Kungming 昆明 is the capital and largest city in Yunnan Province, Southwest China. Known as Yunnan-Fu (云南府, Yúnnánfǔ) until the 1920s, today it is a prefecture-level city and the political, economic, communications and cultural centre of the province as well as the seat of the provincial government. Kunming is also called the Spring city due to its weather. The city is home to several universities, museums, galleries and other important economic, cultural, and educational institutions. The headquarters of many of Yunnan’s large businesses are in Kunming. It was important during World War II as a Chinese military center, American air base, and transport terminus for the Burma Road. Located in the middle of the Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau, Kunming is located at an altitude of 1,900 metres (6,234 feet) above sea level and at a latitude just north of the Tropic of Cancer. It covers an area of 21,473 square kilometres (8,291 sq mi) and its urban area covers 2,622 square kilometres (1,012 sq mi). Kunming has as of 2014 a population of 6,626,000 with an urban population of 4,575,000, and is located at the northern edge of the large Lake Dian, surrounded by temples and lake-and-limestone hill landscapes.
Kunming consists of an old, previously walled city, a modern commercial district, residential and university areas. The city has an astronomical observatory, and its institutions of higher learning include Yunnan University, Yunnan Normal University and a medical college. On the outskirts is a famed bronze temple, dating from the Ming dynasty.
Its economic importance derives from its geographical position. Positioned near the border with Southeastern Asian countries, serving as a transportation hub in Southwest China, linking by rail to Vietnam and by road to Burma and Laos. This positioning also makes it an important trade center in this region of the nation. It also houses some manufacturing, chiefly copper, though some other chemicals, machinery, textiles, paper and cement take key. Though having a nearly 2,400 year history, its modern prosperity dates only from 1910, when the railway from Hanoi was built. The city has continued to develop rapidly under China’s modernization efforts. Kunming’s streets have widened while office buildings and housing projects develop at a fast pace. Kunming has been designated a special tourism center and as such sports a proliferation of high-rises and luxury hotels.
Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, is known as ‘the City of Eternal Spring’ for its pleasant climate and flowers that bloom all year long. With a history of more than 2,400 years, it was the gateway to the celebrated Silk Road that facilitated trade with Tibet, Sichuan, Myanmar, India and beyond. Today it is the provincial political, economical and cultural center of Yunnan as well as the most popular tourist destination in southwest China.