Yangzhou, China

The city was founded by the 4th century BC, with its oldest known name being Kuang-ling. Its first location was east of the present site. In 590 AD, Kuang-ling began to be called Yangzhou, which was the traditional name of the entire southeastern part of China. Beginning in the 7th century, Yangzhou was the chief commerical city of the Yangzi valley, due to its importance as a canal port, seaport, and administrative center. For westerners, an interesting footnote to Yangzhou's history is that Marco Polo served there under the Mongol emperor Kubilai Khan, in the period around 1282-1287. Although some versions of Polo's memoir imply that he was the governor of Yangzhou, it is more likely that he was an official in the salt industry. Although Yangzhou declined in importance in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), the Mings are largely responsible for building the city as it now stands, and surrounding it with 9 km of walls. Wealthy salt merchants based in Yangzhou patronized artists and writers, making the city a cultural center from the 16th to the 18th century. From the time of the Taiping Rebellion (1853) to the end of the Communist revolution (1949) Yangzhou was in decline, due to war damage and neglect of the Grand Canal. Now that the canal has been partially restored, Yangzhou is once again an important transportation and market center. It also has some industrial output, chiefly in cotton and textiles. Culture During a period of prosperity and Imperial favour, the arts of storytelling and painting flourished in Yangzhou. A group of painters from that time, who came to be called the Eight Eccentrics, are still famous in China. President of China Jiang Zemin was born only 14 km from Yangzhou, in a town called Jiangdu. His middle school (high school) is located right across from the public notary's office in Yangzhou. Food This is the home of Yangzhou Fried Rice, which can be ordered in almost any Chinese restaurant around the world. Another local specialty is 1000-layer Oily Cake. Folklore There is a commonly reported legend that Yangzhou produces the most beautiful women in China, and that emperors would seek their brides from Yangzhou (but the same legend is often told about Hangzhou, Zhejiang province). Climate subtropical monsoon climate with humid changeable wind; longer winters for about 4 months, summers 3 months and shorter springs and autumns, 2 months respectively; frost-free period of 222 days and annual average sunshine of 2176.7 hours
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