Hangchow, Or Hangchow-Foo a city of China, capital of the province of Chekiang, 2 m. from the Tsientang and about 40 m. from its mouth, 110 m. S. W. of Shanghai. It is situated on a plain at the S. terminus of the imperial canal, giving it water communication with Peking and a large internal trade, while the river, 4 m. broad opposite the city, affords communication with the southern parts of the empire. Until recently it was one of the largest and richest cities of China, with an estimated population of 700,000, of whom more than 60,000 were employed in silk manufactures. Till 1801 it was the great resort for literary and religious men, and colleges and temples were numerous. But a small portion of the people, including a garrison of 7,000 troops, reside within the walls, the rest living in the suburbs, which are extensive and beautiful, and in boats, with which the adjacent waters are thronged. The streets, though narrow, are well paved and clean; arches and public monuments abound, and the shops once vied with those of European capitals in the display of gold and silver ornaments, and silks and embroideries, for which the city was particularly famous; while the residence of the court and the immense trade passing through it increased its wealth and importance.' During the latter part of the Sung dynasty (900-1279) it was the metropolis of the country.
Marco Polo describes it at the end of the 13th century as "preeminent above all cities in the world in point of grandeur and beauty." Until it was captured by the rebels, Dec. 28, 1861, it was the residence of the governor and general of Chekiang and Fokien, and of the governor of the province. The rebels held it three years, during which they plundered and impoverished the place and drove out a great number of the inhabitants. The imperialists recovered it, March 31, 1864, and since then many of the inhabitants have returned, and the city is recovering something of its former prosperity.