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Jiangsu

Sprawling cozily by the Yellow sea, facing the tip of Korean Peninsula and Japan's Kyushu Island, Jiangsu province has plenty of rainfall coming from the Pacific breeze and favorable for growing rice. Its clear lakes, winding and calm rivers (including the lower reaches of the Yangtze), canals, and exquisite gardens were inspirations for countless poets, writers, and even emperors. Taihu Lake has rice fields on both sides, with whitewashed farmhouses and swaying reeds. The Grand Canal, runs north-south through the province. On the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, is the Yangtze Delta.

Jiangsu was a kingdom called Wu during the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BCE to 476 BCE). The province was set up in Qing dynasty. It now produces varieties of agricultural products, such as rice, vegetables, fruits and fish. It also has well-developed silk and handicrafts industry. The province includes some of China's loveliest cities, with exquisite gardens.

Suzhou was an ancient capital founded in 514 BCE. Criss-crossed by canals, the city is called the Oriental Venice. It's tree-lined streets, carved arch bridges, tiny whitewashed houses and classical gardens in the typical south China style. With fancy-shaped rockeries, curled-roof pavilions painted in soothing and harmonious colors, gentle lotus flowers and elaborately paved winding walkways, the gardens concentrate landscapes into an area of one or two acres. The most famous gardens are Lion Grove, Wave Pavilion, Lingering Garden, Master of Nets, and Humble Administrator's. The Tiger Hill, with a Leaning Tower, is also attractive, and there is the Cold Mountain Temple and West Garden Temple. Suzhou is the ideal place to buy silk garments, sandalwood and silk fans. Its embroidery, called Su Embroidery, is rich in color and elegant in style.

Yangzhou, 20 km north of the Yangtze on the Grand Canal, is 2400 years old and famous for its gardens, pavilions and ancient architecture. Emperors tired of work and strict court rules used to come here by pleasure-boat for a change. Slender West Lake is 4.3 km long, it has the Five Pavilion Bridge and the Daming Temple, which was founded in the 5th century, and has 18 3-meter-high Buddhist statues. Its Jian Zhen Memorial Hall was built in honor of Jian Zhen, an abbot who introduced Buddhism, Tang literature, medicine, architecture and other arts to Japan. Guang Ling is the only place in China where you can see the Song dynasty printing process. The lacquer ware, jade carving, paper cuts and potted landscapes made in Yangzhou are fine arts and crafts.

Nanjing (South Capital) is a port on Yangtze River. It was a capital intermittently for hundreds of years. In 1842, the Treaty of Nanking was signed here ending the 1st Opium War. In 1937, during the tragic Massacre of Nanjing, 300,000 Chinese were killed by the Japanese army. A museum was built to commemorate this event. Nanjing today is a city with broad avenues thickly lined with sycamore trees. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum is on an square-meter site. Dr. Sun Yat-sen was China's 1st president. He fought the Manchu emperor who was unable to fend China from the invasion of foreign powers. Valley of the Soul Temple is located on a beautiful, wooded area. Ming Tomb is the Mausoleum of the 1st Ming emperor. There are also Botanical Gardens, Xuanwu Lake, Purple Gold Mountain with the Observatory, Nanjing City Wall and Drum Tower, Rain-Flower Martyr's Memorial Park and Sorrow- Free Lake Park. These are all places full of legends and moving stories from history.

Zhenjiang is a city where the Grand Canal meets the south bank of the Yangtze and where many battles were fought. Toward the end of the first Opium War, it was the only city that strongly resisted the foreign powers. It is bound on three sides by hills and on the north by the Yangtze River. From its three hills, you can get magnificent views of the Yangtze.

Wuxi, one of the oldest cities in China, was founded over 3000 years ago. Its Taihu Lake is where many of China's best gardens, including the Summer Palace, get their rockeries. Its classical Chinese gardens are small but lovely. The Li Garden, Plum Garden, and Relaxing Garden, once private gardens, now attract millions of tourists each month. On the 2213-square-meter Tai Lake are islets, temple and pavilions. Locally made are delicate clay figurines, freshwater pearls and silk.

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Site Created: September 16, 1998; Updated: September 23, 2007.