Kunming is the capital and largest city of Yunnan Province in Southwestern China. As a prefecture-level city, it is the political, economical and cultural centre of Yunnan. Furthermore, it is the seat of the provincial government. It is also 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 as well. The city 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 about 1,900 m above sea level and at a latitude just north of the Tropic of Cancer. It covers an area of 21,501 square kilometres (8,302 sq mi) while its urban area covers 6,200 square kilometres (2,390 sq mi). Kunming has an estimated population of 6.5 million people and is located at the northern edge of the large Lake Dian, surrounded by temples and lake-and-limestone hill landscapes. (Wikipedia, 2014)
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. Kunming was formerly called Yunnanfu until the 1920s.
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, mainly 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 railroad 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.
Located at an elevation of 1,890 m on the Yungui Plateau with low latitude and high elevation, Kunming has one of the mildest climates in China, characterised by short, cool dry winters with mild days and crisp nights, and long, warm and humid summers, but much cooler than the lowlands. The weather never gets very hot in summer; the temperature has exceeded 30 °C (86 °F) only on a handful of occasions. However, freak snowfalls occur in occasional winters. Controlled by a subtropical highland climate (Köppen Cwb), average highs are around 15 °C (59 °F) in winter and 24 °C (75 °F) in summer. With its perpetual spring-like weather which provides the ideal climate for plants and flowers, Kunming is known as the "City of Eternal Spring". The city is covered with blossoms and lush vegetation all-year round. The period from May to October is the rainy season and the rest of the year is dry. The city has a mean annual rainfall of 1,010 millimetres (40 in), with an annual sunshine period of 2,250 hours and an annual frost-free period of 230 days. Extreme temperatures in the city have ranged from −7.8 °C (18 °F) to 32.2 °C (90 °F).
Kunming is among the most famous historical and cultural cities and one of the top tourist cities in China. Due to its pleasant climate, plateau scenery, age-old history, diverse ethnic customs, and unique plants and animals, Kunming attracts domestic and foreign tourists all year round. As the tourism center of Yunnan province, Kunming has also been a transport hub, from where tourists can go easily to places such as Dali, Lijiang and Shangrila. Kunming is located in an earthquake zone and the last earthquake happened in 2009.
Over 24 million domestic tourists visited Kunming in 2007, with 800,000 foreign tourists visiting annually. Kunming's total revenue from tourism in 2007 was 16.8 billion yuan, an increase of 8.0% over 2006.
Kunming hosts the China International Travel Mart every two years. This tourism trade fair is the largest of its kind in Asia and serves as an important platform for professionals in the sector. More than 80 countries and regions were present during the 2005 edition.
Conferencing and exhibition venues in Kunming include the Kunming International Convention and Exhibition Center and the Yunnan Provincial Science and Technology Hall.
Yunnan has developed into the largest flower export base in Asia, with many Dutch experts having transferred technology to the area. The Dounan Flower Market, located in suburban Kunming, is the largest in China with daily sales of 2.5 million yuan (USD 300,000) from the 2 million sprays of flowers (as of 2006). The provincial government agency, the Yunnan Flower Association, regulates the industry.
Chenggong, already a major source of fresh flowers in China has plans to emerge as the "Flower Hub of Asia". The county, 20 minutes drive from central Kunming has a flourishing flower trade: according to the Kunming Administration Public Information Service Web, Chenggong exported 812 tons of flowers to Singapore in year of 2007 with volume of trade clocking in at US ,300,000.
Authorities in Kunming have formulated plans for the development of each district in Chenggong. While Kunming's administrative authorities have already moved to Chenggong, a number of key universities in Yunnan like Yunnan University and Yunnan Normal University are also relocating to the area. With Chenggong already home to Kunming International Airport and the Kunming International Flora Auction Trading Center Co., Ltd. the county has positioned itself as one of China's main flower producers.
The "Kunming International Flower Exhibition" is now held every year. It is organized by the Government of Yunnan province and sponsored by Yunnan Flower Industry Office, CCPIT Yunnan branch and Yunnan EXPO Group.
For further reading and more information on Yunnan's capital Kunming please click here.