Notes on the Geography of China: Tourist Suzhou: Photo 1
Suzhou is supposed to have been founded in 514 B.C. as the capital of the state of Wu, but it only became a city of national importance in the 10th century, when a rice/wheat cropping system emerged here and made the Yangtze Delta the most densely populated part of China. All the region's arable land was in cultivation by 1200, and by 1400 the land was being irrigated with 20th-century intensity. By the 16th century the Grand Canal was sending grain north to Beijing.(For more on this, see "Sustainable Traditional Agriculture in the Tai Lake Region of China," by E.C. Ellis and S.M. Wang, in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 1997, p. 61).
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