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Beijing: Called "Jing" for short, Beijing is the capital of the People's Republic of China, and is located at the northwestern end of the North China Plain. Initially named Ji, Beijing was the capital of the State of Yan during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) and the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), and the secondary capital under the name of Yanjing during the Liao Dynasty (916-1125). It also served as the capital during the Jin (1115-1234), Yuan (1279-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties and the early period of the Republic of China (1912-1949), and was called Zhongdu, Dadu, Beiping and Beijing respectively. It was established as a municipality in 1928.

Covering an area of 16,800 square km and with a population of 13.82 million (4.14 million in 1949), Beijing has under its jurisdiction 16 districts and two counties. A municipality directly under the Central Government, it is one of the Chinese cities open to foreigners.

Beijing is China's political, cultural, scientific and educational center as well as a hub of communications. Having served as a capital city for more than 800 years, Beijing abounds in places of historic interest and scenic spots, including the Palace Museum, the Temple of Heaven, the Ming Tombs (tombs of 13 Ming emperors) and the Badaling Section of the Great Wall. Beijing has become an international metropolis with charisma and features of both a modern and an old city.


Shanghai: Called "Hu" for short, Shanghai is located at the estuary of the Yangtze River in the middle section of China's eastern coast. A fishing village in ancient times, Shanghai was under the State of Wu during the Spring and Autumn Period. It was established as a town under the name of Shanghai in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), and became a city in 1927.

One of China's four municipalities directly under the Central Government, Shanghai has under its jurisdiction 18 districts and one county, covering 6,340.5 square km and with a population of 16.74 million (5.03 million in 1949). Shanghai is the largest city in China and the country's top industrial city and commercial and financial center. It is also the largest industrial and scientific and technological base in China and a major international port in the Western Pacific region.


Tianjin: Called "Jin” for short, Tianjin is located in north China, where the Haihe River empties into the Bohai Sea. Named Zhigu during the Jin and Yuan dynasties, Tianjin was an important transportation hub. Later the settlement of a town under the name of Haijin was built. The settlement became a garrison town named Tianjinwei (Defense of the Heavenly Ford) in the early Ming Dynasty and was the seat of Tianjin prefectural government during the Qing Dynasty. It became a city in 1928.

A municipality directly under the Central Government since 1949, Tianjin has 15 districts and three counties under its jurisdiction with a population of 10.01 million (3.99 million in 1949). It is one of China's 14 open coastal cities, covering more than 11,000 square km.

Tianjin is a large industrial city, a major commercial center and a port in north China. It has rich oil, gas and sea salt resources. Scenic spots and historical sites in Tianjin include Tianhougong Temple, Dagukou Battery, Dule Temple (Monastery of Solitary Happiness) in Jixian County, the Great Wall at Huangyaguan and Panshan Mountain, known as No.1 mountain east of Beijing.


Chongqing: Called "Yu" for short, Chongqing is located on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River in the east of southwest China. It was under the State of Ba during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period and was administered by Yuzhou during the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties. It was the secondary capital of the Kuomintang government during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45).

In 1997, Chongqing was designated as a municipality directly under the Central Government, consisting of three prefectural-level cities–Chongqing, Wanxian and Fuling–and Qianjiang Prefecture formerly under Sichuan Province. Covering 82,300 square km and with a population of 30.9 million, Chongqing has under its jurisdiction 15 districts, four county-level cities, 25 counties and five autonomous counties, of which 10 cities and counties are open to foreigners.

Because of its geographical location, Chongqing has been known as one of the three large "ovens" along the Yangtze River. Chongqing is also nicknamed a "foggy city" due to its foggy weather in winter and spring. As a comprehensive industrial city, Chongqing has rich forest and mineral resources, as well as tourist attractions.

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