Suzhou in Brief

With Taihu Lake in its south and Yangtze River at its northern fringe, Suzhou, semi-encircled by the Grand Canal, Suzhou has its unique scenery of crisscrossing waterways lined with houses and stone bridges in traditional lCoal style. Rich aquatic and farm produce has long made Suzhou "a land of rice and fish" and "the home of silk". It was called a "Paradise on Earth" in ancient times and is known as the "Venice of the East" today. Named "the city of gardens", Suzhou has always held a leading position in Chinas architectural art and landscape gardening. Suzhous art of gardening has undergone a history of 1,500 years. There were once over 200 gardens in the city, and 69 of them are still in good reservation today. In December 1997, UNESCO Heritage Committee added these classical gardens of Suzhou to the World Heritage List. Known as the nations supplier of products for export, Suzhou has now quickly developed into a trade city, ranking only second to Shanghai among the major cities along the Yangtze Delta. Moreover, with the rich historical and cultural sites, as well as the natural scenery, Suzhou has become one of the most popular tourist cities in China.

Geographic Features
Suzhou is lCoated on the shores of Lake Taihu in the lower reaches of the Yangtze between 119o55 and 121o20 east longitude and between 30o47 and 32o02 north latitude. The city covers a total area of 8,488 square km with 1,650 square km of urban area. It enjoys a mild and humid climate with an annual rainfall of 1,100 mm, an average annual temperature of 15.7Co. Suzhou has a vast number of ponds and streams. The Grand Canal flows from its north to south, with rivers like Wangyu, Loujiang and Taipu connecting its east and west. Dotting in this chessboard are lakes like Yangcheng, Kuncheng and Dianshan. 90% of the Taihu Lake is within the territory of Suzhou. The natural scenery of hills and waters in Suzhou is as charming as a delicate beauty. Of the whole area, 10 per cent is cultivated fields, 30 per cent hills, and the rest covered with water. The average altitude of Suzhou is 4 meters.

Suzhou has a population of 5.83 million with 2.12 million in urban area. The main inhabitants are Han nationality which takes 99 percent of total population. The main religion here is Buddhism and Taoism. The natives speak Suzhou dialect (Wu dialect), but the government language is still mandarin.

The history of Suzhou can be traced back to Shang Dynasty in 1,800 B.C. During the Spring & Autumn Period in 514B.C, King He Lu of Wu State established Suzhou as the capital known as the "Great City of Helu" and since then the citys site and scale have remained virtually unchanged. It was the construction of the Jinghang Grand Canal in the Sui Dynasty (AD581-618) that marked the beginning of the prosperity of the city. The silk trade was establishes since then and reached the peak in the Southern Song Dynasty when the capital of China moved to Hangzhou. When the first Ming Emperor founded his capital in Nanjing city, Suzhou continued to enjoy a privileged position within the orbit of the court and to flourish as a center for the production of wood block and weaving of silk.

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