Ningbo is located in the east of the Zhejiang Province with Hangzhou Bay to the north, Shaoxing to the west, Taizhou to the south, and Zhoushan to the northeast. It is a famous historical and cultural city in China and one of the Three Economic Centers in the Zhejiang Province thanks to Ningbo Port which has the largest cargo handling capacity in China. The city is the hometown of many overseas Chinese with over 4.3 million Ningbo people living in over 50 countries of the world. The total population reached as high as 7.61 million by the end of 2010 (including an urban population of 5.19 million at 68.31% of the total).
A cradle of Chinese Hemudu culture, Ningbo has a long history of over 7,000 years. It was the starting point of the ancient Maritime Silk Road in the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), functioning as a major seaport for foreign trade together with Gangzhou and Yangzhou. In the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279), it functioned as one of the biggest port cities in the country in addition with Guagnzhou and Quanzhou. After the First Opium War (Britain's invasion of China from 1840 to 1842), Ningbo was opened up as one of the 5 treaty ports in China in addition with Guangzhou, Xiamen, Fuzhou, and Shanghai. Now it is the most prosperous city in the Zhejiang Province, and Ningbo Port functions as a part of the Shanghai International Shipping Port, providing functional access to more than 600 liners to 216 countries.
Within the 9,365 square kilometers administrative area, Ningbo is composed of 6 districts, 2 counties, and 3 county-level cities, namely Haishu District, Jiangdong District, Jiangbei District, Jinzhou District, Zhenhai District, and Beilun District; Ninghai County and Xiangshan County; and Cixi, Yuyao and Fenghua.
The topography lowers from southwest to northeast in Ningbo; it is composed of a mountainous area, hilly area, terrace area, basin area, and plains area, each constituting 24.9%, 25.2%, 1.5%, 8.1%, and 40.3% of the total respectively. The average altitude in the city center is 45.8 meters above sea level. Ningbo has a meandering coastline of 1,562 kilometers long with 531 isles dotted along the way, and the sea area covers an area of 9,758 square kilometers.
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