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Chengdu, alternatively romanized as Chengtu, is a sub-provincial city that serves as the capital of Sichuan Province. It is one of the three most populous cities in Western China, the other two being Chongqing and Xi’an. As of 2014, the administrative area housed 14,427,500 inhabitants, the largest in Sichuan, with an urban population of 10,152,632.
Chengdu is located in central Sichuan. The surrounding Chengdu Plain is known as the “Country of Heaven” and the “Land of Abundance.” Its prehistoric settlers included the Sanxingdui culture. The site of Dujiangyan, an ancient irrigation system, is designated as a World Heritage Site. The Jin River flows through the city.
It is now one of the most important economic, financial, commercial, cultural, transportation, and communication centers in Western China. Its economy is diverse, characterized by the machinery, automobile, medicine, food, and information technology industries. Shuangliu International Airport, a hub of Air China and Sichuan Airlines, is one of the 30 busiest airports globally, and the railway station is one of the six biggest in China. Chengdu also hosts many international companies and more than 12 consulates; more than 270 Fortune 500 companies have established branches here.
Chengdu’s culture largely reflects that of its province, Sichuan; in 2011, it was recognized by UNESCO as a city of gastronomy. It is associated with the giant panda, a Chinese national symbol, which inhabits the area of Sichuan; the city is home to the Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.