Shijiazhuang, the capital of North China's Hebei province, is on its way to national prominence thanks to its rapid development in economy, tourism and culture.
The provincial capital has one of the country's biggest industrial pharmaceutical bases and one of the most important textile centers. The industrial clusters for biological industries, semiconductor lighting and the animation industry have been designated as first national bases in China.
The city has now evolved into a road, railway and air transportation hub in North China over the past years, with six expressways, four national highways and 30 provincial highways, which together connect neighboring cities and provinces. Its airport has more than 40 flights linking domestic and overseas cities.
Though it is a young industrial city, Shijiazhuang boasts a collection of tourism resources and numerous sites of historical and cultural importance, including two national geological parks, three national key scenic spots, and 21 national AAAA scenic spots.
In addition, it boasts 25 cultural relic sites under State protection and 141 under provincial protection.
It was honored as a national excellent eco-tourist city and was named among China's best culture and tourism cities in 2011, largely due to its many tourist destinations, such as the Zhaozhou Bridge, the world's oldest existing stone arch bridge, built in the year 595 in the Sui Dynasty (581-618).
It is also home to the Xibaipo Memorial, a national base for patriotic education. Xibaipo was the site of the Communist Party of China's last headquarters in a rural area before it moved to Beijing and liberated the entire country.
Shijiazhuang also joined the ranks of the top 100 cities in the nation for comprehensive competitiveness in tourism in 2009.
In recent years, the tourism infrastructure in the city has been greatly improved, providing more comfort and convenience to tourists.
The city now has 66 rated hotels, three of which are five-star hotels, 22 four-star hotels, 217 tourist agencies, and more than 7,000 tour guides.
In addition, the city was also among the winners of "China's Top 10 Happiest Cities" in 2011, a ranking compiled by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
With profound culture and a wide range of folk art, the city's cultural industry has strong momentum, contributing 22.4 percent of the output value of the province's culture industry. A public lecture, the "Yanzhao Lecture", has been held 1,200 times to give residents knowledge in various fields. It is called the "university without walls" by locals.
The city has now established friendly relations with more than 20 overseas cities, including Nagano, Japan; Des Moines, the United States; and Saskatoon, Canada. It has also had cooperation and exchanges with 192 countries and regions in economy, trade, technology, education, culture and sports.