Kunming is the capital of and largest city in Yunnan Province, Southwest China. Known as Yunnan-Fu until the 1920s, today it is a prefecture-level city and the political, economic, communications and cultural centre of the province as well as the seat of the provincial government. Kunming is also called the Spring city due to its weather. The headquarters of many of Yunnan's large businesses are in Kunming. It was important during World War II as a Chinese military center, American air base, and transport terminus for the Burma Road. Located in the middle of the Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau, Kunming is located at an altitude of 1,900 metres (6,234 feet) above sea level and at a latitude just north of the Tropic of Cancer. Kunming has as of 2014 a population of 6,626,000 with an urban population of 4,575,000, and is located at the northern edge of the large Lake Dian, surrounded by temples and lake-and-limestone hill landscapes.
Kunming consists of an old, previously walled city, a modern commercial district, residential and university areas. The city has an astronomical observatory, and its institutions of higher learning include Yunnan University, Yunnan Normal University and a medical college. On the outskirts is a famed bronze temple, dating from the Ming dynasty.
Its economic importance derives from its geographical position. Positioned near the border with Southeastern Asian countries, serving as a transportation hub in Southwest China, linking by rail to Vietnam and by road to Burma and Laos. This positioning also makes it an important trade center in this region of the nation. It also houses some manufacturing, chiefly copper, though some other chemicals, machinery, textiles, paper and cement take key. Though having a nearly 2,400 year history, its modern prosperity dates only from 1910, when the railway from Hanoi was built. The city has continued to develop rapidly under China's modernization efforts. Kunming's streets have widened while office buildings and housing projects develop at a fast pace. Kunming has been designated a special tourism center and as such sports a proliferation of high-rises and luxury hotels.
Because of the establishment of National Southwestern Associated University(国立西南联合大学), Kunming was usually regarded as the bulwark of modern China democracy during The Second Sino-Japanese War.