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Kunming as the capital city of Yunnan, has long been known to be a "City of Eternal Spring. More recently, Kunming is also becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations and distributing center for tourists from Southeast Asian and South Asian nations in southern China. Hundreds and thousands of tourists visit Kunming daily.

Kunming serves as the hub of politics, economics and cultural activities in southwest China. Situated in the center of the Yunnan-Guizhuo plateau, bordering on the world-renowned Tibet plateau to the northwest; Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to the east; Sichuan to the North and Guizhou to the Northeast. 

In Southwest China, Kunming falls in the Mandarin speaking region because of its fairly large Mandarin speaking population. Staying in the city will give you plenty of opportunities to practice what you have learned in the classroom. Check below for a linguistic map of the region.

Kunming is a city with a long history. The name of Kunming came from the ancient tribe of people who lived around Dianchi Lake thousands of years ago. From ancient time Kunming has been a center of politics, economics and culture. During the 3rd Century BC, the first civilization was established. General Zhuang Qiao led his army from the then Chu Kingdom in central China, came to the southwest of China and established the Ancient Dian Kingdom in the present day Kunming region. For a long time this had been regarded as a legendary story, until archaeological excavations made by scientists in the 1970s and 1990's in nearby Jingchuan County proved that the mystical and glamorous kingdom that had been described in ancient Chinese literature really did exist.   

When it came to the eighth century, one of China's most prosperous dynasties, the Tang Dynasty, got on the stage of history. It was from then that Kunming gained its ever-increasing important position in Yunnan. From the 8th Century onwards till the Mongol troops conquered the regime in Yunnan, two kingdoms were established in the Dali area, middle west of Yunnan province.  The first was the Nanzhao Kingdom and the Dali Kingdom came later. As the kingdom became more and more powerful, the Nanzhao Kingdom explored to the east of the kingdom, and that's how the name Tuodong, Kunming's original name, came about. Tuodong literally means exploring the east. Like the Nanzhao, the succeeding Dali also made Tuodong their capital city and made great efforts to develop it

The Dali Kingdom was overthrown by the invasion of Mongol troops led by Kublai Khan. Tuodong was made the provincial capital for Yunnan after the Yuan dynasty took over the Song Dynasty. The city grew to be one of the most important centers of trading and commerce. The Mongolian regime was overturned by the Han Chinese troops and the Ming Dynasty was founded in the 13th Century. A city wall fortified the city which is present day Kunming City. Remnants of these walls were destroyed during wars and battles, and completed remove in the 1990s when the city was trying to become more like a big city. In the subsequent Qing dynasty, Kunming was occupied by a local warlord, Wu Sangui.

After China finished with feudalism, the Republic of China became the legal government ruling China. Kunming, although in the most southwest of China, did lose its important position in China.  Yunnan attained greater development as a huge part of China's east coastal areas were taken over by Japanese armies. A large amount of factories and plants were moved to Yunnan from the east and middle China. For a period of time, it was the center of China's heavy industries and base of manufacture. Some of the universities and higher educational institutes were also relocated here. Three of the most prestigious universities in China of that time, Beijing University, Tusinghua University and Nankai University joined together, moved to Kunming and formed the National Southwestern Associated University, which is today's Yunnan Normal University. 

After 1949, the city area of Kunming has been ever increasing, and the site of old Kunming is now but the central part of Kunming City.  Now bigger and looking more modern, Kunming has somehow lost a little of its flavor as a national historical and cultural city as old city walls have been tore down and more and more skyscrapers have been built. 

Since the opening up of restrictions and reform policies were launched by the Chinese government in the middle of 1980s, Kunming, as the capital city of Yunnan province, has witnessed a tremendous development in its tourism industry and an increasing amount of foreign investment. Infrastructure improvement has been ongoing.

It was believed by many people that the hosting of The World Horticultural Exposition in 1999 contributed to the dramatic changes taking place in Kunming. Not only did the fair propell the physical improvements of the city, it made Kunming known all over China and the world. 

In recent years, as the relationship between Yunnan and the southeastern Asian nations keeps improving, Kunming is becoming an international city, especially to Southeast Asia. In July, 2005, the second Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Summit was held in Kunming, marking the ever-important role played by Kunming in this region.


In terms of travel resources, there are many places to visit:

The Stone Forest has the honor of being a World Nature Heritage Site and World Geological Park, and is praised to be the Number One Wonder Under the Heaven.  The Museum of Natural Karst Landscape, together with the unique local ethnic culture, is attracting tens of thousands of people from all over the world daily.

Kunming's World Horti-Expo Garden is up to now the only site for world level exposition in China  As the legacy left behind after the World Horticultural Exposition held in Kunming in 1999, it has been developed into a mega ecological theme park featuring top level horticulture and gardening arts.

The Yunnan Ethnic Village, as a showcase of authentic cultural characteristics and traditional customs, is a one-stop theme park for you to grasp an understanding of the most distinctive ethnic groups in Yunnan in a short time.

The Western Mountain Forest Park integrates beautiful nature, ancient temples and rare trees planted a long, long time ago.

The Grand View Park maintains a famous long couplet with 180 Chinese characters; one of biggest and heaviest copper temples is located in the Golden Temple.

Kunming is the perfect place for recreation and holiday. Kunming has the best golf course with top quality facilities in Asia, plus there is all-year-round good weather for you to swing the club. Hot springs and spas are available for people who are on their holiday for relaxation; Kunming is one of China's most important fresh-cut flowers production bases. It is so interesting that even sea gulls from far away Siberia fly here to enjoy the warm weather.

Nearby place of interests.

Guandu Ancient Town
The Guandu Ancient Town was one of
the birthplaces of Yunnan's Ancient Dian Kingdom back
thousands years ago. It is
a place where the authentic Kunming cultures are being maintained. About 5 KM (3.1 miles) from downtown Kunming, Guandu Ancient Town is abundant with historical interests. There are a great number of ancient buildings from different dynasties from China's history within its 1.5 sq. km (1.9 sq.miles) areas. Ancient bridges, pathways, wells and woods can be seen anywhere you go. There are temples and typical local authentic Kunming folk residential houses, called four courtyard houses that resemble a seal.

This place is a heaven for photographers for its red earth and colorful landscape, and has been visited by photographers as a pilgrimage site. There are many distinctive and abundant tourist attractions in Dongchuan.  

Rich in various kinds of landforms, there are basins, soaring mountains, and deep valleys. The upper stream of the Yatse River, the Jingsha River (or the Golden Sand River) runs through this district. It is just 150 KM (93 miles) from Kunming City proper.

Dongchuan has long been famous for its leading position as a base of copper mining in Yunnan province. It was believed that it was from this region that many of those copper crafts were made back in the Ancient Dian Kingdom thousands of years ago.

The newly developed Jiaozi Snow Mountain, has been called the Number One Mountain in the Middle of Yunnan Province. It is the closest snow mountain to Kunming City. Its marvelous natural beauty has been drawing tourists, backpackers and climbers from different places. There are options like outdoor climbing, rock climbing, sports games on snow, entertainments, and vacation areas. It has been honored as number one of Yunnan's top Five Mountains in central Yunnan. It features the spectacular snow mountain, gorgeous landscapes and colorful azalea flowers. The highland grassy marshland, bamboo and jungle forests are among the most famous scenes of the Jiaozi Snow Mountain. It is emerging as a popular destination of eco-tourism. It is also believed by anthropologists that Yanzi (or Swallow) Cave in the Jiaozi Snow Mountain was one of the birthplaces of Yi ethnic groups.  


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