Wuhan(武汉; Wǔhn) is an interesting large city in the inland central area of China
that somehow feels less modernized than China’s coastal cities or
Beijing, but it is one of China’s main high-tech, education and
financial centers. It is China’s 10th largest city. It is
interesting for tourists because there are scenic areas and the big
Yangtze River. The people are unusually cordial to foreigners.
Because it is right in the middle of the navigable part of the
Yangtze River between Shanghai on the coast and Sichuan and
Chongqing far to the west, it has long been a transportation hub.
The old town of Hankou that is now a part of modern Wuhan was
China’s second largest commercial center after Shanghai during the
1800s and early part of the 1900s. Prices for meals and
transportation are low, transportation to the city is unusually
convenient, and it is an interesting tourist destination and a good
place to start a tour of the Yangtze River basin.
Wuhan is now the capital of Hubei Province that is an inland
province. It has a population of about 10 million people in its
administrative area, with about 6,000,000 people in the main urban
area and about 4,000,000 people in surrounding suburbs and towns.
It is divided into three parts by the Yangtze River and Han River.
The Wuchang district is the education center with many universities
and research centers, the Hankou area is the financial and business
district, and the Hanyang district is the industrial center.
This city has a certain charm about it. The people are unusual
friendly compared to those in other cities. And if you have the
time for a cruise, you might really enjoy going up the Yangtze on a
The city was originally three different towns around the place
where the Han River merged with the Yangtze River (Changjiang, 长江,
“long river”). The Yangtze River generally flows west to east
across central China, and in the area of Wuhan, it flows from the
southwest to the northeast. The much smaller Han River enters from
The town on the southern bank of the Yangtze was called Wuchang. It
was long known as an education center for Confucian scholars and
literati, and for its arts, and it was a provincial capital during
the Yuan (Mongolian) Dynasty. The town on the north bank of the Han
River and the Yantze was called Hankou.
It was a financial and merchants center, and when the British
controlled it during the 1800s, it became the second biggest
financial and merchant center in China after Shanghai. The town on
the south bank of the Han River between the Han and the Yangtze was
called Hanyang. Now, it is the industrial area of the city with car
factories, heavy industries, and advanced industries.
The British invaded the area during the middle of the 1800s, and
used Hankou as a trading port. Goods from all over the British
Empire, 1/7 of the world’s land area, came in on ships and were
traded for goods from all over China, the most populous country in
the world. The British had a small enclave along the river in
Hankou of about 30 kilometers in area, and they built some
buildings that still stand.
There is a large beautiful customs building that is still standing.
It must have seemed very imposing then, since the architectural
methods were advanced. Railroads were built that connected the
British port with northern China, so it became one of the busiest
ports in China. The Yangtze River allowed steamboats to carry
merchandise more than 1,000 kilometers inland from the coast.
In the last century, the area that is now called Wuhan was the
scene of some important political events. First, starting about
1906, the Qing Dynasty governor of the area promoted the
development of modern industry and education by founding important
industries and opening modern schools and universities. Most of
these universities were built in Wuchang. He wanted to modernize
the area under his jurisdiction, so Wuhan became a leading city in
China for industry, education and culture.
In 1911, there was a revolt against the Qing Dynasty government in
the city promoted by Sun Yat-Sen, and then there was conflict all
over China. In 1927, the Chinese KMT Nationalist government
organized the old towns of Hankou, Hanyang and Wuchang into a city
that was the capital city of China. The national government met in
the Hankou District for a short time. In 1939, Wuhan became a
Japanese military headquarters, and the city was destroyed by the
US Air Force in 1944.