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( ; Postal map spelling: Hangchow) is a sub-provincial city located in the Yangtze River Delta in the People's Republic of Chinamarker, and the capital of Zhejiangmarker province. Located southwest of Shanghai, as of 2004 the entire Hangzhou Region ("shì", 杭州市) or Prefecture-level city had a registered population of 6.4 million people. The urban agglomeration of the Hangzhou metropolitan area (杭州市区) has a resident population of 3.9319 million as of 2003, of which 2.6367 million are permanent residents. There are 1.91 million 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 Lakemarker (Xī Hú, 西湖) as the most well-known location.


Early history

The celebrated Neolithic culture of Hemudu inhabited Yuyaomarker, an area (now a city) 100 kilometers south-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 canalevolved 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 Chinamarker during the tenth century, along with Nanjingmarker and Chengdumarker. 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 Japanmarker, Koreamarker, 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 Lakemarker, which Qingmarker 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 Pagodamarker sits on the Baoshi Hill to the north of the lake.

Southern Song

Hangzhou was chosen as the new capital of the Southern Song Dynasty when they regrouped after their defeat at the hands of the Jin in 1123. It remained the capital from the early 12th century until the Mongol invasion of 1276, and was known as Lin'an (臨安). It served as the seat of the imperial government, a center of trade and entertainment, and the nexus of the main branches of the civil service. During that time, the city was a sort of gravitational center of Chinese civilization: what used to be considered "central China" in the north was taken by the Jin, an ethnic minority dynasty ruled by Jurchens.

Numerous philosophers, politicians, and men of literature, including some of the most celebrated poets in Chinese history such as Su Shi (苏轼), Lu You (陆游), and Xin Qiji (辛弃疾) came here to live and die. Hangzhou is also the birthplace and final resting place of the famed scientist Shen Kuo (1031-1095 AD), his tomb being located in the Yuhangmarker district.

During the Southern Song Dynasty, commercial expansion, an influx of refugees from the conquered north, and the growth of the official and military establishments, led to a corresponding population increase and the city developed well outside its 9th century ramparts. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, Hangzhou had a population of over 2 million at that time, while historian Jacques Gernet has estimated that the population of Hangzhou numbered well over one million by 1276. (Official Chinese census figures from the year 1270 listed some 186,330 families in residence and probably failed to count non-residents and soldiers.) It is believed that Hangzhou was the largest city in the world from 1180 to 1315 and from 1348 to 1358.

Because of the large population and densely-crowded (often multi-story) wooden buildings, Hangzhou was particularly vulnerable to fires. Major conflagrations destroyed large sections of the city in 1132, 1137, 1208, 1229, 1237, and 1275 while smaller fires occurred nearly every year. The 1237 fire alone was recorded to have destroyed 30,000 dwellings. To combat this threat, the government established an elaborate system for fighting fires, erected watchtowers, devised a system of lantern and flag signals to identify the source of the flames and direct the response, and charged more than 3,000 soldiers with the task of putting out fires.
The city of Hangzhou was besieged and captured by the advancing Mongol armies of Kublai Khan in 1276, three years before the final collapse of the empire. The capital of the new Yuan Dynastymarker was established in the city of Khanbaliq (Beijing).

The Venetianmarker Marco Polo supposedly visited Hangzhou in the late 13th century. His book refers to the city as "beyond dispute the finest and the noblest in the world." He called the city Kinsay which simply means "capital" in Chinese (actually Polo used a Persianized version of the word). Although he exaggerated that the city was over one hundred miles in diameter and had 12,000 stone bridges, he still presented elegant prose about the country: "The number and wealth of the merchants, and the amount of goods that passed through their hands, was so enormous that no man could form a just estimate thereof."

The renowned 14th century Moroccanmarker explorer Ibn Battuta said it was "the biggest city I have ever seen on the face of the earth."

