City (pop., 2003 est.: 1,576,400), capital of Gansu province, north-central China. Situated on the upper Huang He (Yellow River), it became part of the territory of Qin in the 6th century BC and later developed as a major trade centre on the Silk Road. It became the seat of Lanzhou prefecture under the Sui dynasty (581–618 AD) and the capital of Gansu province in 1666. It was badly damaged during the Muslim uprisings in 1864–75. A centre of Soviet influence in northwestern China in the early 20th century, it was the terminus of the 2,000-mi (3,200-km) Chinese-Soviet highway that was used during the Sino-Japanese War (1937–45) for the transport of Soviet supplies. Lanzhou developed as an industrial and cultural centre after World War II. It is the seat of Lanzhou University.
Learn more about Lanzhou with a free trial on Britannica.com.
In 81 BC, under the Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), it became the seat of Jincheng county (Xian) and later of Jincheng commandery (jun), the county being renamed Yunwu. The city used to be called the Golden City, and since at least the first millennium BC it was a major link on the ancient Northern Silk Road, and also an important historic Yellow River crossing site. To protect the city, the Great Wall of China was extended as far as Yumen.
After the fall of the Han Dynasty, Lanzhou became the capital of a succession of tribal states. Mixed with different cultural heritages, the area at present-day Gansu province, from the 5th to the 11th century, became a center for Buddhist study. In the 4th century it was briefly the capital of the independent state of Earlier Liang. The Northern Wei dynasty (386–534) reestablished Jincheng commandery, renaming the county Zicheng. Under the Sui Dynasty (581–618) the city became the seat of Lanzhou prefecture for the first time, retaining this name under the Tang Dynasty (618–907). In 763 the area was overrun by the Tibetans and was then recovered by the Tang in 843. Later it fell into the hands of the Western Xia Dynasty (which flourished in Qinghai from the 11th to 13th century) and was subsequently recovered by the Song Dynasty (960–1126) in 1041. The name Lanzhou was reestablished, and the county renamed Lanzhuan.
The city acquired its current name in 1656, during the Qing Dynasty. When Gansu became a separate province in 1666, Lanzhou became its capital.
In 1739 the seat of Lintao was transferred to Lanzhou, which was later made a superior prefecture called Lanzhou.
Lanzhou was badly damaged during the rising of the Gansu Muslims in 1864–1875. In the 1920s and 1930s it became a center of Soviet influence in northwestern China. During the Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) Lanzhou, linked with Xi'an by highway in 1935, became the terminus of the 3,200 km (2,000 mile) Chinese-Soviet highway, used as a route for Soviet supplies destined for the Xi'an area. This highway remained the primary traffic route of northwestern China until the completion of the railway from Lanzhou to Urumqi, Xinjiang. During the war Lanzhou was heavily bombed by the Japanese.
Lanzhou is situated on the upper course of the Yellow River, where the river emerges from the mountains. It has been a center since early times, being at the southern end of the route leading via the Hexi Corridor across Central Asia. It also commands the approaches to the ancient capital area of Chang'an (modern Xi'an) in Shaanxi province from both the west and the northwest, as well as from the area of Qinghai Lake via the upper waters of the Yellow River and its tributaries.
In regard to air pollution Lanzhou has some of the worst air quality of all cities in China. According to the Blacksmith Institute, Lanzhou is one of the 30 most polluted cities in the world. The air quality is so poor that at times one can not see Lanshan, the mountain rising straight up along the south side of the city. The city is located in a narrow river valley with an unfortunate curve causing it to be hemmed in with no free air flow. Lanzhou is also the home of many factories, including some involved in petroleum processing, and suffers from large dust storms kicked up from the Gobi Desert, especially in the winter and spring.
The reach of the Yellow River at Lanzhou carries a high load of silt, giving the river its characteristic muddy appearance; however water quality in this reach is better than the "fetid outflow that barely passes for water two hours downstream".
There is a thermal generating plant supplied with coal from fields in Qinghai. In addition, there is a hydroelectric station at Zhulama Gorge in Gansu, and a large multipurpose dam has been built in the Liujia Gorge on the Yellow River above Lanzhou.
Gansu has one of the largest oil refineries in the country and Lanzhou itself is the center of the province's petrochemical industry. Lanzhou has a large refinery linked to the fields at Yumen by pipeline. It also manufactures equipment for the oil industry.
Lanzhou has a large textile industry, particularly noted for the production of woolens and leather goods. In addition, Lanzhou produces locomotives and rolling stock for the northwestern railways, as well as machine tools and mining equipment. Aluminum products, industrial chemicals, and fertilizers are produced on a large scale, and there is a large rubber industry. Copper is mined in nearby Gaolan.
Lanzhou has been one of the centers of China's national atomic energy industry since the 1960s.
Lanzhou is a regional rail, highway, and air hub in NW China and the junction point to Xinjiang. The Longhai Railway (Lianyungang-Lanzhou) line was extended westward to Lanzhou from Tianshui by 1953. Later Lanzhou was linked with Beijing via Baotou in Inner Mongolia, and lines have also been constructed northwest to Urumqi and westward via Haiyan on Qinghai Lake to Golmud (in Qinghai).
The city is the seat of Lanzhou University, founded in 1909. The National Minorities Institute at Lanzhou and a number of scientific institutes are also located there.In particular, Northwest Normal University has been the key university at the provincial level, which has prepared over 100,000 teachers in schools across the province Gansu.
CNPC Lanzhou Petrochemical established.(Lanzhou Refining and Chemical Co., Ltd. and Lanzhou Chemical Industrial Co., Ltd. merge into CNPC Lanzhou Petrochemical Co., Ltd.)(Brief Article)
Jun 06, 2005; Lanzhou Refining and Chemical Co., Ltd. and Lanzhou Chemical Industrial Co., Ltd. have merged themselves into CNPC...
Hilton Worldwide Signs Agreement to Expand Presence in Northwest China with New Hilton Hotels & Resorts Property in Lanzhou
Sep 01, 2013; By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Leisure & Travel Business -- Hilton Worldwide( httpwww.hiltonworldwide.com ) announced...