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History of Nanjing

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The ancient history of Nanjing spans 10 dynasties. It has served as the political center of the country several times, most recently as capital city of The Republic of China. It is known throughout the world because of its extensive, and occasionally tragic, history.

The city has been renamed on many occasions. It first served as a capital in 229 AD, during the Three Kingdoms Period, and was named Jiankang. It was during the Ming Dynasty that the city first adopted its present name of Nanjing. Historians reckon that this period was one of the most important in its development - it was then that Nanjing truly expanded, flourished, and needed a city wall.

During the Taiping Rebellion against the Qing dynasty government (1851-1864), Nanjing was captured by rebel forces in 1853. The Taipings renamed the city Tianjing (Heavenly Capital), and it remained their political headquarters until the Qing Dynasty army regained control of it in 1864 after a three-day battle in which a staggering number of people -reportedly 100,000 - lost their lives. After the fall of the Qing Dynasty and the establishment of the Republic of China, Nanjing was made national capital by the interim government. Its final stint as capital occurred from 1946 to 1949, under the control of KMT forces until their civil war defeat.

One of the most tragic periods in the history of Nanjing started on December 13, 1937, when Japanese invaders took the city and embarked on a six-week-long campaign of slaughter known today as the Nanjing Massacre. An estimated 300,000 lives were lost in this short period. The Nanjing Massacre Memorial and Museum today commemorates those victims, and ensures the barbaric act will never be forgotten.

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