Ming and after

The city remained an important port until the middle of the Ming Dynastymarker era when its harbor slowly silted up.

As late as the latter part of the 16th and early 17th centuries, the city was an important center of Chinese Jewry, and may have been the original home of the better-known Kaifeng Jewish community

In 1856 and 1860, the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom occupied Hangzhou and caused heavy damage to the city.

Hangzhou was ruled by Republic of Chinamarker government under the Kuomintang from 1928 to 1949. On May 3, 1949, the People's Liberation Army entered Hangzhou and the city came under Communist control. After Deng Xiaoping's reformist policies began in 1978, Hangzhou took advantage of being situated in the Yangtze River Delta to bolster its development. It is now one of China's most prosperous major cities.

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 Rivermarker (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 Zhejiangmarker 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.

Administrative Divisions

Hangzhou Region or prefecture-level city contains the Hangzhou metropolitan area (eight districts), 3 metropolitan counties, and 2 ordinary counties. The central six urban districts occupy 682 km² (263.4 mi²) and have 1,910,000 people. The two suburban districts occupy 2,642 km² (1020 mi²) and have 1,950,000 people.

It has direct jurisdiction over 8 districts (区 qu), 3 county-level cities (市 shi) and 2 Counties (县 xian):

Hangzhou City Proper
Gongshu-qu 拱墅区
Xiacheng-qu 下城区
Shangcheng-qu 上城区
Jianggan-qu 江干区
Xihu-qu 西湖区
Hangzhou Suburban and Rural
Binjiang-qu 滨江区
Yuhang-qumarker 余杭区
Xiaoshan-qu 萧山区
Lin'an-shimarker 临安市
Fuyang-shimarker 富阳市
Jiande-shi 建德市
Tonglu-xianmarker 桐庐县
Chun'an-xian 淳安县


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 foodprocessing.


Hu Xueyan Residence, a historic mansion in Hangzhou

Hangzhou is renowned for its historic relics and natural beauty. It is often known as one of the most beautiful cities in China. It has been ranked as one of the ten most scenic cities in China. Although Hangzhou has been through many recent urban developments, it still retains its historical and cultural heritage. Today, tourism remains an important factor for Hangzhou's economy. One of Hangzhou's most popular sights is West Lakemarker. The lake itself covers an area of 6 km2 (600 hectares) and includes some of Hangzhou's most famous historic and scenic places. Adjacent to the lake is a scenic area covering over 50 square kilometres. The area includes historical pagodas, cultural sites, as well as the natural beauty of the lake and hills. There are two causeways across the lake.

Scenic places near West Lake:
  • Jingci Temple (净慈寺) is located just south of West Lake.
  • Lingyin Templemarker (灵隐寺 "Soul's Retreat") is located about 2 km west of West Lake. This is believed to be the oldest Buddhist temple in the city, which has gone through numerous destruction and reconstruction cycles.
Hangzhou pagoda bridge
  • Baochu Pagodamarker (保俶塔) is located just north of West Lake on top of Precious Stone Hill (宝石山)
  • Yue-Wang Temple (岳王庙, "King Yue's Temple") or Yue Fei Miao is on the north west shore of West Lake and was originally constructed in 1221 in memory of General Yue Fei, who lost his life due to political persecution.
  • Leifeng Pagodamarker

