||Area: 23,000 square kilometers
The beautiful mountain city of Chongqing is located at the juncture of the Changjiang (Yangtze River) and Jialing rivers in the southeast of China's Sichuan Basin. The streets are staggered one above the other on the hills that overlook the river, making the city a magnificent sight to behold. At night, house lights shine over the rolling hills like sparkling stars, making the hills a glittering screen, the bridge a rainbow, and ships flying sparks on the rivers. The splendid scenery of this famous mountain city attracts many tourists from home and abroad.
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Until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Chongqing was alternately an independent state, part of an empire based in northern China, or part of a central Chinese empire. Originally called Yuzhou and then Gongzhou, it was given the name Chongqing (Double Celebration) by the emperor Zhao Dun of the Southern Song dynasty in 1190 in order to record his double happiness at having been the prince of the city and then emperor of China. (An alternative explanation is that it got this name from its strategic position between the cities of Nanchong to the north and Pengshui to the southeast.) Although protected by a wall since 250 BC, Chongqing was plundered during the rebellion of Zhang Xianzhong (Chang Hsien-chung) in the 1630s. When the wall was subsequently repaired, eight of the 17 gates were left closed on the advice of feng shui experts.
The first industries developed in Chongqing were related to agriculture, with textile shops and breweries being established later during the Ming Dynasty. Foreign trade began in 1901, when the British and Japanese established trade concessions in Chongqing. A program of local industrialization was begun in 1928. The close proximity of coal, iron, petroleum, and hydroelectric resources have helped to make Chongqing one of the main industrial cities of southwest China. Besides the large complex of iron and steel plants, many other types of heavy and light industries are present, including machinery, chemicals, textiles, paper making, and food processing. Due to its prime location, Chongqing is the focal point of trade for the provinces of Sichuan, Shaanxi, Guizhou, and Yunnan as well as the Tibet Autonomous Region, but transportation can be hampered in winter by the perpetual fog which hangs over the city. The industrial smoke and fog have combined to make Chongqing's air quality among the worst in China.
The principal city of Sichuan, China's most populated province, Chongqing is one of the country's oldest settlements. Today's Chongqing is a busy and lively commercial and cultural center of the entire upper Yangtze region and provides a wealth of attractions for visitors.