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Chengdu, formerly romanized as Chengtu, is the provincial capital of Sichuan province in Southwest China, as well as a major city in Western China. It holds sub-provincial administrative status. As of 2014 the administrative area houses 14,427,500 inhabitants with an urban population of 10,152,632. According to the 2010 census, with 10,484,996 inhabitants in its built-up (or metro) area including Guanghan City in Deyang and Xinjin County, Chengdu is the fifth-most populous agglomeration in China. Chengdu is one of the most important economic, financial, commercial, cultural, transportation, and communication centers in Western China. Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is one of the 30 busiest airports in the world, and Chengdu Railway Station is one of the six biggest railway stations in China. Chengdu also hosts many international companies and more than 12 consulates. More than 260 Fortune 500 companies have established branches in Chengdu due to huge demand of Western China. In 2006, it was named China’s 4th-most liveable city by China Daily.
The fertile Chengdu Plain, on which Chengdu is located, is also known as the “Country of Heaven” (Chinese: 天府之国; pinyin: Tiānfǔzhiguó), a phrase also often translated as “The Land of Abundance”. The discovery of the Jinsha site suggests the area of Chengdu had become the center of the bronze age Sanxingdui culture around the time of the establishment of the state of Shu, prior to its annexation by Qin in 316 BC.
Archaeological discoveries at the Sanxingdui and Jinsha sites have established that the Chengdu region was inhabited over four thousand years ago and was an important centre of a unique ancient culture during the period of Shang and Zhou dynasties.
In the early 4th century BC, the 9th king of the state of Shu, Kaiming IX, moved his capital from today’s nearby Pixian to the city’s current location, and said to have named the city Chengdu.
The state of Shu was conquered by the State of Qin in 316 BC, and a new city was founded by the Qin general Zhang Yi (who as a matter of fact had argued against the invasion). This can be seen as the beginning of the Chinese Chengdu.
Han to Qing
The Dujiangyan Irrigation System built in 256 BC still functions today.
As a central city for at least 2000 years, Chengdu’s influence gradually expanded from the Sichuan basin to Western China. At its height, Chengdu was named “One of the Five Metropolis” in China. During the Three-Kingdom period, Zhuge Liang, the prime minister of Shu kingdom, called Chengdu “the land of abundance”. Chengdu became one of the foremost commercial cities in China during the Tang dynasty more than 1,200 years ago, second only after Yangzhou (simplified Chinese: 扬一益二; traditional Chinese: 揚一益二; literally: “Yangzhou first Yizhou (Chengdu) second”). Li Bai, the famous poet during the Tang dynasty, eulogized the city as “Chengdu lies above empyrean”. Su Shi, the eminent writer during the Song dynasty, hailed Chengdu as “the southwestern metropolis”.
During the partition following the fall of the Eastern Han dynasty—i.e., the era of the Three Kingdoms, Liu Bei founded the southwest kingdom of Shu-Han (221–263) with Chengdu as its capital. Over time, Chengdu had been the capital of six local feudal reigns of which Shu-Han is the best known.
During the Tang dynasty, both the “Poet God” Li Bai and the “Poet Sage” Du Fu spent some part of their lives in Chengdu. Du Fu constructed the celebrated “Caotáng” (thatched cottage or grass-hut) in the second year of his four-year stay (759–762). But today’s Caotang, a rather sumptuous house in the traditional style, was only constructed in 1078 in memory of Du Fu.
Chengdu was also the birthplace of the first widely used paper money in the world (Northern Song dynasty, around 960 AD). The Qingyang Gong Taoist temple was built in Chengdu in the 9th century, meaning “Green Goat”.
In the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, Chengdu again became the capital of an independent kingdom: Shu was founded in 907 AD by Wang Jian and was conquered by the Later Tang in 925. Later Shu was founded in 934 by Meng Zhixiang and was conquered by the Song Dynasty in 965. At around the end of Song dynasty, a rebel leader set up the capital of a short-lived kingdom in Chengdu, called Dashu (Chinese: 大蜀; pinyin: Dà shǔ).
