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Jiangsu: “Land of Fish and Rice…..”

Jiangsu is home to the mighty Yangtze River and China’s ancient engineering Wonder of the World -- the Grand Canal.  It is along China eastern coastline and is known as the "country of fish and rice" and the "land of rivers and lakes". The two names allude to the rich, fertile land or the region that is crisscrossed by a network of rivers and canals, and dotted with lakes and reservoirs.  Marvelous rivers and mountains are not the only attractions for visitors to Jiangsu. It also boasts the World Heritage Listed Chinese classical gardens of Suzhou and the famous Confucius Temple and Mausoleum of Sun Yat-sen in Nanjing.  It is the best place to see the unique living water villages of the Yangtze River delta. The many hidden treasures of Jiangsu include the former residence of Nobel prize-winning American author, Pearl Buck; and endangered species of birds and animals. The rich history is in the area with a lot of cultural relics like Confucius Temple, the Qinhuai River, Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum, Daming Monastery and Nanshan Temple.

Spring and fall are the best times to visit - not least because of the millions of plant trees that line the streets of each city 'boulevard-style' - though the summer and winter temperatures are not extreme.

You can “taste” all of the best that China has to offer in the province, from Ming Dynasty walls and tombs to the delicate and fresh Huaiyang cuisine. It is similar to Shanghainese cuisine and makes liberal use of soy, ginger, sugar and Shaoxing wine.

The capital city of Nanjing, brags a fascinating history. Crumbling city walls, venerated mausoleum and statues of vehement leaders are strong reminders of its brilliant past. It has the  largest inland port in China. The city is filled with bodies of water, including canals, lakes and rivers, most of which link to Yangtze River, providing a convenient waterway passage and cargo transportation.
photo credit: NTBell, Wikimedia

Nanjing is one of the top three cities in China that hosts the largest number of higher learning institutions. Other two are Beijing and Shanghai. There are 50 comprehensive universities, polytechnics and colleges in the city.  Nanjing University is often ranked on the top third in many national surveys. Nanjing has always been a national center of commerce, education, research, transportation and tourist in the East China region, preceded only by Shanghai.

Nanjing or “Ning” in abbreviation, is a city with a history of 2,500 years, and has been the capital of China during ten dynasties, tracing back to the Warring States Period.
The name of Nanjing in Chinese language refers to "Southern Capital", in comparison with "Northern Capital" of Beijing, China's current national capital. The city is listed as one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals amid Chinese cities.

In 1937, the darkest history of Nanjing, the Japanese army invaded and occupied Nanjing and carried out the systematic and brutal Nanking Massacre. The total death toll could not be confirmed, since no official records were kept, but most estimates put the number of dead between 200,000 and 300,000. Today, the history still haunts the Sino-Japanese relations.

Suzhou, the cradle of Wu Culture, is a city with a history of more than 2,500 years back to the Shang Dynasty. While talking about Suzhou, the old saying mentions it as a “Paradise on the Earth” or the "East Venice of the World”, referring to its natural beauty, classical gardens, bridges and waters, traditional operas and soft dialect tone.  The city is well-known to its classical gardens, in which two of them have been listed as the great world heritage sites.

There are sights of cultural interest scattered liberally throughout Jiangsu from the ancient ornamental gardens of Suzhou to Wuxi's world-record breaking bronze Buddha.

An old saying goes this way: ‘the gardens south of the Yangtze River are the best under heaven and among them the gardens of Suzhou are the best’. Suzhou, a famous tourist city of this province, possesses the best classical gardens of the country, including Humble Administrator's Garden, Garden of Master of Nets, Canglang Pavilion and Lion Grove Garden. These skillfully-built classical gardens show how natural scenery and man-made architecture co-exist harmoniously from every single detail like exquisite layout, beautiful color and unique structures.

Ancient water townships like Zhouzhuang, Tongli and Luzhi are representatives of local landscapes. Little bridges over murmuring brooks, rustic cottages along stone-paved streets and tranquil atmosphere all offer visitors relaxation. In addition to attractive landscapes, the area is also famous for its folk arts and well-made handicrafts. Here, visitors can enjoy China’s oldest opera - Kun Opera and appreciate colorful brocade- Yun (or Nanjing) Brocade, vivid Suzhou embroidery, small but lovely Huishan clay dolls, delicate Changzhou combs, beautiful Yixing teapots and colorful Nantong kites, etc. Last but not least, delicious Su Cuisine, one of the country's eight cuisines, is also a must for visitors. Nanjing salt-cured and pressed duck are delicacies that one should try out.
Not just for its natural beauty, its splendid history, or its cultural heritage, Suzhou’s economy represents the highest growth and the fastest expansion in the past 5-10 years in the region and in China. The city’s GDP has surpassed other neighboring cities in the region, except Shanghai.  More than 80 of the world top 500 corporations listed on the Fortune have set their offices in the town.  Today, Jiangsu's main cities - Nanjing, Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou and Nantong - are all thriving industrial centers.

Jiangsu is the province with the highest population density in China and has a coastline of over 600 miles along the Yellow Sea.  Since the economic reforms in 1990, Jiangsu has been a hot spot for economic development, and now has the highest GNP of all Chinese provinces.  It has also received the most foreign investment in recent years. It is the birthplace of a number of adopted children and is a province that boasts a rich culture and tradition.  It has become one of the most modernized provinces and is a growing jewel in China’s “crown”. 

Sources: Wikimedia, Jiangsu.net, China Travel & Lotus Travel site

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