In the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Taihu Lake lies the 2,500-year-old city of Suzhou (Water Town), the cradle of Wu culture.
The name "Wu" often applied to refer to Suzhou, derived from the local tribes who named themselves "Gou Wu" in the late Shang dynasty about 11th century BC. Later, King Helu of Wu State in 514 BC built his capital here known as the 'Great City of Helu' and since then the city's site and scale have remained virtually unchanged, making Suzhou a rare city of historical and cultural renown in the world.
The natural scenery of hills and waters in Suzhou is as charming as a delicate beauty. Of the whole area, 10% is cultivated fields, 30% hills and the rest covered with water.
Streets and alleys in Suzhou extend side by side with canals. Small bridges and flowing waters, white walls and dark grey roof tiles match one another in tranquil elegance.
Suzhou is best known for its landscaped gardens, over 150 of them. Suzhou's gardens are not known for their size, but their delicate designs, containing hills and ponds, terraces, corridors, towers, and almost everything that is needed in an "imperial garden".
Endowed with abundant native produce, the rich and exquisite Suzhou cuisine sets a style of its own on this "land of plenty". The traditional performing arts of Suzhou are best represented by the Kunqu Opera, Suzhou Opera and Ballad singing, reputed both in China and overseas for their minute acting and harmonic melody.
Today's Suzhou is an open city with developed economy and frequent exchanges with the outside world. It has officially been declared part of "the coastal economic open zone of the Yangtze Delta". Comprehensive industrial system has taken shape, and there has been tremendous expansion in foreign trade and international economic co-operation. Currently, Suzhou has sister cities in Italy, Canada, Japan and the United States.
Recognized in the old times as the "most aspiring city of prosperity and civilization in the Southeast", Suzhou is favored by geographical, natural and human factors in its development. It is indeed a land of fertile resources and place of talents.
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