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Zhengzhou

Zhengzhou (aka Chengchow), formerly called Zheng County, is a prefecture-level city, and the capital of Henan Province of China.

History
The Shang Dynasty established Aodu or Bodu in Zhengzhou (see. The pre-historical city had been long lost even before the time of the First Emperor of China. Since 1950 archaeological finds have shown that there were Neolithic settlements in the area and that the Shang Bronze Age culture, which flourished there from about 1500 BC, was centered on a walled city. Outside this city, in addition to remains of large public buildings, a complex of small settlements has been discovered. The site is generally identified with the Shang capital of Ao. It is preserved in the Shang Dynasty Ruins monument in Guanchen District. The Shang, who continually moved their capital, left Ao, perhaps in the 13th century BC. The site, nevertheless, remained occupied; Zhou (post-1050 BC) tombs have also been discovered. Traditionally it is held that in the Western Zhou period (1111-771 BC) it became the fief of a family named Guan. From this derives the name borne by the county (xian) since the late 6th century BC-Guancheng (City of the Guan). The city first became the seat of a prefectural administration in AD 587, when it was named Guanzhou. In 605 it was first called Zhengzhou-a name by which it has been known virtually ever since.

The name of Zhengzhou came from Sui Dynasty (AD 581), albeit it was located in Chenggao, another town. The government moved to the contemporary city during Tang Dynasty. It achieved its greatest importance under the Sui (AD 581 - 618), Tang (618 - 907), and early Song (960 - 1127) dynasties, when it was the terminus of the New Bian Canal, which joined the Yellow River to the northwest. There, at a place called Heyin, a vast granary complex was established to supply the capitals at Luoyang and Chang'an to the west and the frontier armies to the north. In the Song period, however, the transfer of the capital eastward to Kaifeng robbed Zhengzhou of much of its importance.It is a capital during the five dynasties of Xia, Shang, Guan, Zheng, and Han, and a prefecture during the eight dynasties of Sui, Tang, Five Dynasties, Song, Jin, Yuan, Ming, and Qing.

In 1903 the Beijing - Hankou railway arrived at Zhengzhou, and in 1909 the first stage of the Longhai Railway gave it an east - west link to Kaifeng and Luoyang; it later was extended eastward to the coast at Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, and westward to Xi'an (Chang'an), Shaanxi Province, as well as to western Shaanxi. Zhengzhou thus became a major rail junction and a regional center for cotton, grain, peanuts (groundnuts), and other agricultural produce. Early in 1923 a workers' strike began in Zhengzhou and spread along the rail line before it was suppressed; a 14-story double tower in the center of the city commemorates the strike. In 1938, during the war with Japan, the retreating Chinese Nationalist Army blew up the dikes retaining the Yellow River about 32 km northeast of the town, flooding a vast area. At about the same time, in their drive to relocate industry in the interior far from the invading Japanese, the Chinese transferred all the local plants to the west.

When the Communist government came to power in 1949, Zhengzhou was a commercial and administrative center, but it had virtually no industry. Because it was the center of a densely populated cotton-growing district, it was developed into an industrial city, with industry concentrated on the west side so that the prevailing northeast winds would blow fumes away from the city. There are cotton-textile plants, spinning mills, textile-machinery works, flour mills, tobacco and cigarette factories, and various food-processing plants; coal is mined nearby.

Zhengzhou also has a locomotive and rolling-stock repair plant, a tractor-assembly plant, and a thermal generating station. The city's industrial growth has resulted in a large increase in population, largely of industrial workers from the north. Trees have been planted throughout the city's more than 23 km² area, holding down the sand that formerly blew in thick gusts through the city. A water diversion project and pumping station, built in 1972, has provided irrigation for the surrounding countryside. The city has an agricultural university.

Geography
Located just north of the province's center and south of the Yellow River, Zhengzhou borders Luoyang to the west, Jiaozuo to the northwest, Xinxiang to the northeast, Kaifeng to the east, Xuchang to the southeast, and Pingdingshan to the southwest. It is geographically the center city of China.

