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 Lanzhou Facts

Lanzhou Facts

Written by Ruru ZhouUpdated Nov. 29, 2023

Name: Lanzhou (兰州; Lánzhōu /lan-zhow/)
Meaning: 'Orchid Prefecture'
Previous names: Jincheng (Gold City), Yunwu, Lanzhuan


  • Old Silk Road city
  • Important transportation station to Lhasa, Tibet
  • The Yellow River flows through the city
  • Now it is the administrative center of a major industrial region.

Main Attractions


The city was once a Silk Road route crossing point on the Yellow River. A bridge built on boats once spanned it. Now it is an inland industrial center and a transportation hub for trains and expressways.

  • 763 The city was captured by the Tibetan Empire.
  • 843 The city was captured by the Tang Empire
  • 1235 The Mongol Empire captured it.
  • 1860s and 1870s The city experienced war during the Dugan Revolt.
  • 1930s and 1940s The city was successfully defended, and the Japanese army didn't capture it.


  • Significance of the city: The city is at one end of a broad lowland that stretches to Xinjiang that is called the Gansu Corridor. The city developed at the place where the Gansu Corridor meets the Yellow River. It was a natural crossing point for Silk Road travellers and traders and became a mercantile city. Now, it is a large municipality in terms of land area.
  • Nearby cities: Gannan (144 km/89 mi), Xi'an (656 km/400 mi), Xining (181 km/112 mi), Yinchuan (440 km/270 mi)
  • Municipality terrain: The city straddles the Yellow River and sits in a long valley.
  • Average altitude: 1,600 meters (5,250 feet)
  • Main rivers: Yellow River

Location Information

  • Municipality location: northern China
  • Municipality population: 3,616,000
  • Municipality area: 13,300 sq km (5,135 sq mi)
  • Municipality population density: 150/sq km (388/sq mi)
  • Urban area: 1,088 sq km (420 sq mi)
  • Urban population: 2,177,000
  • Urban population density: 2,000/sq km (5,182/sq mi)
  • North to south distance of main urban area: 3.3 km (5.4 mi)
  • East to west distance of main urban area: 23.3 km (14.5 mi)
  • City Center: Lanzhou West Railway Station (36.07N, 103.8E)


  • Average annual high temperature in July: 29 °C (84 °F)
  • Average annual low temperature in January: -10 °C (14 °F)
  • Semi-arid, high-altitude, temperate climate; precipitation: 315 mm (12.4 in)

Known for smog, Yellow River pollution, and dust storms.


  • Average annual income: (2008) 26,566 RMB (3,363 USD)
  • Development: developing the city is an industrial center in a mineral and energy-rich region.
  • Industry: 48.8% tertiary industry (services), 48.1% secondary (petrochemicals, electronics, industry), 3.1% primary (agriculture)
  • Shopping Streets: Hezheng Lu Street Market


  • Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport is 75 km from the city center.
  • 4 regular rail lines
  • 1 bullet train line is under construction.
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