Well-to-do Jiāngsū is the envy of its neighbours because of its lush, wet landscape and fertile topography. Because of its abundant agriculture, it’s been dubbed the ‘land of fish and rice’ since ancient times. Situated on the east coast bordering the East China Sea, it’s one of China’s most densely populated provinces and also one of the most prosperous.
Jiāngsū owes its wealth to the ancient waterways of the Yangzi River and the Grand Canal, which served as the main systems of transport in early times. Jiāngsū made much of its fortune through silk and salt, which was panned off its low-lying marshy coast.
The Grand Canal slices its way from northern Jiāngsū into the lower reaches of the flourishing Yangzi River Delta. The canal, once navigable all the way from Hángzhōu in Zhèjiāng province to Běijīng, has largely silted up but still remains alive in southern Jiāngsū. Some of the province’s most historical cities sit by the canal, including the vibrant commercial centres of Sūzhōu and Yángzhōu. The Yangzi River flows through the south of Jiāngsū, serving as an important trading route between the provincial capital of Nánjīng and Shànghǎi.
If you’re interested in Chinese history, Jiāngsū has plenty to offer. Cosmopolitan Nánjīng has served as China’s capital and has some fascinating museums and historical attractions to explore. Sūzhōu and Yángzhōu are famed for their elegant gardens and fine silk, while the ancient river town of Wúxī serves as a base for scenic Lake Tai. The well-preserved canal towns of Tónglǐ and Mùdú offer close-up views of a China fast disappearing.