Wuhan History

Wuhan, also known as the River City (Jiang Cheng), is situated at the junction of the Hanjiang and Yangtze Rivers. According to archeological discoveries and records, people moved into the area 5,000 years ago. Development of the city can be traced back to the City of Panlong 3,500 years ago.

The site of the ancient town is located in Huangpi County, and it was the first city of the Shang Dynasty (16th - 11th Century BC) discovered in the Yangtze River basin. During the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770BC-221BC), the region was ruled by the Chu State for a long time. The Chu Culture thus became the foundation of the present culture of the city.

Divided by the rivers, Wuhan is comprised of Wuchang, Hanyang and Hankou towns whose histories, scale and rate of development are different.


Wuchang was established in the early years of the Three Kingdom Period. The Wu kingdom prepared to struggle against the Shu Kingdom for Jingzhou and transferred its capital from Jianye (present Nanjing) to Exian County, renaming it Wuchang. Old Wuchang had advanced handicraft industries, such as shipbuilding, metallurgy, coin minting as well as celadon and white porcelain manufacture. Worth mentioning is the rise and decline of the Yellow Crane Tower time and again since the Three Kingdom Period. Each of the dozen reconstructions of the tower has reflected different features of the age, illustrating historical and cultural changes in Wuchang.


The name of Hanyang is linked closely to the Hanjiang River. In ancient Chinese culture, Yang (the opposite of Yin) denotes a place south of a mountain and north of a river. Hanyang gained its name for it is located south of the Tortoise Mountain (Gui Shan) and north of the Hanjiang River. The name was changed from Hanjin in 606 of the Sui Dynasty (581-618) and the town rapidly developed during the Tang Dynasty (618-917). Hanyang, especially the Parrot Island (Yingwu Zhou) area, has been the distribution center for traders on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River since that time, and has prosperous commerce and handicraft industries. Contemporary with the construction of the Wuchang city walls, Hanyang city also has a history of some 1,800 years.


Historically, Hankou developed together with Hanyang for a long while until 1474 of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The Hanjiang River then changed its course to join the Yangtze River at the north foot of Tortoise Mountain, dividing the towns. From then, Hanjiang started 500 years of independent progress. Later on Hankou became a new trade port, greatly surpassing Wuchang and Hanyang in fame and rate of development.

Contemporary Wuhan

Wuhan played an important role in China's contemporary history. Around the 17th Century, Hankou was like an 'eastern Chicago', and listed among the four most famous towns in China. After it was founded as a treaty port in 1861, Hankou became the largest inland trade port of the country. A dozen countries, including Britain, France, Russia, Germany and Japan set up concessions and most of them established consulates. From this, it became a cosmopolitan metropolis in China, just like a state within a state.

Later, in 1911 the Wuchang Uprising began the Xinhai Revolution which symbolized the end of more than 2,000 years of feudal monarchy in China. In 1926, Wuchang, Hankou and Hanyang merged creating modern Wuhan. After the founding of the PRC, The city was approved as a vital engineering and metallurgical industrial city. Eight year later, the first double-deck bridge carrying both road and rail across the Yangtze River was opened to traffic.

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