Chengdu (Chinese: 成都; Sichuanese: Cen2du1; pinyin: Chéngdū), formerly transliterated Chengtu, is the capital of Sichuan province in Southwest China and a majoy city in Western China. It holds sub-provincial administrative status. The urban area houses 14,047,625 inhabitants: 7,123,697 within the municipality’s nine districts and 6,730,749 in the surrounding. Chengdu is the fourth most populous city in mainland China, and most populous among prefectural-level cities as well.
Chengdu is one of the most important economic, transportation, and communication centers in Western China. According to the 2007 Public Appraisal for Best Chinese Cities for Investment, Chengdu was chosen as one of the top ten cities to invest in out of a total of 280 urban centers in China. In 2006, it was named China’s 4th-most livable city by China Daily.
The fertile Chengdu Plain, on which Chengdu is located, is also known as the “Country of Heaven” (天府之国, 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. 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 (府河), 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.
As China’s National Treasure, the giant panda is one of the rarest animals in the world. The total number is estimated to be 1,500, including those living in the wild, 80% of which are in Sichuan Province.
A breeding center for giant pandas was founded in the north suburbs of Chengdu. It is the only one of its kind in the world that’s located in a metropolitan area. In order to better protect wild giant pandas, Chengdu has established nature reserves in Dujiangyan City, Chongzhou City, and Dayi County. Sichuan Wolong Giant Panda Nature Reserve, the biggest of its kind in the world, is only 130 km (81 mi) outside Chengdu.
The western world came to know giant pandas only after a French missionary named David first discovered this species in Sichuan in 1869. Now, the somewhat clumsy giant panda is a symbol representing the World Wildlife Fund. They are also a messenger of friendly communication between Chengdu and international cities. Currently, giant pandas are also reared in U.S.A, Germany, Austria, Japan, Thailand as well as Mexico.
Chengdu has established the world renowned breeding and research base for giant pandas, which attracts almost 100,000 visitors each year. Covering tens of hectares with bamboo groves and a native-like habitat, the base is the only one of its kind located in an urban area. A museum is open to the public throughout the year.
In 2008, after the release of the American animation movie Kung Fu Panda, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and other DreamWorks members visited the city of Chengdu. In addition to seeing live pandas, crew members learned about the local culture. Katzenberg has stated that Kung Fu Panda 2 incorporates many elements of Chengdu in the film. The film’s landscape and architecture also found inspiration from those found at Mount Qingcheng, a renowned Taoist mountain. In an interview with Movieline, Berger stated that ‘we never really thought of this as a movie set in China for Americans; it’s a movie set in an mythical, universalized China for everyone in the world’.
On January 11, 2012, six captive-bred pandas were released to a “semi-wild” environment in Dujiangyan, Chengdu. Scientists believe that success in the reintroduction project would potentially help save the endangered giant panda. Retired NBA basketball star and animal activist Yao Ming attended the ceremony.
In addition to its profound historical and cultural background featuring historic places of interest such as the Thatched Cottage of Du Fu, Wuhou Memorial Temple and Wenshu Monastery , etc, natural beauty abounds in surrounding areas such as in the Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area and Huanglong Valley (Yellow Dragon Valley) . The natural habitat of giant pandas, Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center , supports the world’s only giant panda breeding and research base.
Sampling the famous Sichuan cuisine is a must for a visit here. Enjoying the food as well as the culture, shopping and having tea at a teahouse afford a deeper understanding of this cultural city.
Improved land and airlines extending nationwide provide greater convenience. Chengdu is also the main inland access city to Tibet.