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Social Economy of Yuan Dynasty

Under the wise governing the Mongolian rulers, the social economy in the Yuan Dynasty in early period developed fairly well in agriculture, handicraft industry, commerce and foreign trade.

The agriculture was the major economy of the Yuan Dynasty. Although the Mongolian people were a nomadic people who originally lived on the grassland for generations, Kublai Khan focused much attention on the agricultural production after the founding of Yuan Dynasty. The following emperors also advocated replacing the traditional animal husbandry with agriculture. As a result, no matter in the production technique, the farming area or the food output, the Yuan Dynasty surpassed the previous dynasties.

The most prosperous handicraft industry in the Yuan Dynast was the textile industry. As the cotton planting became more and more popular in the southern areas of China, the development of the textile industry was greatly stimulated and reached a fairly advanced level. A woman named Huang Daopo from Songjiang area (currently in Shanghai urban area) improved and invented the new cotton textile technology, which made Shanghai and the near regions become the earliest national cotton textile industry center.

Both the surplus goods and the convenient water transport was the prerequisite of the commercial development of the Yuan Dynasty. In the early period of Yuan, a 51-mile long grand canal, named Tonghui River by Kublai Khan, was constructed in the capital city Dadu (currently Beijing). This provided much convenience for the food transport from southern areas to the capital. Additionally, the large circulation of paper currency further prospered the domestic business affairs.

Meanwhile, rulers of the Yuan Dynasty adopted an open policy to develop the economy. On the one hand, more ports in the coastal areas were opened for goods transport; on the other hand, foreign goods were welcomed to enter the domestic market. Under this policy, great amount of spices and medical materials were imported from Arabia, Persia and India while China's silk and porcelain in large number were exported to Europe.

The unprecedented prosperity of the marine Silk Road became the most direct momentum of the domestic economical development hence was the highlight of the social economy of the Yuan Dynasty. Thanks to this, the Yuan Dynasty in that period was regarded as one of the richest countries in the world.