As one of the most renowned and prosperous cities of China for much of the last 1,000 years, Hangzhou is also well-known for its beautiful natural scenery, with the West Lake as the most well-known location. One of the seven capitals of ancient China, Hangzhou is an ancient cultural city and a well-known tourist city.
It is most famous for the beautiful scenery of the West Lake. With an area of 6,047 square miles inhabited by a population of 5.2 million, it embraces six urban districts and seven suburban counties, namely Yuhang, Xiaoshan, Fuyang, Tonglu, Lin'an, Jiande and Chun'an. The Fuchun and Xin'an rivers and Thousand Island Lake are national scenic areas. In the 13th century, Marco Polo praised Hangzhou as the most beautiful city in the world. Hangzhou is also famous for its silk and tea products.
Hangzhou was chosen as the new capital of the Southern Song Dynasty when they regrouped after their defeat at the hands of the Jin in 1123. It remained the capital from the early 12th century until the Mongol invasion of 1276, and was known as Lin'an .
It served as the seat of the imperial government, a center of trade and entertainment, and the nexus of the main branches of the civil service. During that time, the city was a sort of gravitational center of Chinese civilization: what used to be considered "central China" in the north was taken by the Jin, an ethnic minority dynasty ruled by Jurchens.