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Hangzhou History



The renowned Neolithic and pre-historic culture of Hemudu has been discovered to have inhabitants in Yuyao(more evidences and details in Zhejiang Museum), an area (Now a city) a hundred kilometers east of the City of Hangzhou, as far back as seven thousand years ago, when rice was first cultivated in southeastern China. Before the Zhou Dynasty, Hangzhou belonged to the area of Yangzhou which was one of Nine States in ancient China. In the 21BC century, Monarch Yu visited southern areas of Yangze River, and met the local leuds in Queji ( Now Shaoxing, Zhejiang province). because of his arrival by boat and his name in Chinese pronunciation, and then we called Hangzhou as Yuhang. 


In the Spring and Autumn period, Wu state and Yue state contended for hegemony, previously Hangzhou belonged to Wu, but late ruled by Yue after it beat Wu.  The city of Hangzhou was founded about 2,200 years ago during the Qin Dynasty, but the urban city at present didn't come into being but a beach appeared and disappeared in the tides, furthermore the West Lake didn't shape either. At the times of Han Dynasty, Hangzhou belonged to Wu eparchy and the irrigation works developed rapidly with a good effect, and the West Lake was separated from the sea, finally became an inland lake. In the period of Three Kingdoms, Southern and Northern Dynasty, Hangzhou was still administered by the Wu state belonged to the massive area of Yangzhou. Owing to the wars and invasions from northern minorities, the government of Jin Dynasty removed to the Southern Yangze River and greatly prompted the exploiture of southern area in culture and economy. And the West Lake was called as the Taurus Lake. In 326, Buddhist, Huili from India established Lingyin Temple which was the oldest temple in the southern area of Yangze River, and the places of interest and celebrated scenic spots of West Lake were explored and cultivated as sequential personage like anchoret, Xu Mai, and Taoist, Ge Hong who was one of the greatest founders and core character in the history of Taoism, wrote books, studied the knowledge of alchemy and spread the religious beliefs. It is listed as one of the Seven Ancient Capitals of China, but the city wall was not constructed until the Sui Dynasty, and in this period, Hangzhou was firstly called as the name and became one of the important states in Sui Dynasty, besides its urban area was originally founded at the foot of Phoenix mountain, and this was the initial city of Hangzhou. In 613, Yang Guang ordered to excavate the southern Canal of Yangze River with full length of over 400 kilometers, staring from Zhenjiang via Suzhou, Jiaxing to Hangzhou. There were 15380 civilians settled in Hangzhou, and this is also the first record of census of Hangzhou population.


 In Tang Dynasty, the area administered in the name of Hangzhou expanded, and with the help of the canal playing a great role in Hangzhou, the society, economy, culture developed dramatically and the population of inhabitants also increased up to 580,000. At this time, Hangzhou turned to be one of three treaty ports in ancient China, the others were Yangzhou and Guangzhou. Thanks to Bai Juyi, an official sent by Tang government, the West Lake became the renowned scenic spot. 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 China during the tenth century, along with Nanjing and Chengdu. 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 Japan, Korea, and the Khitans. In 1089, Su Shi constructed a 2.8 km long dike across the West Lake, which Qing 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 to evolve into a marshland. The Su Dike built by Su Shi, and the Bai Dike built by Bai Juyi, a famous Tang Dynasty Poet who was once the governor of Hangzhou, are both built out of the mud cleaned from the bottom of the Lake. The Lake is surrounded by hills on north and west side.


The Baochu Pagoda sits on the Baoshi Hill to the north of the Lake. Hangzhou was the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty from the early 12th century until the Mongol invasion of 1276, and was known as Lin'an. 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 the gravity centre of Chinese civilization as what used to be considered the "central China in the north was taken by the Jin, an ethnic minority dynasty. Numerous philosophers, politicians, and men of literature, including some of the most celebrated poets in Chinese history such as Su Shi, Lu You, and Xin Qiji 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 located in the Yuhang district. During the time of 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 Encyclopaedia 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. 

The Venetian Marco Polo visited Hangzhou in the late 13th century and referred to the city as "beyond dispute the finest and the noblest in the world.. Although he exaggerated that the city was over one hundred sq.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. 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 remained an important port until the middle Ming Dynasty 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 more well-known Kaifeng Jewish community. After 1949, Hangzhou changed greatly; nowadays it is the national key scenery tour city, the famous historical and cultural city and the provincial capital of Zhejiang. Via the large-scale construction of urban city and gardens, Hangzhou has a new look and becomes the famed city full of humanistic and historical sites other than many natural enchanting types of scenery.



Hangzhou's industries have traditionally been textile, silk and machinery, but electronics and other light industries are developing, especially since the start of the new open economy in 1992. Wahaha, the nation's largest beverage company is headquartered in the city. Longjing tea is produced on the outskirts of town at Longjing or Dragon Well. It is among the only remaining places where tea is still baked by hand and is said to produce one of the finest green teas in all of China, earning a spot in the China Famous Tea list. The GDP per capita was ¥38247, ranked no. 8 among 659 Chinese cities. The 2005 overall rank of Hangzhou among all the Chinese cities is No.5. In 2004, 2005, 2006 Forbes magazine ranked Hangzhou the number 1 city in China for business. Nowadays, thanks to the updated blueprint from Municipality, the programming of its development will be emphasized particularly on leisure, tourism, and cartoon industries as well as the hi-tech R&D center. A more mature and healthy economic layout will tremendously promote the further refinement of harmonious Hangzhou.



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