Travel guide to Wuxi, China

Wuxi is a city dominated by waterways — the ring of canals that surround the city, including the main branch of the Grand Canal, and the waters of Lake Taihu, China’s fourth largest lake that extends to the south of the city. In addition to its scenic attractions and role in a regional transport system, the water system supports a flourishing rice agriculture and fisheries. Wuxi was also known in imperial and modern times for its silk textile production, and the nearby town of Yixing is renowned for its “purple-sand” tea-ware pottery. (Info for you China vacations)

Wuxi was already settled in the Zhou period (11th-3rd c. BC), as the capital of the Wu kingdom, when it was known as Youxi, “a place having tin.” The current name, meaning “without tin” came into use by the early Han dynasty (2nd-1st c. BC), suggesting the tin deposits used in bronze metallurgy were already played out by that time. The building in the 7th century of the Imperial Grand Canal that passed through the town spurred a revival of its fortunes as a transport center for agricultural products from the surrounding countryside. Silk weaving was another major local industry, and Shanghai industrialists modernized production in the 1930’s. Recent overseas investment has led to a boom in manufacturing. Nearby Lake Tai is the site for a couple of instant tourist attractions: the Tang City and Three Kingdoms outdoor film sets for historical dramas, and a park which holds the world’s tallest Buddha statue (87 m).