Jinan (simplified Chinese: 济南; traditional Chinese: 濟南; pinyin: Jǐnán), alternatelyromanized as Tsinan,[lower-alpha 1] is the capital of Shandong province in Eastern China. With a population of 9.2 million (including Laiwu), it is the second-largest city in Shandong after Qingdao. The area of present-day Jinan has played an important role in the history of the region from the earliest beginnings of civilization and has evolved into a major national administrative, economic, and transportation hub. The city has held sub-provincial administrative status since 1994. Jinan is often called the “Spring City” for its famous 72 artesian springs.
Its population (including Laiwu City merged recently) was 9,202,432 as of the 2020 census. Its built-up (or metro) area made of 6 out of 10 urban districts (but Jiyang, Zhangqiu, Laiwu and Gangcheng not yet conurbated) was home to 4,335,889 inhabitants as of the 2010 census. Jinan is also one of the top 100 cities in the world for scientific research as tracked by the Nature Index according to the Nature Index 2020 Science Cities. The city is home to several major universities, including Shandong Normal University, University of Jinan, and Qilu University of Technology. Notably, Shandong University is one of China’s most prestigious universities as a member of the Project 985. The city is rated Beta- (Global second-tier city) by the biannual GAWC ratings in 2020.
The modern-day name Jinan literally means “south of the Ji” and refers to the old Ji River that had flowed to the north of the city until the middle of the 19th century. The Ji River disappeared in 1852 when the Yellow River changed its course northwards and took over its bed. The current pronunciation of the character “Ji” with the third tone (“jǐ”) was established in the late 1970s. Prior to this, it was pronounced with the fourth tone (“jì“). Older texts spell the name as “Tsinan” (Wade-Giles romanization) or “Chi-nan”.
During the times of the Zhou dynasty (1045 BC to 256 BC), the city of Lixia (simplified Chinese: 历下; traditional Chinese: 歷下; pinyin: Lìxià) was the major settlement in the area. The name “Lixia” refers to the location of Jinan at the foot of Mount Li, which lies to the south of the city). Today, Lixia is the name of one of the city’s districts.
The Battle of An, which was fought in the area during the Spring and Autumn period (in 589 BCE) between the states of Qi and Jin, is named for the ancient city of Ān (Chinese: 鞍) which stood within the city limits of present-day Jinan. Marco Polo gives a brief description of Jinan under the name “Chingli” or “Chinangli”. 19th and early 20th century texts frequently give the name of the city as “Tsinan Fu” where the additional “Fu” (Chinese: 府) comes from the dated Chinese term for a provincial capital (Chinese: 省府).