Other places of interest:
  • The world's largest tidal bore races up the Qiantang River through Hangzhou reaching up to in height.
  • The Residence of Hu Xueyan 胡雪岩故居 located on Yuanbao Street was built in 1872 by Hu Xueyan, a native of Anhui, a very successful businessman. After restoration it was opened to the public in 2001
  • Liuhe Pagodamarker or six harmonies pagoda is located on Yuelun Hill on the north bank of Qiantang River
  • Confucius Temple
  • Chenghuang Temple and Pagoda Scenic Area
  • Dreaming of the Tiger Spring
View from the Chenghuang pagoda area
  • The Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Hangzhoumarker is one of the oldest Catholic churches in China, dating back 400 years to the Ming dynastymarker.
  • Fenghuang Temple (凤凰清真寺) is one of the oldest mosques in China, the current construction at the intersection of Xihu Road (西湖大道) and the Central Zhongshan Road (中山中路) dating back 700 years to the Yuan dynastymarker.
  • Xixi National Wetland Park established with the aim of preserving the wetland ecological system, it covers an area of about 10km2. Fish ponds and reed beds have been restored and it is home to many types of birds. There is a temple and several historic rural houses.
  • Hangzhou Botanical Garden
  • Hangzhou Zoo
  • Old China Street on He Fang Street (He Fang Jie), which offers various kinds of souvenirs and renowned Longjing tea
  • Jade Springs (Yu Quan)

Famous People

Famous Chinese composer Yang Yunhan was born in Hangzhou in August 27, 1987. Rola Chen was born here also in 1987.


The Confucius Temple of Hangzhou
The native residents of Hangzhou, like those of Zhejiangmarker and southern Jiangsumarker, 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 Jiangsumarker. 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 Humarker 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.


Bars alongside the street of Hangzhou.
Qiantang River Bridge

Hangzhou is serviced by the Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airportmarker, which has direct flights to Japanmarker, Koreamarker, Malaysiamarker and Singaporemarker, regional routes to Hong Kongmarker and Macaumarker, as well as numerous domestic routes. Located just outside of the city in the Xiaoshan District, it is one of the major secondary international airports in Chinamarker.

Hangzhou Railway Stationmarker (colloquially the "City Station" 城站) serves the city centre with direct trains departing for Shanghai, (journey time now 1hr18, 55 yuan) and most other major cities in China. The significantly less modern Hangzhou East Railway Station (colloquially "East Station" 东站) has many through trains and local trains, though few terminating or departing.

Trains leaving Hangzhou reach more than 20 cities directly, including Beijing (北京) (1650 km), Shanghai (上海) (200 km), and Xi'an (西安) (1550 km).

The construction of the Shanghai-Hangzhou Maglev Train Line has been debated for several years, and on 18 August 2008 Beijing Authorities gave the project the go-ahead, to start construction in 2010. Transrapid has been contracted to construct the line.

North, east, south and west long-distance bus stations offer regular large and small coach services to towns within Zhejiang province and surrounding provinces.

Public transport within Hangzhou city is primarily in the form of an extensive public bus and trolleybus network. As with many Chinese cities, bicycles and electric scooters are also very popular, with the city having dedicated bike lanes on most major roads. Hangzhou has an extensive public bike rental system.

Taxi are also very common. With its line of the newest Hyundai Elantras and Volkswagen Passats, and tight regulations (compulsory A/C, handicap service, lake-blue appearance etc.), the city's taxi service is rated amongst the top in the country.

The Hangzhou Metro is currently under construction, and is planned to have 8 lines upon completion. The first line has a target opening date of December 28, 2011.

Colleges, universities and high schools

See also List of universities in the People's Republic of China

Note: Institutions without full-time bachelor programs are not listed.

High Schools

Chinese sayings

A typical Chinese garden's window decoration in Hangzhou
"Be born in Suzhoumarker, live in Hangzhou, eat in Guangzhoumarker, die in Liuzhoumarker." (生在苏州, 活在杭州, 吃在广州, 死在柳州)
:The meaning here lies in the fact that Suzhoumarker was renowned for its beautiful and highly civilized and educated citizens, Hangzhou for its scenery, Guangzhoumarker for its food, and Liuzhoumarker for its nanmu wood coffins which supposedly halted the decay of the body.

"Heaven Above, Suzhou and Hangzhou below." (上有天堂,下有苏杭)
:This phrase has a similar meaning to the English phrases "heaven on Earth" or "God's country".

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Hangzhou is twinned with:

See also

Further reading


External links

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