Suzhou (/sˈ/;[5] Chinese: 苏州; Suzhounese: [səu tsøʏ], Mandarin: [sú.ʈʂóu]), alternately romanized as Soochow, is a major city in southeastern Jiangsu Province of East China, its city center being 100 km (62 mi) west of that of Shanghai and outer suburbs of the two global hubs meet. It is a major economic center and focal point of trade and commerce, and Jiangsu's second-largest, surpassed by its capital Nanjing. The city's north waterfront is on a lower reach of the Yangtze whereas it has its more focal south-western waterfront on Lake Tai crossed by several waterways, its district belongs to the Yangtze River Delta region. Administratively, Suzhou is a prefecture-level city with a population of 4.33 million in the city proper, and a total resident population (as of 2013) of 10.58 million in its administrative area.[6][7] Its urban population grew at an unprecedented rate of 6.5% between 2000 and 2014, which is the highest among cities with more than 5 million people.[8][9]

Soochow, Sou-tseu
Skyline of Jinji Lake in 2020
Location in Jiangsu
Location of the city center in Jiangsu
Suzhou (Eastern China)
Suzhou (China)
Coordinates (Suzhou municipal government): 31°17′59″N 120°35′07″E
CountryPeople's Republic of China
County-level divisions11
Established514 BC
Municipal seatGusu District
  TypePrefecture-level city
  Party SecretaryLan Shaomin
  MayorLi Yaping
  Prefecture-level city8,488.42 km2 (3,277.40 sq mi)
  Land6,093.92 km2 (2,352.88 sq mi)
  Water2,394.50 km2 (924.52 sq mi)
2,743 km2 (1,059 sq mi)
  Prefecture-level city10,721,700
  Density1,300/km2 (3,300/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+8 (Beijing Time)
Postal code
Area code(s)512
ISO 3166 codeCN-JS-05
GDP (2018)
  • Total

CNY 1.86 trillion
USD $280.92 billion
PPP $528.42 billion

  • Per capita

CNY 174,129
USD $26,303
PPP $49,477

  • Growth: 7%
HDI (2015)0.868– very high[3]
City flowerOsmanthus
City treeCamphor laurel
Regional dialectWu: Suzhou dialect
License plate prefix苏E and 苏U[4]
"Suzhou" in Simplified (top) and Traditional (bottom) Chinese characters
Simplified Chinese苏州
Traditional Chinese蘇州

Founded in 514 BC, Suzhou has had a long and productive history. Local museums host abundant displays of its relics and many sites of historical interest exist. Around AD 100, during the Eastern Han Dynasty, it became one of the ten largest cities in the world mostly due to emigration from Northern China.[10][11] Since the 10th-century Song dynasty, it has been an important commercial center of China. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, Suzhou was a national economic, cultural, and commercial[12] center, as well as the largest non-capital city in the world, until the 1860 Taiping Rebellion.[13] When Li Hongzhang and Charles George Gordon recaptured the city three years later, Shanghai had already taken its predominant place in the nation.[14] Since major economic reforms began in 1978, Suzhou has become one of the fastest growing major cities in the world, with GDP growth rates of about 14% in the past 35 years.[6][15] With high life expectancy and per capita incomes, Suzhou's Human Development Index ratings is roughly comparable to a moderately developed country, making it one of the most highly developed and prosperous cities in China.[3]

Suzhou is also one of the top 50 major cities in the world by scientific research outputs as tracked by the Nature Index,[16] and home to multiple major universities in China,[17] including Soochow University, Suzhou University of Science and Technology and Changshu Institute of Technology.

The city's canals, stone bridges, pagodas, and meticulously designed gardens have contributed to its status as one of the top tourist attractions and liveable cities in China. The Classical Gardens of Suzhou were added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997 and 2000. Suzhou is often dubbed the "Venice of the East" or "Venice of China".[18][19][20]