Zhengzhou is situated to the south of the Yellow River where its valley broadens into the great plain and at the eastern extremity of the Xionger Mountains. Zhengzhou is at the crossing point of the north - south route skirting the Taihang Mountains and the mountains of western Henan and the east - west route along the southern bank of the Yellow River.

Close to the Yellow River to the north, bordering the Songshan Mountain to the west, and adjacent to the Huanghuai Plains to the southeast, Zhengzhou is in the region of 34°16'~34°58N and 112°42'~114°14'E, covering a total area of 7446.2 square kilometers , including city area of 1013.3 square kilometers and built area in central city area of 147.7 square kilometers.

The land descends from west to east. Its west is characterized by mountains & hills whereas the east is mostly of plains. Located in medium latitude zone Zhengzhou has a temperate semi-moisture continental monsoon climate ,cold in winter and hot in summer, centralized dryness and wetness, and warm in spring and cool in autumn with four clearly-defined seasons. An annual average temperature stands at 14.4 ℃, but highest temperature at an average of 27.3℃ in July and coldest at an average 0.2℃ in January. Annual rainfall stands at 640.9 mm, frost-free period 220 days, and annual sunshine time about 2400 hours. There are 35 big and small rivers and streams, which belong to the two big water systems of the Yellow River and Huaihe River, respectively. The section of the Yellow River flowing through Zhengzhou extends 150.4 kilometers.

Culture and Tourism
As an ancient Chinese capital and a traditional trading center, Zhengzhou maintains abundant cultural heritage that reflects its glorious history as well as the culture of Henan Province. Zhengzhou Confucius Temple, initially built in Eastern Han Dynasty 1900 years ago, is one of the oldest Confucius Temple in China. Other important architectural heritage in the city include the Remains of Shang Dynasty, Town God Temple and Erqi Memorial Tower. There are the remains of the Shang Dynasty capital city (3,600 years ago) in Zhengzhou's east side located around Shangcheng lu.

While it is not a tourist city, it's an example of a remarkably fast-changing city in China (without minor tourism clutter). The best known tourist attraction is the Shaolin Temple (aka Shaolin Monastery or Shaolin Si), which is more than 50 miles southwest of downtown Zhengzhou. Shaolin Temple is not only known as one of China's important Buddhist shrines, but also as the ancient center of Chinese kung-fu. When the temple was built in 495, the temple was originally designed to house Batuo, a celebrated Indian monk, who, after many years of spreading Buddhism, was later known as Fo Tuo, or Grand Monk. In 537, another famous Indian monk named Boddhidharma, settled in the temple. According to legend, he created a primitive bare-hand combat routine called "xingyi boxing" after he had sat meditating in a cave for nine years. That started the kung-fu tradition at the temple.

Henan Museum: Zhengzhou's most notable cultural institution is the Henan Museum, one of China's most important museums. The provincial museum in particular requires at least a half day visit to do justice to the many impressive exhibits, which range from prehistoric times, including dinosaur bones, up through the Qing Dynasty. The admission price was 20 yuan, but has now been made free of charge.

Zhengzhou Zoo: is located on Hua Yuan Lu. The newly built Zhengzhou Botanic Garden is at the western edge of Zhengzhou city.

There are large water, light and music shows on display in Zheng Dong Xin Qu (New Eastern District) during the weekend at 8.30 pm in the summer and 8:00 pm during the winter months. The show is about 25 minutes long and is free of charge. People would have to arrive before 8.00 for a seat. The show times can change from 8:00 and 8:30 without warning.

Other famous attractions of Zhengzhou include the Song Mountain(Song Shan, now is a World Geopark recognised by UNESCO), Yellow River and the birth place of Huangdi(lit.Yellow Emperorr, recognized as the ancestor of Chinese people).
Chinese opera: Henan opera

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