In 1279, the Mongols sacked Chengdu and over a million of its inhabitants were estimated by author Charles Horner to have been killed. During the Yuan dynasty, Marco Polo visited Chengdu and wrote about the Anshun Bridge (or an earlier version of it) in Chengdu. He referred to Chengdu as “Sindafu” (“Cheng Du Fu”) as the capital of the province of the same name.
In 1644, at the end of the Ming dynasty, Zhang Xianzhong, a rebel leader established a short-lived Daxi Kingdom (大西) in Sichuan, which he renamed Xijing (西京 ‘Western Capital’), as the capital. Zhang was said to have massacred large number of people in Sichuan and Chengdu. Chengdu was said to have become a virtual ghost town frequented by tigers. The depopulation of Sichuan necessitated the resettlement of millions of people from other provinces during the Qing dynasty.
Huangchengba in 1911
In 1911, the Railway Protection Movement centered in Chengdu helped trigger the Wuchang Uprising, which led to the Xinhai Revolution that overthrew the Qing dynasty.
During the War of Resistance/World War II, the capital city of China was forced to move inland from Nanjing to Wuhan in 1937 and from Wuhan to Chengdu, then from Chengdu to Chongqing in 1938, as the Kuomintang (KMT) government under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek ultimately retreated to Sichuan to escape from the invading Japanese forces. They brought with them into Sichuan business people, workers and academics, who founded many of the industries and cultural institutions which continue to make Chengdu an important cultural and commercial production center. Chengdu had become a military center for the KMT to regroup in the War of Resistance, and while out of reach of the Imperial Japanese ground forces and escort fighter planes, the then highly advanced twin-engine long-ranged G3M “Nell” medium bombers were routinely flown in to conduct massive aerial bombardments of both civilian and military targets in Chongqing and Chengdu; the massed formation of the G3M bombers provided heavy firepower against Chinese fighter planes assigned to the defense of Chongqing and Chengdu, which continued to cause problems for the Japanese attacks. However, in late 1940, unbeknownst to the Americans and European allies, the Imperial Japanese appeared in the skies over Chongqing and Chengdu with the world’s most advanced fighter plane at the time: the A6M “Zero” fighter that dominated the skies over China against the increasingly obsolete Russian-made Polikarpov I-15/I-153s and I-16s that were the principal fighter planes of the Chinese Nationalist Air Force; that which would later prove to be a rude awakening for the Allied forces in the Pacific War following the attack on Pearl Harbor. One of the first American ace fighter pilots of the war and volunteer for the Chinese Nationalist Air Force, Major Wong Sun-shui (nicknamed “Buffalo” by his comrades) died as a result of battling the Zero fighters in defense of Chengdu on 14 March 1941.
40th Bombardment Group Boeing B-29-5-BW Superfortress 42-6281 “20th Century Unlimited” at Hsinching Airfield (A-1), China, advanced China Base of the 40th Bomb Group after completion of a raid on Anshan, Manchuria. Mission #4, 29 July 1944
In 1944, the American XX Bomber Command launched Operation Matterhorn, an ambitious plan to base B-29 Superfortresses in Chengdu and strategically bomb the Japanese Home Islands. The Operating base was located in Xinjin Airport in the southwestern part of the Chengdu metropolitan area. Because the operation required a massive airlift of fuel and supplies over the Himalayas, it was not a significant military success, but it did earn Chengdu the distinction of launching the first serious retaliation against the Japanese homeland.
People’s Liberation Army troops entered to Chengdu on December 27, 1949
During the Chinese Civil War, Chengdu was the last city on the Chinese mainland to be held by the Kuomintang. President Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo directed the defence of the city from Chengdu Central Military Academy until 1949, when the city fell into Communist hands. The People’s Liberation Army took the city without any resistance after a deal was negotiated between the People’s Liberation Army and the commander of the KMT Army guarding the city. On 10 December the remnants of the Nationalist Chinese government evacuated to Taiwan.
