Suzhou, formerly romanized as Soochow, is a major city in the southeast of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China, adjacent to Shanghai Municipality. The city is on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Taihu Lake and is a part of the Yangtze River Delta region. Administratively, Suzhou is a prefecture-level city with an urban population of over 4 million in its core districts expanding to over 10 million in the administrative area. It is considered one of the richest major cities in China.
Originally founded in 514 BC, Suzhou has over 2,500 years of rich history, and relics of the past are abundant to this day. Circa AD 100, during the Eastern Han Dynasty, it became one of the ten largest cities in the world due to immigration. Since the 10th-century Song Dynasty, it has been an important commercial center of China. During the Ming and Qing Dynasty, Suzhou was the nation's economic, cultural and commercial center, as well as the largest non-capital city in the world, until the 1860 Taiping Rebellion. When Li Hongzhang and Charles George Gordon recaptured the city three years later, Shanghai had already taken its predominant place in the nation.
The city's canals, stone bridges, pagodas, and meticulously designed gardens have contributed to its status as one of the top tourist attractions in China. The classical gardens in Suzhou were added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997 and 2000. Suzhou is often dubbed the "Venice of the East" or "Venice of China".
Suzhou is famous for its classical gardens, in Mandarin collectively called 苏州园林 (Sūzhōu yuánlín). Zhuōzhèng Yuán (Humble Administrator's Garden; 拙政园) and Liúyuán (Lingering Garden; 留园 ) are among the four most famous classical gardens in China. Cānglàng Tíng (Great Wave Pavilion; 沧浪亭), Shīzi Lín (Lion Grove Garden; 狮子林), Zhuōzhèng Yuán and Liúyuán, respectively representing the garden building style of the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties, are called the four most famous gardens in Suzhou.Zhuōzhèng Yuán, Liúyuán, Wǎngshī Yuán (Master of Nets Garden; 网师园) and Huánxiù Shānzhuāng (The Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty; 环秀山庄) were added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997. Shízi Lín, Cānglàng Tíng, Ǒu Yuán (Couple's Retreat Garden; 藕园), Yì Pǔ (Garden of Cultivation; 艺圃) and Tuìsī Yuán (The Retreat & Reflection Garden; 退思园) were added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2000.
Hǔqiū (Tiger Hill; 虎丘) is a popular tourist destination and is known for its natural beauty as well as historical sites. The hill is so named because it is said to look like a crouching tiger. Another legend states that a white tiger appeared on the hill to guard it following the burial of King Hélǘ of Wu (阖闾). The hill has been a tourist destination for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, as is evident from the poetry and calligraphy carved into rocks on the hill. A famous Song Dynasty poet, Sū Shì (苏轼) said, "It is a lifelong pity if having visited Suzhou you did not visit Tiger Hill."
City Tree: Camphor Laurel
City Flower: Osmanthus
Major Companies in Suzhou: Samsung, Hitachi, Phillips