Hangzhou (Chinese: 杭州; Hángzhōu: Hangzhou; Mandarin), also transliterated as Hangchow, is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. Hangzhou is also the center of the Hangzhou Metropolitan Area, which is the fourth-largest metropolitan area nationally. It is governed as a sub-provincial city. As of 2010, Hangzhou prefecture had a registered population of 8.7 million people. The built up area of the Hangzhou municipality had a resident population of 6.242 million in 2010 (urban and suburban districts), of which 3.56 million lived in the six urban core districts. The built-up area including Shaoxing County and Yuecheng districts of Shaoxing was home to 8,156,600 inhabitants at the 2010 census. Within the Hangzhou Metropolitan Area, about 21.102 million people distributed over 34,585 square kilometres (13,353 sq mi).
A core city of the Yangtze River Delta, Hangzhou has a position on the Hangzhou Bay 180 kilometres (110 mi) southwest of Shanghai that gives it economic power. It has been one of the most renowned and prosperous cities of China for much of the last 1,000 years, due in part to its beautiful natural scenery. The city’s West Lake is its best-known attraction.
Hangzhou is located in northwestern Zhejiang province, at the southern end of the Grand Canal of China, which runs to Beijing, in the south-central portion of the Yangtze River Delta. Its administrative area (sub-provincial city) extends west to the mountainous parts of Anhui province, and east to the coastal plain near Hangzhou Bay. The city center is built around the eastern and northern sides of the West Lake, just north of the Qiantang River.
Hangzhou is renowned for its historic relics and natural beauty. It is often known as one of the most beautiful cities in China, also ranking as one of the most scenic cities. Although Hangzhou has been through many recent urban developments, it still retains its historical and cultural heritage. Today, tourism remains an important factor for Hangzhou’s economy. One of Hangzhou’s most popular sights is the West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The West Lake Cultural Landscape covers an area of 3,323 ha (8,210 acres) and includes some of Hangzhou’s most notable historic and scenic places. Adjacent to the lake is a scenic area includes historical pagodas, cultural sites, as well as the natural beauty of the lake and hills, including Phoenix Mountain. There are two causeways across the lake.
The native residents of Hangzhou, like those of Zhejiang and southern Jiangsu, speak a Wu dialect. However, the Wu dialect varies throughout the area where it is spoken, hence, Hangzhou’s dialect differs from regions in southern Zhejiang and southern Jiangsu. As the official language defined by China’s central government, Mandarin is the dominant spoken language.
Tea is an important part of Hangzhou’s economy and culture. Hangzhou is best known for originating Longjing, a notable variety of green tea, the most notable type being Xi Hu Long Jing. Known as the best type of Long Jing tea, Xi Hu Long Jing is grown near Xi Hu in Hangzhou, hence its name.
The local government of Hangzhou heavily invests in promoting tourism and the arts, with emphasis placed upon silk production, umbrellas, and Chinese hand-held folding fans.
Hangzhou’s local cuisine is often considered to be representative of Zhejiang provincial cuisine, which is claimed as one of China’s eight fundamental cuisines. The locally accepted consensus amongst Hangzhou’s natives defines dishes prepared in this style to be “fresh, tender, soft, and smooth, with a mellow fragrance.”
Dishes like West Lake Vinegar Fish (西湖醋鱼), Dongpo Pork (东坡肉), Longjing Shrimp (龙井虾仁), Beggar’s Chicken (叫化鸡), Steamed Rice and Pork Wrapped by Lotus Leaves（荷叶粉蒸肉）, Braised Bamboo Shoots (油焖笋),Lotus Root Pudding (藕粉)and Sister Song’s Fish Soup (宋嫂鱼羹) are some of the better-known examples of Hangzhou’s regional cuisine.