Located in an area previously known as Jiao'ao, the city of Qingdao enjoys a long and prosperous history stretching back thousands of years. Many historians dispute the origins of the city, but archeological findings place the existence of human activity in the area over 6000 years ago. During the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, the town of Jimo was established. Its population quickly grew until it became the second largest city in Shandong.

In 221 BC, Qin Dynasty Emperor Ying Zheng began to unify China. During unification, the Emperor climbed Langyatai Hill in what is presently known as Jiaonan City. The flourishing area then became the site that Han Dynasty Emperor Liu Che carried out his sacrificial rites. He ordered the construction of nine temples along the Jiaozhou Bay in Mt. Nugu, so that he could properly worship his ancestors. By the end of the Qing Dynasty, Qingdao had grown into a prosperous fishing village.

The city of Qingdao was officially established on June 14, 1881, when the Qing Government declared it as a defense base against naval attacks. In November 1897, Qingdao was ceded to Germany after the murder of two German missionaries. They transformed the city into a strategic port. The port served as a base for the Pacific Squadron, Germany's Imperial Navy, which allowed the Germans to conduct most of their affairs in Asia.

Most of the city planning was carried out during the German occupation. They are credited with building the first streets, institutions and the Tsingtao Brewery. During WWI, the Germans fled the area and the Japanese took over the city. After the War, the Chinese appealed for the return of the territory of Shandong to Chinese control. However, under the terms of the Versailles Treaty, the Shandong territories (including Qingdao) were made part of Japanese colonial territory, a rebuff to China that in 1919 fuelled the "May 4th Movement" – an anti-imperialist movement for social and political reform. In 1922, the city reverted to Chinese control under the Republic of China, and was established as an official port. In 1930 the city was officially renamed Qingdao. In January 1938 the Japanese invaded the city once again.  Finally, in 1945, the KMT regained control of the city and in June of 1949 Qingdao was liberated by the PLA.

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