Kunming owned a long history. As early as 30,000 years ago, ancient tribes inhabited the area around Dian Lake. During the Warring States Period (286 BC)Zhuangqiao, the General of the Chu State (in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River) led his followers to the area around Dian Lake and established the Dian Kingdom. This slavery country had a very advanced culture and technology, which had greatly promoted the development of local agriculture and exquisite bronze manufacturing. In 1956, archaeologists discovered a large number of funerary items in the tombs of Shizhai Mountain on the east bank of Dianchi Lake, including silver, jade, and turquoise jewelry, shells, statuettes, and large bronze drums, which displayed the splendor of the Dian Kingdom.
In 109 BC, during the reign of Emperor Wudi, the Dian Kingdom became part of the Han Dynasty. It was then an important traffic center, connecting China’s hinterland with the southern branch of the ancient Silk Road to Myanmar and India. Via Yunnan, it also connected present-day Sichuan to Vietnam.
From the 8th century, Kunming was named Tuodong city in the Kingdom of Nanzhao and Dali. In 1253, it came under the control of the Yuan Dynasty (established by Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan).
It became the provincial capital of Yunnan in 1274, and the Muslim Sayyid Ajall was the governor.
In the 14th century, under the Ming Dynasty, the sinicization of Yunnan accelerated. Waves of immigrants, most from the Lower Yangtze region, followed Ming armies to Kunming. They re-designed and built Kunming City, laying the foundation for today’s Kunming layout.
During the same period, Zheng He, who was a Chinese Muslim eunuch from Kunming, was appointed by Ming Emperor to command the huge naval fleet to finish 7 times diplomatic missions and created a new Maritime Silk Road. Zheng He is widely regarded as the greatest explorer and navigator in China and also a forerunner of Columbus and The Magellan.
The opening of Kunming began with the completion in 19 centuries of the railway to the Vietnamese city of Haiphong, and sooner Kunming became a treaty port of foreign trade and an important commercial center.
Kunming’s transformation into a modern city resulted from the outbreak of the Anti-Japanese War in 1937. In the face of the encroaching of Japanese forces, large numbers of factories, banks, universities, and institutes of higher education were moved to Kunming and brought new material and cultural construction. After the Japanese occupied Vietnam in 1940, the links of Kunming with the Western countries, both via the newly constructed Burma Road and by air (the famous Hump route and Flying Tigers), grew increasingly vital.
From 1949 to nowadays, Kunming developed rapidly in every aspect and formed five pillar industries such as cigarettes, mechanical and electrical, biological resources, information, commerce, and tourism formed. As the regional metropolis facing Southeast Asia and South Asia, Kunming plays a very important role in international cooperation.