Kunming History, Yunnan Province, China -- Page 1

City of Kunming (Translation -- Brilliance for Generations) and Nearby Yunnan Province

Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, is distinguished both by its delightful year-round climate and by its ethnically rich population. The city is also a regionally important manufacturing center and a major transportation crossroads for southwest China. Although traditionally regarded as one of China's more isolated and backward provincial capitals, the growing economic and strategic importance of China's southwestern provinces since the late 1930s has spurred rapid growth. Kunming municipality (including rural areas and satellite towns) now boasts a population of over 2 million, many of whom are members of China's ethnic minority groups, including the Yi, Hui, Bai, Miao, and Hani.

Kunming lies on a flat, fertile plain at an elevation of 6,200 feet, in the center of the Yunnan Plateau. The city is encircled by mountains to the north, west, and east; a large lake, Dianchi, adjoins the southwestern edge of the city. Subtropical Kunming is often termed the "City of Eternal Spring" because of its temperate weather and perpetually blooming flowers. Its short winters are sunny and dry. Late afternoon thunderstorms occur during July and August. The mean annual temperature is most pleasant of any city in China: (59 degrees F).

Kunming in History

Kunming's history goes back over 2,000 years to 279 BC, when a general of the Chu Kingdom settled with his troops near Lake Dianchi. In AD 109, during the reign of Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty, the city of "Kunzhou" was established to the southeast of present day Kunming. Towards the end of the Yuan Dynasty, the area became known as Kunming County. In 1832, a traditional walled city was erected, which became Kunming municipality in 1928. From its founding through the 19th century, this isolated provincial capital was the region's major market and transport center. Until this century, Kunming was an archetypical Chinese city --- characterized by congestion, dirt, and a maze of winding cul-de-sac crooked lanes lined with one and two story wood and mud brick buildings. The residents were considered "provincial" and Kunming was considered a hardship post by Chinese administrators sent there to govern the province. Until 1949, many of Beijing's political "undesirables" were banished here.

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