China’s earliest cities evolved in the 15th century bc under the Shang dynasty. Cities were long important to the ceremonial (administrative and quasi-religious) functions and material support of the Chinese court, many originating as administrative or government centres, and also were important market centres. In the 20th century, and especially since the 1950s, Chinese cities have gained great importance as industrial centres.
According to 1993 estimates, China has 40 cities with populations exceeding 1 million. China’s largest cities, with their population figures, include Shanghai, 13,680,800 (2006 estimate), the country’s largest city and a major port; Beijing, 11,807,000 (2005 estimate), the capital and cultural centre of China; Tianjin, 9,393,100 (2007 estimate), a port city at the juncture of the Hai River and the Grand Canal; Shenyang, 6,800,000 (2002 estimate); Wuhan, 7,811,900 (2003 estimate), a port city at the confluence of the Han and Yangzi rivers, and Guangzhou, 7,607,220 (2006 estimate), a port city on the Zhu Jiang (Pearl River). All of these cities have developed large industrial bases. "China" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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