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Kunming Municipality, A prefecture-level city under Yunnan Province, In Chinese [昆明市]

Kunming History

2011/7/12 13:38:00    【Big Medium Small】 【Print】    Visitors:1350


Kunming’s history goes back over 2,000 years to 279 BC, when a general of the Chu Kingdom settled with his troops near Lake Dianchi. In AD 109, during the reign of Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty, the city of “Kunzhou” was established to the southeast of present-day Kunming. Towards the end of the Yuan Dynasty, the area became known ‘as Kunming County. In 1832, a traditional walled city was erected, which became Kunming municipality in 1928. From its founding through the 19th century, this isolated provincial capital was the region’s major market and transport center. Until this century, Kunming was an archetypal Chinese city-characterized by congestion, dirt, and a maze of winding cul-de-sac crooked lanes lined with one-and two-story wood and mud-brick buildings. The residents were considered “provincial” and Kunming was considered a hardship post by Chinese administrators sent there to govern the province. Until 1949, many of Beijing’s political “undesirables” were banished here.

Kunming in the Revolution. Although the completion of the French Indochina Rail Line into Kunming in 1910 stimulated the city’s commercial development, major changes and sizable growth did not occur until the Japanese invasion of China and the onset of World War II. When the Nationalists moved their capital to Chongqing, refugees from East China poured westward, with many reaching Kunming. Moreover, thousands of Yunnanese peasants from the countryside migrated to work in the numerous factories that were established. During the Second World War, the US Air Force’s “Flying Tigers” were based in Kunming. In fact, the foundation and basic design of Kunming’s present airport is a legacy of US military forces. Inevitably the impact of the 1937-45 period eroded the city’s parochialism and brought a gradual turn toward more progressive and more modern attitudes.

Today, urban Kunming resembles other major Chinese cities. Industrial and commercial districts have been established, new, wide streets and modern office buildings have been built, and roads and railroads now connect the city with the surrounding region and other parts of China.

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