Kunming (kōnˈmĭngˈ) [key], city (1994 est. pop. 1,240,000), capital of Yunnan prov., S China, on the northern shore of Dian Chi Lake. It is a major administrative, commercial, and cultural center of S China and leading transportation hub (air, road, rail), with rail connections to Vietnam. It is China's largest producer of copper. Coal is mined, and the city has an iron and steel complex. Other manufactures include phosphorus, chemicals, machinery, textiles, paper, and cement. Kunming has long been noted for its scenic beauty and equable climate. It consists of an old walled city, a modern commercial suburb, and a residential and university section. Although it was often the seat of kings in ancient times, Kunming's modern prosperity dates only from 1910, when the railroad from Hanoi was built. In World War II, Kunming was important as the Chinese terminus of the Burma Road. The city has an astronomical observatory, and its institutions of higher learning include Yunnan Univ. and a medical college. On the outskirts is a famed bronze temple, dating from the Ming dynasty. Kunming was formerly called Yunnanfu.
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