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Kunming History

Kunming History

Prehistoric Time

Due to its position on the caravan roads through to South-East Asia, India, and Tibet, the region of Kūnmíng always has a great significance in the development of human beings. Early townships in the southern edge of Lake Dianchi (outside the contemporary city perimeter) can be dated back to 279 BC. In the Neolithic times, the area around current Dianchi Lake was inhabited. Therefore, the Dianchi region is also considered to be one of the important cradles of humankind.

Early History

At the time of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770 B.C.-221 B.C.), a strong slave state named the Dian Kingdom was founded by an alliance of the tribes dotted around Dianchi. At the end of the Warring States Period (476 B.C.-221 B.C.), the Chu State conquered those tribes and the general as the King Dian to rule this region, which implied that the central Chinese civilization was introduced into the Dianchi region. Dian was subjugated by the Chinese Han Dynasty under the reign of Emperor Wu of Han in 109 BC. The Han Dynasty called the territory of the Dian Kingdom 'Guchang County' and incorporated it into their Yizhou Commandery, but left the King of Dian as the local ruler. It is no doubt that the former Guchang County is the first city built within the current urban area of Kunming City.

With the hope of taking control over the Southern Silk Road, the Han Dynasty (205 BC–AD 220) made some parts of Yunnan a more important status. During the Sui dynasty (581–618), the Dian region suffered two military expeditions and then was renamed Kunzhou City by the Sui's Emperor.

The Further Development in the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties

In the Kingdom of Nanzhao (737–902) during the 8th and 9th centuries, Kunming was founded in 765 and was known as Tuodong city. Tuodong later became part of the successor Kingdom of Dali (937–1253), and lost its dominant position for a very long time. In the year 1254, the Mongolians built the Yuan Dynasty and invaded the southwest. Under the control of the Yuan Dynasty, Kunming County was founded and became the provincial capital of Yunnan. During the whole Yuan Dynasty, the city developed to be a trading center connecting the southwest and the other parts of China. It became a much more famous county and attracted a lot of overseas travelers such as the 13th-century Venetian traveler Marco Polo who traveled to the area and wrote about his fascination with the place.

In the 14th century, the Ming Dynasty defeated the Mongols and took control over Kunming. In 1382, the local government started to reconstruct the city, and a new wall was built surrounding Kunming. It was just the preliminary layout of the current Kunming City. Apart from that, a number of villages around the city proper were also built for the soldiers to live in.

After the building of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty escaped to Kunming and continued his kingship, existing in name only. In 1659, Wu Sangui - a general and then a rebel of the Qing Dynasty, held the city until his death in 1678 and governed the whole of Yunnan atrociously.

Even to the 1910's, due to the corruption of the later Qing Dynasty, the city was inevitably occupied by foreign invaders.

Modern history

Kunming reverted to county status in 1912, under the name Kunming, and became a municipality in 1935. The opening of the Kunming area began in earnest with the completion in 1906-1910 of the Yunnan-Vietnam Railway to Haiphong in North Vietnam (part of French Indochina). Kunming became a treaty port opening to foreign trade in 1908 and soon became a commercial center. In the 1930s its importance grew still further when the first highways were built, linking Kunming with Chongqing in Sichuan and Guiyang in Guizhou to the east.

In December 1949, Kunming City was liberated peacefully and confirmed as the capital of Yunnan Province. After that, Kunming developed rapidly into an industrial metropolis with the construction of large iron and steel and chemical complexes. Since the economic reforms of mid-1980s, Kunming has also enjoyed increased tourism and foreign investment. Nowadays, it becomes one of the most famous tourist cities for its wonderful climate, natural beauty, rich history, and unique culture.

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