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Located in the downstream Yangtze River drainage basin and Yangtze River Delta economic zone, Nanjing has always been one of China's most important cities. Apart from having been the capital of China for six dynasties and of the Republic of China, Nanjing has also served as a national hub of education, research, transportation and tourism throughout history. It is also the second largest commercial center in the East China region, behind only Shanghai.

Geography and climate 

Nanjing, with a total land area of 6,598 square kilometers (2,547.5 sq mi), is situated in one of the largest economic zones of China, the Yangtze River Delta, which is part of the downstream Yangtze River drainage basin. Yangtze River flows past the west side of Nanjing City, while the Ningzheng Ridge surrounds the north, east and south side of the city. The city is 300 kilometers (186 mi) west to Shanghai, 1,200 kilometers (746 mi) south to Beijing, and 1,400 kilometers (870 mi) east to Chongqing.


Nanjing has a temperate climate, and is under the influence of East Asia Monsoon. Seasons are distinct in Nanjing, with usually hot summers and plenty of rain-fall throughout the year. Along with Wuhan and Chongqing, Nanjing is often referred to as one of the "Three Furnacelike Cities" along the Yangtze River due to the historically high temperature in summer. The average temperature during the year is 15.7 C (60 F), with the highest recorded temperature being 43 C(109 F) (July 13, 1934) and the lowest -16.9 C (2 F) (Jan 6, 1955). On average it rains 117 days out of a year and the average annual rain-fall is 1,106.5 millimetres (43.6 in). From mid-June to end of July is the plum blossom Meiyu season, during which the city experiences a period of mild rain as well as dampness. According to the city government's website, the best seasons of Nanjing in a year are from September to December.

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. Sun Quan relocated it's captial to Nanjing after Liu Bei's suggestion as Liu Bei was impressed by Nanjing's irreplaceable geographic position when negotiating an alliance with Sun Quan. Sun Quan then renamed the city from Moling  to Jianye  shortly after.

Early development

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 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 wealthy population after Nanjing once again regained the political spotlight of China. A number of huge department stores such as Zhongyang Shangchang sprouted, attracting merchants all over China to sell their products in Nanjing. In 1933, the revenue generated by food and entertainment industry in the city has exceeded the sum of the output of manufacturing and agriculture industry. One third of the city population worked in the service industry, while prostitution, drugs and gambling also thrived.

In 1950s, the CPC 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. Over-enthusiastic in building a "world-class" industrial city, leaders of Nanjing also made many disastrous mistakes during the development, such as spending hundreds of millions of Yuan to mine for non-existent coal, resulting in the negative economic growth in the late 60s.


There is a large park called Purple Mountain East of the lake, Northeast of city center. It contains Ming Dynasty tombs, the mausoleum of Dr. Sun Yat-sen (leader of the 1911 revolution) and other impressive stuff. You could spend a day or more just exploring this. Admission varies but is around 80RMB. The park has a shuttle "train" you can ride and is included in the price of certain tickets.

There is also a cable car going up the hill, and if you have the right shoes, feel free to walk down from the hill. Prices are fairly acceptable, for one-ride 25 RMB, for up-and-down 45 RMB.

Presidential Palace is a great way to spend a day exploring the headquarters of past emperors and later, the Nationalist government. The Palace includes the offices of many top governemental officials, including Chang Kai-shek and Sun Yat-sen, as well as the residence of Sun Yat-sen. The informational placards are printed in four languages. Admission is about 40RMB.

Nanjing Museum, right on the main street of Nanjing, offers you a lot of different culture scenes, including the sailing of Zheng He (the eunuch admiral of the Ming Dynasty who explored at least to Africa, perhaps further) and real-silk-making. It's a great place to spend either a hot or rainy day.

 There is a monument to the 1937 Nanjing massacre by Japanese troops of many thousands of Chinese (around 300,000), including a partly excavated mass grave where visitors can see the skeletons. Don't go there if you're sensitive, because it can really scare you. There is no entrance fee.

One of the bridges over the Yangtze has sculptures that are a classic of socialist art. Workers and farmers have tools; military have weapons. They all have books, presumably of Mao's Thought. The bridge was built after the clinch between the Soviet Union and China in the early 60's. The Soviet Advisors told Mao that it wouldn't be possible, but the Chinese built it anyway. This was the first major project built entirely by Chinese, without foreign help. Very interesting monument, and on the other side there are completely new towns in the making (Finished around spring 2006) including direct subway-connection.

Stay  safe

Nanjing is not as dangerous as Shanghai and not as safe as Hangzhou. Take care of your belongings, since there are quite a lot of pickpockets, but little violent crime.