World Facts Index > China > Chengdu

Chengdu is the provincial capital of southwest China's Sichuan province, the largest of all provinces in China with a population of more than 100 million and a territory the size of Brazil. Located in the central part of Sichuan province, to the west of the Sichuan Basin, Chengdu city extends 192 km east-west and 166 km south-north, occupying an total area of 12,390 square kilometers. It has distinctly marked four seasons with a yearly average temperature of around 16.4 degree centigrade.

Historically the jurisdiction of Chengdu has undergone repeated re-adjustments and expansions, and today Chengdu has under its jurisdiction seven districts, namely Jinjiang, Qingyang, Chenghua, Jinniu, Wuhou, Qingbaijiang, Longquanyi; four sub-cities (Dujiangyan, Pengzhou, Qonglai an Chongzhou) and eight counties. In 1983, the local legislative body designated the ginkgo as the municipal tree and the hibiscus as the municipal flower.

The Tianfu Square

As the center of the city, Tianfu Square covers an area of 88,368 square meters. Amidst the hubbub of the city and amongst a forest of high-rise buildings, the square with its lush lawns and beautiful flowers constitutes a unique scene. To the west of the square lies the landmark Huangcheng (Imperial City Wall) Mosque which has existed for hundreds of years until the construction of the square got under way, and it was thoroughly renovated in 1999. Standing to the north of the square is an art gallery, as well as the provincial exhibition hall where exhibitions of new industrial products alternate seasonally. The Jincheng Art Palace, once the largest of its kind in southwest China, is located to the east of the square and nearby is the well-known shopping center - the People's Department Store. Extending northward from Yanshikou (Salt Market Exit), across Shudu Avenue, and through to the Yudai (Jade Belt) Flyover is a huge underground shopping mall. Lying to its south exit is a wholesale market selling household items, which extends to Renmin Nulu (South People's Road). Close by, to the south of Tianfu Square, is the Chengdu Department Store.

As a hub of public transit, the Tianfu Square provides convenient access to some of the city's prominent tourist attractions such as Wenhua Gongyuan (Culture Park), Wenhuyuan Monastery, Wuhouci Temple, Baihuatan Lake and Qingniangong (Youth Palace).

Jinjiang District

Situated to the east of the city proper, the Jinjiang District is a busy commercial district with a population of 420 thousand. Clustered in this district are the provincial government offices, as well as major trade, financial and insurance enterprises. Starting from Yanshikou and extending eastward along East Avenue and Shudo Street, through to the time-honored golden business area - Chunxi Road and Commercial Market - is an immense business area. The city's prime department stores like the First and Second Department Stores, the Pacific Ocean and the Friendship Department Stores are all located within this district.

In the district, one can also see an array of establishments like restaurants, teahouses and entertainment rooms. Indeed, the district is a showcase of the lively and prosperous side of Chengdu city.

Qingyang District

This district is a belt-shaped area, 16 km east-west and 8 km south-north, covering an area of 67.78 square km, of which 13 square km is urban area. The district is home to many of the city's major tourist attractions and historical sites like Dufu Caotang (Straw Pavilion), Wenshuyuan Monastery, Huanhuaxi Rivulet and Culture Park. The Lamb Palace (from which the district got its name, Qingyanggong) is the most important Taoist Temple in West Sichuan, and it is known for its magnificient architecture. The district also sees a fledging industrial base centering around electronics, equipment and instruments, packaging, printing, auto parts, metal furniture and medicine.

Jinniu District

This district was first formed in 1960 with a total population of 580 thousand, including a rural population of 440 thousand. Lying in the northwest part of Chengdu city, the district covers an area of 108 square km. Based on the North Railway Station located within the district and Shangmao Dada (Business and Trade Avenue), the area is a major a commercial and trade center. The district contains 50-plus shopping centers and markets of various types, including the Hehuachi (Lotus) Market, the North Railway Station Market, Electronic Parts Market, Street of Capital Goods, Metal Materials Trading Market and Herbal Medicinal Market. Many large shopping buildings like Beiyuan Department Store, Southwest Shopping Tower, Cultural Shopping Mall, China World Tower and Blue Light Building have just been completed or are under construction.

