Located in the middle part of the Yangtze River Delta, Suzhou is adjacent to Shanghai to the east and Zhejiang to the south, and it faces Taihu Lake to the west and the Yangtze River to the north. Suzhou has a 140 km long Yangtze coast extending from the north, the north-south Grand Canal dividing in the middle, and the Nanjing-Shanghai Railway and Expressway running from west to east.
Population and territory
Suzhou covers an area of 8,488sq km. By the end of 2010, the city had a registered population of 6,370,000, with 2,420,000 living in urban areas.
Suzhou presently governs five county-level cities including Zhangjiagang, Changshu, Taicang, Kunshan and Wujiang, five districts including Pingjiang, Canglang, Jinchang, Wuzhong and Xiangcheng, Suzhou Industrial Park, and the Suzhou New & Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone (Huqiu District).
Situated at the temperate zone and amid the subtropical oceanic monsoon climate, Suzhou sees four distinct seasons, a mild temperature, and abundant rainfall. The city spreads on a low terrain, with the plain covering 55% of the total area. With a network of rivers and canals as well as a fertile land, the city is rich in a variety of agricultural products. Major crops vary from rice to wheat, rape, cotton, mulberry and fruit. Its specialties include Biluochun Tea, Dao Fish from Yangtze River, Silver Fish from Taihu Lake and Hairy Crabs from Yangcheng Lake. As a well-known “Land of Fish and Rice” as well as the “Silk Capital”, Suzhou enjoys the fame of “Paradise on Earth”.
History and Culture
Suzhou is one of the earliest cities that were named as a Historical Chinese City and an Important Travel Destination. It has a history of more than 2,500 years, which begins from 514 B.C. during the Spring and Autumn Period when King Helv of the Wu Kingdom established “Great City of Helv”, the ancient name for Suzhou.
The current major layout of the city is based on what it used to be like 2,500 years ago, highlighted by the exclusive arrangement of “canals paralleling streets, and houses neighboring against rivers. The intersecting canals, exquisite bridges, black-white toned architecture, classical gardens and historical sites have been the selling points of the ancient city.
Nine classical Suzhou Gardens are on the World Heritage List. Six items including the Kunqu Opera of China and the Art of Chinese Guqin Music have been listed as Masterpieces of the oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The historic Pingjiang Road and Shantang Street have been respectively rated as Chinese historic and cultural streets and the most popular Chinese historical and cultural streets for tourists.
Suzhou has always been the cradle for talents and celebrities. In history, more than 50 Number One Scholars (title conferred for the individual who scored highest on the imperial examination) were Suzhou natives. Now academicians from Suzhou reach as many as 114.