The "Mountain City" of Chongqing clings to steep cliffs at the confluence of the Yangtze and a major tributary, the Jialing River. This bustling city rises high above docks held in the rushing currents by cables lashed to anchor holes cut into the rocky shore. Cable cars glide across to opposite banks and giant bridges carry creeping waves of trucks loaded with the city's varied industrial output. Caves perforate the steep hills, once built as bomb shelters and now busy as garages or naturally cool restaurants and hair salons.
For centuries the main commercial and transportation centre for Sichuan Province, Chongqing is now under rapid transformation due to the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. The city was granted national status in l996 as a municipal region similar to Bejing, Shanghai and Tianjin with an administrative region that includes the eastern Sichuan counties downriver for a total population of some 30 million people. Chongqing is now proud to be the world's largest metropolitan region.