The industrial base is very broad, including light and heavy manufacturing, aluminum smelting and chemicals. The textile industry remains important, with cotton and wool milling added to the traditional manufacturing of silk brocade and satin.
Chengdu is the headquarters of the Chengdu Military Region. Until the end of the year 2015, due to the revocation of military reform in Chengdu, West Theater is founded and Headquarter is stationed in Chengdu.
The Chengdu Tianfu District Great City is a sustainable planned city that will be outside of Central Chengdu, and is expected to be completely built later in the decade. The city is also planned to be self-sustaining, with every residence being a two-minute walk from a park.
The vast plain on which Chengdu is located has an elevation ranging from 450 meters to 720 meters.
Northwest Chengdu is bordered by the high and steep Longmen Mountain and in the west by the Qionglai Mountains, the elevation of which exceeds 3,000 m (9,800 ft) and includes Miao Jiling (5,364 m, 17,598 ft) and Xiling Snow Mountain (5,164 m, 16,942 ft). The western mountainous area is also home to a large primitive forest with abundant biological resources and a giant panda habitat. East of Chengdu stands the low Longquan Mountain and the west bordering area of the hilly land of middle reaches of Min River, an area noted by several converging rivers. Since ancient times, Chengdu has been known as “the Abundant Land” owing to its fertile soil, favorable climate, and novel Dujiangyan Irrigation System.
Chengdu is located at the western edge of the Sichuan Basin and sits on the Chengdu Plain; the dominating terrain is plains. The prefecture ranges in latitude from 30° 05′ to 31° 26′ N, while its longitude ranges from 102° 54′ to 104° 53′ E, stretching for 192 kilometres (119 mi) from east to west and 166 km (103 mi) south to north, administering 12,390 square kilometres (4,780 sq mi) of land. Neighbouring prefectures are Deyang (NE), Ziyang (SE), Meishan (S), Ya’an (SW), and the Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture (N). The urban area, with an elevation of 500 m (1,600 ft), features a few rivers, three of them being the Jin, Fu, and Sha Rivers. Outside of the immediate urban area, the topography becomes more complex: to the east lies the Longquan Range (龙泉山脉) and the Penzhong Hills (盆中丘陵); to the west lie the Qionglai Mountains, which rise to 5,364 m (17,598 ft) in Dayi County. The lowest point in Chengdu Prefecture, at 378 m (1,240 ft), lies in the southeast in Jintang County.
Chengdu has a monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cwa) and is largely mild and humid. It has four distinct seasons, with moderate rainfall concentrated mainly in the warmer months, and relieved from both sweltering summers and freezing winters. The Qin Mountains (Qinling) to the far north help shield the city from cold Siberian winds in the winter; because of this, the short winter is milder than in the Lower Yangtze. The 24-hour daily mean temperature in January is 5.6 °C (42.1 °F), and snow is rare but there are a few periods of frost each winter. The summer is hot and humid, but not to the extent of the “Three Furnaces” cities of Chongqing, Wuhan, and Nanjing, all which lie in the Yangtze basin. The 24-hour daily mean temperature in July and August is around 25 °C (77 °F), with afternoon highs sometimes reaching 33 °C (91 °F); sustained heat as found in much of eastern China is rare. Rainfall is common year-round but is the greatest in July and August, with very little of it in the cooler months. Chengdu also has one of the lowest annual sunshine totals nationally, with less sunshine annually than much of Northern Europe, and most days are overcast even if without rain. This is especially so in the winter months, when it is typically interminably grey and dreary, compounding the poor air quality. With monthly percent possible sunshine ranging from 16 percent in December to 38 percent in August, the city receives 1,073 hours of bright sunshine annually. Spring (March–April) tends to be sunnier and warmer in the day than autumn (October–November). The annual mean is 16.14 °C (61.1 °F), and extremes have ranged from −5.9 °C (21 °F) to