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Home > Destinations > Gansu > Jiuquan


Jiuquan is a "prefecture-level city" in the westernmost part of the Gansu Province in China.

The entire "prefecture-level city" (that is, a multi-county administrative unit - an equivalent to the traditional Chinese prefecture) stretches for more than 500 km from east to west, occupying 191,342 km²; its population as of 2002 was 962,000.

The city's name came from legendary tale of the young Han general Huo Qubing, who poured a jar of precious wine into a local creek in order to share the taste with his troops, in celebration of their crushing victory against Xiongnu forces. The creek was later named Jiu Quan ("Wine Spring"), which became the name of the Han prefecture established there. It was an active military garrison during the Later Han Dynasty.

It is known in popular legend as the place where rhubarb was first grown and is also the town where the Portuguese Jesuit missionary and explorer Bento de Góis (1562-1607) was robbed and died destitute.

Suzhou Town
The administrative center of the "prefecture-level city" of Jiuquan is the "District" of Suzhou, which occupies 3,386 square km in the eastern part of Jiuquan "prefecture-level city", and had the population of 340,000 as of 2002. It is there where the modern mapmakers would usually place the "Jiuquan" label.

There is (or was) a large billboard at the entrance to the city that read: "Without Haste, Without Fear, We Conquer the World".

The District of Suzhou corresponds to the historic town of Suzhou (not to be confused with Suzhou in Jiangsu province). It was founded in 111 BC as a military outpost on the Silk Road to Central Asia (the Hexi Corridor). It is approximately 1500 m above sea level.

Being an important key point in the Hexi Corridor, Suzhou often found itself to be a defended fortress, taken with a heavy loss of life, as was the case when Meng Qiaofang took it from Ding Guodong in 1649, or when the Qing general Zuo Zongtang took it in 1873 from its Hui defenders commanded by Ma Wenlu during the Muslim Rebellion.

Space launch center
Jiuquan city (i.e. Suzhou) is the closest major city to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. Still, the space launch center is more than 100 km away from the city, and is actually located not Gansu province, but in the neighboring Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. It was built in 1958; the first Chinese human spaceflight, Shenzhou 5 was launched there on 15 October 2003, making Yang Liwei China's first cosmonaut and a national hero. The second was in 2005.  The third was in 2008.

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