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Changde

Changde is a city in the north of Hunan Province, China, with a population of around 6,000,000.

Geography
Situated on the north bank of the Yuan River above its junction with the Dongting Lake system, Changde is a natural center of the northwest Hunan plain.

History
Changde is known for its many Old Stone and New Stone Age sites. About 500 of them have been discovered to date. In historical times it was also a centre from which governments controlled the mountain tribes of western Hunan. A county, named Linyuan, was established there in the 2nd century BC.

In 589 its name was changed to Wuling, and under the Tang dynasty (618 - 907) it became the seat of Lang prefecture. Under the Song dynasty (960 - 1279) the name of the prefecture was changed to Tingzhou, and in 1164 - 74 it became a superior prefecture called Changde. This status was retained until 1912, when the superior prefecture was abolished and the city became a county seat.

Qing
In the late 19th century Changde became a prosperous commercial center and the chief agricultural central market of the Yuan River basin. Many Chinese firms, and - after 1905, when it was opened to foreign trade - foreign firms as well, maintained branches there to buy rice, cotton, tung oil, and timber, so that Changde's economic influence reached out into northern Guizhou, southwestern Hubei, and parts of southeastern Sichuan province. The merchants of the Taho quarter of the city controlled much of the northwestern Hunan economy, and early in the 20th century Changde was the second city of Hunan, after Changsha.

Warlord Period
In the 1943 Battle of Changde, the Guomindang's National Revolutionary Army attempted to stop the invading Japan Imperial troops from completing their invasion of Sichuan. Frustrated, the Japanese side employed chemical and biological weapons to clear their way. During the Khabarovsk War Crimes Trials, proof was presented of operations to contaminate the area with plague as early as 1941 and 1942.

People's Republic
Although the commercial dominance of Changde firms disappeared with the advent of communist rule in 1949, the city remained an important center of trade, with the majority of its population engaged either in commerce or in transportation. In 1975, Changde was hit by Typhoon Nina.

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