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Ningbo Profile

Ningbo (Wade-Giles: Ning-Bo; literally "Tranquil Waves") is a coastal city in the Zhejiang province of China. It lies in the south of the populous Yangtze River delta and faces the East China Sea to the east. It covers an area of 9,365 sq.km and has a population of 5.43 million. The jurisdiction of Ningbo City encompasses two counties (Xiangshan and Ninghai), three county-level cities (Yuyao, Cixi and Fenghua) and six urban districts (Haishu, Jiangdong, Jiangbei, Zhenhai, Beilun and Yinzhou).
Though a sub-provincial city, it enjoys the same rights as possessed by a provincial government in terms of economic management. Ningbo, "a large city" entitled to formulate local laws and regulations, is also a famous historic city with rich cultural heritage. It is the birthplace of the "Neolithic Hemudu Culture" dating back more than 7,000 years. Two thousand years ago, Xu Fu, a necromancer of the Qin Dynasty (221-207 B.C.), led a fleet from here, thus becoming the first to commence China's exchanges with other countries. Ningbo first rose to importance during the latter part of the 5th century, when Korean shipping found it the most convenient port for contacts with the southern capital at Nanjing (Nanking; then called Chien-k'ang). Under the Tang dynasty (618-907) this traffic continued. Although official relations lapsed after 838, private trade continued on a large scale. In the 11th century Ningbo became a centre of the coastal trade. Its importance grew with the establishment of the Southern Song capital at Hangzhou in 1127, when overseas trade to and from the capital flowed through Ningbo. It grew rapidly during the Song (960-1279) and Yuen periods.

The early period of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) brought a setback to Ningbo's development. Overseas trade was deliberately curtailed by the government and the building of oceangoing ships prohibited, and even coastal trade was severely restricted. Ningbo was attacked by Japanese pirates, and it became a defensive base of some importance. Its growth seems to have stagnated, however, until the last quarter of the 15th century, when the rural prosperity of its hinterland began to recover.

This recovery was assisted when the Portuguese began trading in Ningbo in 1545, at first illicitly, but later (after 1567) legally. Still later, Dutch and British merchants arrived, and the Ningbo merchants began to trade with the China coast from Manchuria to Canton, as well as with the Philippines and Taiwan. Ningbo was the commercial centre of the coastal plain to the east of Shaoxing and an outport for the Yangtze River Delta area, to which it was linked by the Zhedong Canal leading to Shaoxing and the Qiantang River. As a result, in the 17th and 18th centuries the Ningbo merchants became important in China's internal commerce and began to play a national role as bankers in the early 19th century. In 1843 Ningbo was opened to foreign trade as a treaty port, but trade declined, and its place was taken by Shanghai.

Ningbo ranked with Yangzhou and Guangzhou as the three biggest ports for foreign trade in Tang Dynasty and with Guangzhou and Quanzhou in Song Dynasty. In the early 20th century "Hong-band" tailors from Ningbo traveled extensively throughout China making their living. And now, Ningbo port is still one of the most important ports in China. Its cargo handling capacity reached 150 million tonnages in 2002, ranking second among the ports in the mainland of China, and its container handling capacity amounted to 1,855,000 TEU.

As it enjoys a sound infrastructural basis, Ningbo has scored remarkable achievements in its social and economic development since the beginning of reform and opening up. In 2002, the city's GDP reached RMB150.03 billion, among which the per capita GDP makes up 3331 dollars, the revenue RMB 25.8 billion. The average disposable income of urban dwellers grew to RMB12,969.9 and the net income of farmers climbed to RMB5,764. Nowadays, Ningbo has become an important industrial city and foreign trade port in east China, a key city and chemical industrial base in the Yangtze River delta and an economic centre of Zhejiang Province.

Of a typical subtropical monsoon climate, Ningbo features mild temperature with moderate humidity and distinctive seasons, and it is an ideal resort to enjoy both natural and cultural endowment. A tranquil coastal city, Ningbo's 500-km coastline forms a scenic seascape. The Sun and the Moon Lakes, dug in the seventh century, are a particularly beautiful sight. The people of Ningbo have throughout their history had a deep affinity for the ocean.

Ningbo has great potentials in its development. Since China adopted the policy of reform and opening, the Ningbo people have pursued the trends of this new era. Visitors may witness the dramatic changes that have taken place in this city: widened roads, more diverse styles of dress on the part of the local people, and Mandarin gradually supplanting the local Ningbo dialect. Ningbo is an active participant in the progressive world trend. By the year 2010, Ningbo will be modernised into a more open international port city that boasts even stronger economy, more advanced science and culture, greater affluence and better social fabrics and environment.

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