 meters] the Cishou Pagoda - Temple of Benevolence and Longevity. On the route to the summit is 1,500 year old Jinshan Temple once home to thousands of monks. Jiaoshan nearby has a story of Jiao Guang ➚ who lived there as a hermit but it is most famous for its collection of calligraphy including that of Qing Emperor Qianlong. Beigu cliff ➚ is well known due its mention in the classic book Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Yangzhou at the junction of the Grand canal and Yangzi has declined in importance over the years. Its chief trade was the production of salt during the Qing dynasty, this industry has been replaced with the transportation of coal from Shandong. The tomb of Sui dynasty emperor Yangdi is located at Xuzhou which boasts the Han Terracotta Army ➚, a smaller but impressive echo of the Qin Terracotta Army at Xi'an. Nearby the battle at Huaihai decided the outcome of the Civil War between the Nationalists and Communists just outside the town.
Changzhou is on the southern continuation of the Grand Canal towards Suzhou and is a prosperous old city with a large textile industry while Nantong is a large port and industrial city at the mouth of the Yangzi.
Taihu Lake ➚ near to Wuxi, Jiangsu is a beautiful tourist spot. It covers 593,053 acres [2,400 sq kms] but only 7 feet [2 meters] deep, it is nearly round and supplies water to surrounding farmland. The lake has an island Dongting Xishan which is worth a visit. There are a number of famous, ornamental gardens on the banks (Plum Garden; Tortoise head Garden; Li Garden). Close by is Erquan Pool ➚ located within Xihui Park ➚, the water is considered some of the very best in China and the pool has been immortalized by the traditional erhu ➚ (Chinese violin) melody “The Moon mirrored in the Pool”. Up until recently pollution had started to become a problem but with tough control measures the purity of the water has improved.
On the north bank of Taihu Lake near Yixing are limestone caves at Shanjuan and Zhanggong. The caves have impressive stalagmites and stalactites. Zhanggong cave is named after the Daoist immortal Zhang Guolao. The city of Yixing has a pottery that makes much admired red teapots ➚.
Closeness to the sea ensures Jiangsu has hot, humid summers and generally cooler, drier winters. It is China's lowest lying area crisscrossed with drainage channels and lakes. The copious water on alluvial soil forms rich agricultural land providing rice; wheat; fish and many other crops including silk. Heavy and light industries are both well represented giving it over 10% of China's total GDP. The southern portion of the province has developed very rapidly in modern times, outpacing Guangdong province and is much richer than the northern part. The province is rich in fish and farmland and is known as the 'Land of fish and rice'.
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