Jiangsu consists largely of the alluvial plain of the Chang River and includes much of its delta; in elevation it rarely rises above sea level, although there are hills in the southwest. The fairly warm climate, moderate rainfall, and fertile soil make Jiangsu one of the richest agricultural regions of China and one of the most densely populated. The province straddles two agricultural zones, with wheat, millet, kaoliang, corn, soybeans, and peanuts cultivated in the north and rice, tea, sugarcane, and barley raised in the south. Cotton is grown along the coast (north and south) in the saline soil, which is not suited for other crops. Tea is planted in the western hills, and some experimenting with oak trees for silk culture has been initiated.
Intensive land reclamation has been accomplished, with extensive dikes and the use of the raised-field system. Fish are abundant in the many lakes (of which Tai is the most famous), in the streams and canals, and off the Chang River (Yangtze) delta; Jiangsu, which is known to the Chinese as "the land of rice and fish," is rich in marine products. It is also a major salt-producing area. Jiangsu is bisected by the Chang, which can be navigated by steamers up to 15,000 tons, and by a portion of the Grand Canal. Its first-class roads and extensive railroad system, including the busiest railway in China, the Shanghai-Nanjing line, make for excellent communications. Perhaps the most prosperous province in China, Jiangsu is deficient only in timber and minerals.
A major part of China's foreign trade clears through the port of Shanghai into Jiangsu. Shanghai, one of the world's great seaports and the chief manufacturing center of China, is in Jiangsu province but is an independent municipality administered directly by the central government. Nanjing has been developed into an industrial center, producing petrochemicals, motor vehicles, machinery, and construction materials. Suzhou, Wuxi, and Zhenjiang are known for their silk. Textile, food-processing, cement, and fertilizer industries are found throughout the province.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.