The district also boasts a strong scientific research force, such as the prestigious Southwest Communication University and 29 other colleges and research institutes, providing a solid base for the district's rapid economic development.

History of Chengdu

Listed by the Chinese State Council as one of China's 24 most important cities in terms of historical and cultural significance, Chengdu's history dates back to over 2,300 years.

As early as 4th century BC, the Shu State moved its capital to where Chengdu city is presently located, and in the year 311 BC, the Qin people built a city wall of 12 li (6 km) in circumference and seven zhang (about 25m) high, which marked the formal establishment of Chengdu city. In 1985, an ancient building complex was unearthed by the west city gate of Chengdu, which was identified as a palace of the Shang Dynasty, built more than 3,600 years ago. This discovery pushes Chengdu's recorded history back over 1,000 years.

During the Western Han Dynasty (206-25 BC) the city was known as Brocade Cityfor its then-thriving silk brocade industry. During the Wudai Dynasty (907-960), the top of the city wall was extensively planted with hibiscus flowers, and at the time, the city was frequently referred to as Hibiscus City, a name by which it is stilled called today.

An Ancient City with Flourishing Industry and Commerce

In the Qin (221-206 BC) and Han (206 BC-220 AD) Dynasties, Chengdu was a well-known hub of commerce. By the Tang (618-907 AD) and Song (960-1279 AD) dynasties, the traditional business workshops were gradually replaced by a pattern of selling shops facing the street and manufacturing shops attached behind (qiandian houfang). The whole city consisted of five big commercial centers plus a large out-of-town hay market. Throughout the year, a theme fair would be held each month: January for lantern; February for flower; March for silkworm; April for brocade; May for fan; June for incense; July for seven treasures; April for fragrants; September for medicine; October for wine; November for plum and December for peach wooden charms. The city also saw brisk night fairs at the time. Today, people can still hear such names as Business Street and Button Fair Street, a reflection of the city's historical commerce.

China is the world's first country to use paper money, and Chengdu is the forerunner in China. Paper money was issued in Chengdu in the early North Song Dynasty (420-479), which greatly pushed the development of trade and economy. Chengdu is also the first place in the world to extract and use natural gas. That was in the Western Han Dynasty when Chengdu people utilized it to produce salt.

Contributions to World Culture

Papermaking is a great invention China brought to the world and Chengdu led the way in China in papermaking technique since it was first invented here (around 600-1200 AD). Paper produced in the city in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) was officially picked as the paper to print imperial decrees and edicts, as well as books for the State Library.

Woodblock printing is another great contribution China made to human civilization, and this printing technique was also originated in Chengdu. Among the Chinese Dunhuang documents stored in the London Museum, the woodblock-printed almanac produced in Chengdu around 220 AD is the earliest of its kind seen in the world. In the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), Chengdu was one of China's three major printing bases, and the height it reached in printing at the time was unparalleled across the country.

Chengdu is also a city renowned for its handicrafts. The lacquerware it produced in the Warring State and Han Dynasty (around 200 BC) enjoyed great reputation at home and abroad. Some of the exquisite lacquerware excavated in the Mawandui Han tome were made in Chengdu. As the origin and major production base of Chinese silk, Chengdu was reputed for producing in ancient times the sort of silk calledSichuan silk brocade, and a chunk of the silk brocade exported to Central Asia through the famous Silk Road was produced in Chengdu; the linen it manufactured was sold as far as to what is today's Afghanistan.

Tea-drinking originated in China where its origin was traced to Sichuan province, while Chengdu's Xinjin was the first to engage in tea trading. In the Tang and Song periods (600-1200 AD), Chengdu was China's principal tea production and trading center. During the Qing Dynasty (1616-1911 AD), Chengdu formed its unique style of tea drinking culture, which has been carried on to this day, and today Chengdu houses the largest number of teahouses in the world.


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