Fast Facts of Wenzhou
The history of Wenzhou dates back to more than 4,000 years ago. During the Spring Autumn and Warring States Periods of the ancient China, it was a part of the Yue State, controlling the then southern China. Around 192 B.C, Wenzhou was governed by Zou Yao, a Dong’ou king. In 323 A.D. during the Jin Dynasty, it became the center of the Yongjia prefecture. Wenzhou got its current name in 675 A.D. during the Tang Dynasty. In the history, Wenzhou was well-known for its handicraft industry, especially pottery, paper-making, ship-building, silk, embroidery and lacquer etc. In the Southern Song Dynasty, commerce prospered in Wenzhou as it became one of ports for foreign trade. After the Opium War between China under the Qing Dynasty and the British Empire, Wenzhou was forced to open up as a foreign trade port. In 1894, the British built their consulate on the Jiangxin Islet to start their trade with Wenzhou.
Besides Mandarin, the official language of China, Wenzhou native people also speak their own dialect, a variation of Wu Chinese spoken by natives of Shanghai and Hangzhou. The local dialect, affected by Wenzhou’s special geography and the Min Chinese speakers in the neighboring Fujian Province, forms its unique pronunciation and speech, making it one of the most difficult dialects in China. For people from other places out of Wenzhou, it is quite hard to understand the Wenzhou dialect. In addition, due to the isolation by mountains in the history, the dialect even evolves to vary from town to town in Wenzhou. Generally speaking, the local dialect spoken by natives from Lucheng District in Wenzhou is considered the standard Wenzhou dialect.
Wenzhou is the most populous city in Zhejiang Province. As of November 2010, the number of Wenzhou’s permanent residents reached 9,122,100, including 2,842,200 residents immigrating from other places out of Wenzhou.
Most Wenzhou people practice Chinese folk religions, which deeply combines with Wenzhou’s local culture and customs. In addition, Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity are also mainstream religions in the area of Wenzhou.
Before the establishment of the new China in 1949, the religion in Wenzhou was highly developed with nearly 2,000 places for religious activities, 4,500 monks, nuns, Taoist priests, and 11,5000 Christians. The city has been for centuries a hub of Christian missionary activity in China. Although religious activities were repressed after 1949 in the area of Wenzhou, many shrines, Buddhist temples, Taoist temples and churches have survived. The folk religious activities never stopped and the number of Christians increased.
After the implementation of the new government policy on religion in 1978, religious activities quickly revived. The economic growth in Wenzhou also injected a large amount of money into religious activities. A great many shrines, Buddhist temples, Taoist temples and churches were restored and many new ones were built. At present, there are more than 4,000 places for religious activities in Wenzhou, and religious festivals and activities are fully open and public.
At present, the Wenzhou Municipal Government has jurisdiction over Lucheng District (1), Longwan District (2) and Ouhai District (3), three districts in the city’s urban area, Yueqing City (5) and Rui’an City (4), two county-level cities, as well as Yongjia County (7), Dongtou County (6), Pingyang County (8), Cangnan County (9), Wencheng County (10) and Taishun County (11), six counties in the suburban area. The government administers 60 sub-districts, 64 townships, 6 townlets, 5,403 village committees and 687 neighborhood committees. Lucheng District, the downtown area of Wenzhou, is also the seat of the Wenzhou Municipal Government.
The Han Chinese constitute around 97% of the total population in Wenzhou. Meanwhile, there are different ethnical minority groups living in Wenzhou, which take up approximately 3%. Among them, She minority, Shangjia minority, Miao minority, Dong minority, Buyi minority and Hui minority are six biggest ethnical groups living in Wenzhou, whose population exceeds 10,000 respectively.
The She people are Wenzhou’s major ethnical minority group, who have lived in this area for centuries. With a total population of more than 80,000, they largely distribute in Wencheng County, Taishun County, Pingyang County and Cangnan County. These minorities’ long history, unique language, and splendid culture make Wenzhou’s local culture more colorful and diverse.
Located on the coastlines of the East China Sea in the southeastern Zhejiang Province, the city of Wenzhou borders Fujian Province on the south, Lishui City on the west and Taizhou City on the north. Wenzhou has a total land area of 11,784 square kilometers and a total maritime space of 11,000 square kilometers. The urban area of Wenzhou takes up 1,187 square kilometers, including Lucheng District, Longwan District and Ouhai District.
The terrain of Wenzhou slopes from the southwest to the northeast with Donggong Mountains, Kuocang Mountains and Yandang Mountains stretching around. The Baiyun Peak, rising 1,611 meters high in Taishun County, is the highest in Wenzhou. On the east of Wenzhou lies plains with different rivers crisscrossing. There are more than 150 rivers in Wenzhou, including Ou River, Aojiang River and Feiyun River. As a coastal city, Wenzhou owns a total coastline of 355 kilometers with 436 islands, offering abundant marine resources and making some natural seaports in Dongtou County and Yueqing City.
The current city name Wenzhou derives from its mild climate, a humid subtropical climate with short, mild winters and long, hot, humid summers. The average annual temperature remains between 17.3°C and 19.4°C, and the monthly average temperature varies from 4.9-9.9 °C in January to 26.7-29.6 °C in July.
There is abundant rainfall in Wenzhou with the annual precipitation ranging from 1,113 mm to 2,494 mm. Wenzhou has a relatively long rainy period during late spring and early summer, the so-called plum rain season, and typhoons often visit the area in the second half of summer, bringing heavy rainfall and causing considerable damages. On average, Wenzhou receives 1,706 hours of bring sunshine annually.