Chongqing (Chinese: 重庆), formerly romanized as Chungking is a major city in central China and one of the five national central cities in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Administratively, it is one of the PRC’s four direct-controlled municipalities (the other three are Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin), and the only such municipality in inland China.
The municipality was created on 14 March 1997, succeeding the sub-provincial city administration that was part of Sichuan province. As of April 29, 2011, the municipality had a population of 28,846,170, although the urbanized area is estimated to have a population of only 6 or 7 million, whereas the greater area comprises some 34.000.000 people all together. Chongqing is the largest direct-controlled municipality in China, and comprises 19 districts, 15 counties, and 4 autonomous counties.
The official abbreviation of the city, 渝 (Yú), was approved by the State Council on 18 April 1997. Chongqing was also a municipality of the Republic of China (ROC) administration, serving as its wartime capital during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945). Its abbreviated name is derived from the old name of a part of the Jialing River that runs through Chongqing and feeds into the Yangtze River.
Chongqing has a significant history and culture and serves as the economic centre of the upstream Yangtze basin. It is a major manufacturing centre and transportation hub and in a July 2012 report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, was named as one of the 13 emerging megacities, or megalopolises, in China.
Since its founding 3,000 years ago, Chongqing has been called Jiangzhou, Yuzhou, and Gongzhou, before getting its present name nearly 800 years ago. Since the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-206 BC), many dynasties have set up administrative institutions that have endowed the city with brilliant cultures. Perched beside the Yangtze, the “Golden River,” Chongqing symbolizes Yangtze River civilizations and is the cradle of Bayu culture.
Today, Chongqing is a modern city, China’s fourth municipality after Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin. Within its borders it encompasses a wealth of water reserves, mineral resources, dense forests, and abundant flora and fauna. The focal point of the unique Yangtze Three Gorges Dam, it is a tourist attraction as well as a commercial city.
Chongqing attracts visitors from home and abroad for its cultural heritage and other tourist attractions. The city is the starting point for the Yangtze River Cruise, which explores the stunning scenery of the Three Gorges. Other attractions include the Dazu Rock Carvings, valuable works of art carved during the Ninth Century, Gold Buddhist Mountain, a rich repository of diverse animals and plants; and Fishing Town, one of three ancient battlefields in China. Ancient Ci Qi Kou village lures tourists to linger in its streets to buy handicraft souvenirs. General Joseph W. Stilwell Museum, Three Gorges Museum, People’s Assembly Hall, Chongqing Zoo, and Wulong Karst are also worth a visit.
Chongqing is famous for its hot Sichuan cuisine and world-famous hotpot dishes. Street vendors as well as restaurants feature exciting spicy delicacies for the adventurers.
Servicing western China, the city provides convenient water, land, and air transportation. Hundreds of star-ranked hotels provide excellent facilities and services. it is ready to be the pilot in the Western China Development to usher in more investors and visitors.
Chongqing is situated at the transitional area between the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the plain on the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River in the sub-tropical climate zone often swept by moist monsoons. It often rains at night in late spring and early summer, and thus the city is famous for its “night rain in the Ba Mountains”. The municipality reaches a maximum width of 470 kilometres (290 mi) from east to west, and a maximum length of 450 km (280 mi) from north to south. It borders the following provinces: Hubei in the east, Hunan in the southeast, Guizhou in the south, Sichuan in the west and northwest, and Shaanxi to the north in its northeast corner.
Chongqing covers a large area crisscrossed by rivers and mountains. The Daba Mountains stand in the north, the Wu Mountains in the east, the Wuling Mountains in the southeast, and the Dalou Mountains in the south. The whole area slopes down from north and south towards the Yangtze River valley, with sharp rises and falls. The area is featured by mountain and hills, with large sloping areas at different heights. Typical karst landscape is common in this area, and stone forests, numerous collections of peaks, limestone caves and valleys can be found in many places. The Yangtze River runs through the whole area from west to east, covering a course of 665 km (413 mi), cutting through the Wu Mountains at three places and forming the well-known Three Gorges: the Qutang, the Wuxia and the Xiling gorges. Coming from northwest and running through “the Jialing Lesser Three Gorges” of Libi, Wentang and Guanyin, the Jialing River joins the Yangtze in Chongqing.
The central urban area of Chongqing, or Chongqing proper, is a city with its unique features. Built on mountains and partially surrounded by the Yangtze and Jialing rivers, it is known as a “mountain city” and a “city on rivers”. The night scene of the city is very illuminated, with millions of lights and their reflection on the rivers. With its special topographical features, Chongqing has the unique scenery of mountains, rivers, forests, springs, waterfalls, gorges, and caves. Li Bai, a famous poet of the Tang Dynasty, was inspired by the natural scenery and wrote this epigram.