Nanjing (南京) aka Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu province and a city with a prominent place in Chinese history and culture. It has served as the capital of China during several historical periods, and is listed as one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. It has a rich history as a political center, as the capital of early regimes in the south and as the Southern Capital during the Ming dynasty, as well as the seat of the Nationalist Government in the 20th century. It is 2 1/2 hours west of Shanghai by express train. Nanjing is hot and humid in summer, considered one of China’s four “furnace cities.” Winters are cold, with frequent rain or drizzle and low visibility.

Nanjing Presidential Palace Stone Boat in GardenNanjing has an extremely rich and complex history, going back some 5,000 years, documented by the discovery of several prehistoric, Shang and Zhou era sites. During the Warring States period there was a walled city. After the break up of the Han dynasty, Nanjing became the capital of a number of short-lived dynasties. At that time Nanjing was also a center for the propagation of Buddhism.  Nanjing was established as the capital of the Ming by its founder, Zhu Yuanzhang (the Hongwu Emperor). Hongwu repopulated the city with craftsmen and wealthy families from elsewhere in southeastern China, meanwhile deporting most of the resident population to far away Yunnan. He also undertook a massive building program, including an imperial palace and massive city walls, parts of which still stand. The city became an administrative center and the site of imperial examinations, as well as a manufacturing center.

The third Ming emperor, known by his reign title a the Yongle emperor, usurped the throne from his brother and moved the capital back to Beijing. Nanjing continued as a secondary capital.  When the Manchus invaded north China Nanjing held out briefly as a center of Ming resistance, but eventually fell.  With the overthrow of the Manchus in 1911 and the establishment of a Chinese Republic, Nanjing again became the national capital.

The often violent history of the city continued, however, as it was the site of mass executions of Communists by Chiang Kai-shek in 1927, and of the infamous “Nanjing Massacre” by Japanese forces who occupied the city in 1937, when some 300,000 residents of the city perished. After 1945 Nanjing again became the capital of the Kuomintang government. After peace talks between the Kuomintang and the Communists held there in 1947 broke down, Nanjing was captured by People’s Liberation Army in 1949.

Today it is an important industrial city for the automobile, electronics, and machine tool industries, petrochemical production and steel foundries, and aeronautical training.