Suzhou, formerly romanized as Soochow, is a major city located in southeastern Jiangsu Province of East China, about 100 km (62 mi) northwest of Shanghai. It is a major economic center and focal point of trade and commerce, and the second largest city in the province after the capital Nanjing. The city is situated on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and the shores of Lake Tai and belongs to the Yangtze River Delta region. Administratively, Suzhou is a prefecture-level city with a population of 4.33 million in its city proper, and a total resident population (as of 2013) of 10.58 million in its administrative area. Its urban population grew at an unprecedented rate of 6.5% between 2000 and 2014, which is the highest among cities with more than 5 million people.
Suzhou, the cradle of Wu culture, is one of the oldest towns in the Yangtze Basin. By the Spring and Autumn period of the Zhou, local tribes named the Gou Wu are recorded living in the area which would become the modern city of Suzhou. These tribes formed villages on the edges of the hills above the wetlands surrounding Lake Tai.
Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian records traditional accounts that the Zhou lord Taibo established the state of Wu at nearby Wuxi during the 11th century BC, civilizing the local people and improving their agriculture and mastery of irrigation. The Wu court later moved to Gusu within the area of modern Suzhou. In 514 BC, King Helü of Wu relocated his court nearby and called the settlement Helü City after himself. His minister Wu Zixu was closely involved with its planning and it was this site that grew into present-day Suzhou. The height of his tower on Gusu Hill (Gusutai) passed into Chinese legend. In 496 BC, King Helü was buried at Tiger Hill. In 473 BC, Wu was defeated and annexed by Yue, a kingdom to its southeast; Yue was annexed in turn by Chu in 306 BC. Remnants of the ancient kingdom include pieces of its 2,500-year-old city wall and the gate through it at Pan Gate.
Suzhou’s economy is based primarily on its large manufacturing sector—China’s second largest—including iron and steel, IT and electronic equipment, and textile products. The city’s service sector is notably well-developed, primarily owing to tourism, which brought in a total of RMB 152 billion of revenue in 2013. Suzhou’s overall GDP exceeded RMB 1.3 trillion in 2013 (up 9.6 percent from the year previous).
The city is also one of China’s foremost destinations for foreign investment, based on its relative proximity to Shanghai and comparatively low operating costs. The municipal government has enacted various measures to encourage FDI in a number of manufacturing (e.g. pharmaceutical, electronic goods, automobile) and service (e.g. banking, logistics, research services) sectors. Included among these measures is a preferential tax policy for limited partnership venture capital enterprises in the Suzhou Industrial Park.
Suzhou Guide Map
Suzhou is located in southern Jiangsu Province in the center of the Yangtze Delta. Shanghai lies to the east, Zhejiang Province to the south, Wuxi City to the west and the Yangtze River to the north. The city is divided by the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal from north to south. Since 42% area of the city is covered by water, including a vast number of ponds and streams, it is praised as the ‘Venice of the Orient’. Built in 514 BC, this is an ancient city with over 2,500 years of history. The unique characteristics of the past are still retained today. The double-chessboard layout of the city, with ‘the streets and rivers going side by side while the water and land routes running in parallel’, is preserved intact.