Kunming is the capital and largest city of Yunnan Province in Southwest China. It is the political, economic, communications and cultural centre of Yunnan, and is the seat of the provincial government. It is also home to several universities, museums, galleries and other important economic, cultural, and educational institutions. The headquarters of many of Yunnan's large businesses are in Kunming as well. It was important during World War II as a Chinese military center, American air base, and transport terminus for the Burma Road. Located in the middle of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, Kunming is located at an altitude of 1,900 m above sea level and at latitude just north of the Tropic of Cancer. It covers an area of 21,473 square kilometers (8,291 sq mi) and its urban area covers 2,081 km2 (803 sq mi). Kunming has population of 6,432,212 including 3,055,000 in the urban area and is located at the northern edge of the largeLake Dian, surrounded by temples and lake-and-limestone hill landscapes.
Kunming has one of the mildest climates in China, characterized by short, cool dry winters with mild days and crisp nights, and long, warm and humid summers, but much cooler than the lowlands. The weather never gets very hot in summer; the temperature has exceeded 30 °C(86 °F) only on a handful of occasions. However, freak snowfalls occur in occasional winters. Controlled by a subtropical highland climate, average highs are around 15 °C (59 °F) in winter and 24 °C (75 °F) in summer.
Kunming long profited from its position on the caravan roads through to South-East Asia, India and Tibet. Early townships in the southern edge of Lake Dianchi (outside the contemporary city perimeter)can be dated back to 279 BC, although they have been long lost to history. Early settlements in the area around Lake Dian date back to Neolithic times. The Dian Kingdom, whose original language probably related to Tibeto-Burman languages, was also established near the area.
The Han Dynasty (205 BC-AD 220), seeking control over the Southern Silk Road running to Burma and India, brought small parts of Yunnan into China's orbit, though subsequent dynasties could do little to tame what was then a remote and wild borderland. During the Sui dynasty(581–618), two military expeditions were launched against the area, and it was renamed Kunzhou
Kunming reverted to county status in 1912,under the name Kunming, and became a municipality in 1935. The opening of the Kunming area began in earnest with the completion in 1906-1910 of the Yunnan-Vietnam Railway to Haiphong in north Vietnam (part of French Indochina).Kunming became a treaty port opening to foreign trade in 1908 and soon became a commercial center. Kunming was transformed into a modern city as a result of the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 when the invading Japanese forces caused a great number of east-coast Chinese refugees, some of whom were wealthy, to flood into the southwest of China. They brought with them dismantled industrial plants, which were then re-erected beyond the range of Japanese bombers. In addition, a number of universities and institutes of higher education were evacuated there. The increased money and expertise quickly established Kunming as an industrial town. The American Volunteer Group, known as the "Flying Tigers", used Kunming as a base in 1941and 1942 to fly in supplies over the Himalayas from British bases in India in defiance of Japanese assaults.
After 1949 Kunming developed rapidly intoan industrial metropolis with the construction of large iron and steel and chemical complexes, along with Chongqing, Chengdu and Guiyang in the southwest.
It is also known as Kunming Lake, Kunming Pond, and Southern Lake of Yunnan in ancient times. Located at an altitudeof1,886 meters above sea level, the lake is a Plateau lake with beautiful scenery, 40 km long and 8 km wide. The lake water and the sky merging mutually like a city sea, dense mist and rolling water are on the surface of the lake, and the sails are strolling above the water. It is the largest lake in Kunming, claimed to be a pearl on the Yungui Plateau. The west side of the lake is the mountain forest, while on the east side the farm dotted with the fisheries and agribusinesses. Traditional fishing boats still sail on the lake. The most beautiful view appears at dawn and sunset. The ocean-like lake is the best place to go for those people who wish to get away from the bustling city and be close to the nature.
About 2 hours by bus from Kunming, Stone Forest (Shilin, in Chinese) is a UNESCO listed site of remarkable Karst geography. It covers an area of 400 square kilometers (96,000 acres) and includes both large and small stone forests, as well as many other scenic spots. An old local saying says that 'If you have visited Kunming without seeing the Stone Forest, you have wasted your time.' As one of the most important attractions of Yunnan, the Stone Forest is a must see for travelers. When you stroll in the amazing the Stone Forest as same as walking in a labyrinthine, you will marvel at the natural stone masterpieces and are impressed by the elegant formations. The Stone Forest consists of three parts: Major Stone Forest, Minor Stone Forest and Naigu Stone Forest. The natural climate made the magnificent, strange and astonish landscape in the past millions years. Nowadays there are countless various formations including animals, plants, and even human figures can be found here. You can enjoy both the pleasure of exploring the wonderful scenery and the costumes of local minorities in the region.