Jiangsu (江苏; Jiāngsū) is located on a 1000-km (600-odd mile) stretch of the East coast of China, just North of Shanghai. The Yangtze River and the Grand Canal both cross the province, and there are many other historical attractions, several of which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Suzhou has China's best-known classical gardens, while Nanjing has been the capital of several dynasties and has much history, including the mausoleum of Sun Yat-Sen. This is also the province where the Nobel prize-winning American author, Pearl Buck, lived and worked.
Jiangsu is China's fifth most populous province (78 million, somewhat more than France), and one of its most prosperous. Compared to other Chinese provinces, it has both the highest population density and the highest per capita GDP. Major industries include electronic equipment, chemicals and textiles. Overall GDP is about half that of India.
Jiangsu has 13 prefectures, around the following 13 cities:
- Nanjing - the capital of Jiangsu Province, a historical city that was the capital of 6 dynasties and the Republic of China.
- Nantong - major river port near Shanghai
- Suzhou - famous for its classic gardens, a major tourist destination
- Wuxi - industrial city near Suzhou
- Xuzhou - Jiangsu's largest city
- Zhenjiang - a major tourist attraction for its temples and museums
- Kunshan - a rapidly growing town between Shanghai and Suzhou
- Zhouzhuang - a water town with many ancient buildings and traditional Jiangnan lifestyle
Jiangnan translates as south Jiangsu but the region it refers to is somewhat broader, the whole area where the Wu culture dominated historically and the Wu language is still common. It is centered in the region around Lake Tai on the Jiangsu-Zhejiang border, an area that includes Suzhou. Other parts area the Yangtze Delta area, including Shanghai, and parts of Zhejiang as far south as Hangzhou.
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Averages for the city
Jiangsu is well connected by road, rail and air to the rest of the country and world.
Shanghai has many international flights and Nanjing some, including a new direct service to Frankfurt on Lufthansa; both those cities also have many domestic flights. Wuxi, Nantong and Changzhou have airports for domestic flights.
There are good bus and train links within the province, plus some boats on the Yangtze and other waterways.
The roads are good so you could consider renting a car and driver, or even driving yourself. See Driving in China.
Jiangsu can be broadly divided into two linguistic regions. The southern part of the province is Wu ("Shanghainese") speaking while the northern part is Mandarin speaking. The Suzhou (not Shanghai) dialect of Wu is traditionally considered to be the prestige dialect, so learners Wu will find it spoken in the "purest" form there. The Nanjing dialect of Mandarin differs significantly in pronunciation from standard Mandarin, but nevertheless is still mutually intelligible.
The Presidential Palace. Historically the site of a number of important government officials, it is also a beautiful garden, an oasis from the noisy, bustling city. About ¥40 a person.
Purple Mountain. Although the base is crowded, for ¥60 a person, there is a chair lift to the top which is scenic. Again, a nice getaway from the city.
Suzhou has many water-towns. These are cities interlaced by rivers and streams. The main means of tranportation was once by water. Zhouzhuang is the most famous of the water townships.