Area: 8,467 square kilometers
Population: 7.3 million
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This capital of Hubei province, the most populated city in central China, lies at the confluence of the Yangtze and Han rivers, roughly midway between Beijing and Guangzhou. Comprised of three towns--Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang--that face each other across the rivers and are linked by two bridges, Wuhan is shaped like a flying butterfly. It is simple in geographical structure--low and flat in the middle and hilly in the south, with the Chang Jiang (Yangtze) and Han rivers winding through the city. Dotted with hills and lakes, Wuhan boasts a natural landscape rarely found in any other big city.
The area was first settled more than 3,000 years ago, during the Han Dynasty, and Hanyang became a fairly busy port. In the first and third centuries A.D., walls were built to protect Hanyang and Wuchang. About 300 years ago, Hankou became one of the country’s top four trading towns.
The first Yangtze Bridge was built in Wuhan in 1957, thus connecting North and South China by railroad for the first time in history. Including its approaches, it is 5,511 feet long, and it accommodates both the double-track railway and a roadway.