Jiangsu: economic and commercial center since ancient times


Jiangsu’s name is a compound of the first elements of the names of the two cities of Jiangning (now Nanjing) and Suzhou.

Since the Sui and Tang dynasties, Jiangsu has been a national economic and commercial center, partly due to the construction of the Grand Canal. Cities such as Nanjing, Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou and Shanghai (separated from Jiangsu in 1927) are all major Chinese economic hubs.

During the Three Kingdoms period, southern Jiangsu became the base of the Eastern Wu (222 to 280), whose capital, Jianye, or modern Nanjing. Later it was renamed Jiankang  in Jin Dynasty and it remained as the capital for four successive Southern dynasties and became the largest commercial and cultural center in China.

Located along the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, Jiangsu is a place of typical Jiangnan (south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River) landscapes, represented by classical gardens and water townships.

Nanking was the capital of the Republic of China under Sun Yat-Sen and Jiang Kai-shek.

The Land and economy

Jiangsu is bounded by the Yellow Sea to the east, Shanghai municipality to the southeast, and by the provinces of Zhejiang to the south, Anhui to the west, and Shandong to the north.

The land is flat, with plains covering 68 percent of its total area. Most of the province stands not more than 50 metres above sea level.

The city of Suzhou has so many canals that it has been dubbed “Venice of the East” .

Historically, Jiangsu has an extensive irrigation system supporting its agriculture, which is based primarily on rice and wheat, maize and sorghum. Other crops include cotton, soybeans, peanuts, rapeseed, sesame, ambary hemp, and tea.

Jiangsu is historically oriented toward light industries such as textiles and food industry. Since 1949, Jiangsu has developed heavy industries such as chemical industry and construction materials. Jiangsu’s important industries include machinery, electronic, chemicals, and automobile.

Jiangsu contains over 100 different economic and technological development zones with heavy investments from overseas.

Jiangsu is home to one of the most extensive transportation networks in China. Its road network is one of the most developed in the country.


Jiangsu is the birthplace of Wu Culture. From as early as several hundred thousand years ago, it has been a place where human beings inhabited. About 6,000 years ago, primitive villages showed up near Taihu Lake and Hongze Lake of this area, which record agricultural civilization.

Jiangsu is rich in cultural traditions. Kunqu, originating in Kunshan, is one of the most renowned and prestigious forms of Chinese opera. Pingtan, a form of storytelling accompanied by music, is also popular.

Ancient water townships like Zhouzhuang, Tongli and Luzhi are also representatives of local landscapes. Little bridges over murmuring brooks, rustic cottages along stone-paved streets and tranquil atmosphere all offer visitors unique and special feelings. In addition to attractive landscapes, the area is also famous for its amazing folk arts and well-made handicrafts.

Jiangsu cuisine is one of the eight great traditions of the cuisine of China.

Suzhou is also well known for its silk, Chinese embroidery, jasmine tea, stone bridges, pagodas, and classical gardens. Nearby Yixing is noted for its teaware while Yangzhou is known for its lacquerware and jadeware. Nanjing’s yunjin is a noted type of woven silk.

Since ancient times, south Jiangsu has been famed for its prosperity and opulence, and simply inserting south Jiangsu place names (Suzhou, Yangzhou, etc.) into poetry gave an effect of dreaminess, as was indeed done by many famous poets.

This rich history rewards 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.

edited by staff


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