Located in the centre of Shandong, Zibo is an important transportation hub. Zibo governs 5 districts (Zhangdian, Zichuan, Boshan, Zhoucun and Linzi) and each of these districts has a distinct downtown area of its own. The T-shaped city has a total area of 5,938 km2 (2,293 sq mi), including the counties of Huantai, Gaoqing, and Yiyuan. Zibo's total population is 4.53 million according to the 2010 census, of which 3,633,239 inhabitants live in the metropolitan area comprising the 5 urban districts plus Huantai county (currently still under construction) which will serve to expand the metro-area to Zouping County situated in the municipality of Binzhou. Zibo was the centre of the ancient State of Qi, whose capital Linzi was the most populous city in the east about 3000 years ago. Zibo is the birthplace of ancient football Cuju, which according to FIFA, was the earliest form of the sport. Pu Songling, a well-known writer of the Qing Dynasty, is one of the most famous people from Zibo. As the birthplace of Qi culture along with its abundance in natural resources, Zibo is a notable tourist city in China.
Manufacturing holds an important place of the city's economy, in particular ceramics manufacturing. Other key industries include the petrochemical industry, pharmaceuticals, metallurgy, construction materials, machinery and textile. High and new-technology industries, such as new materials, fine chemicals, electronics and information, and biological medicines are also developing rapidly.
According to the 2007-08 Global City Competitiveness Report released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Zibo was among the top 20 cities in the world that experienced the fastest economic growth between 2001 and 2005. According to the Oriental Outlook MagazineIssue No.1, 2009, Zibo ranks No. 1 on the list of cities that have reasonable real estate prices in China, also ranking No. 2 on the list of cities with good public security. In 2009, the city received the award of "Best 10 Harmonious Cities that enjoy Sustainable Development in China".
Zibo is considered as one of the birthplaces of the Han Chinese. The remains of three major Neolithic cultures in ancient China, Beixin culture, Dawenkou culture, and Longshan culture have been found in Zibo. Zibo was once the capital of the ancient State of Qi, the most prosperous state during the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States Periods over 2,000 years ago in China. Duke Huan of Qi, ruler of Qi, appointed Guan Zhong, the famous thinker and economist, as his prime minister, and adopted Guan's thoughts and policies to administer his country, reform the economic system and develop relations with other states, After many years, Qi became the strongest state due to its economic and military strength, and was named as the "state with one thousand chariots" and the "head of the five strongest states". The culture and education undertakings were rather developed in Qi. Both poetry and music were at a high level. Linzi remained its capital for as long as 638 years, and was the biggest city in East Asia.
As the birthplace of the Qi Culture, Zibo has many cultural scenic spots. In the national city of history and culture, the Linzi District, the ruins of the ancient Qi city, the pit for burying the funerary horses and chariots and other famous cultural relics and historic sites, have been discovered and unearthed. All of them exemplify the past prosperity of the Qi State. The ancient city of Qi was one of the first places that was assigned to be a "cultural relics site" in China so it has been protected from demolition ever since. As such, it is rich in cultural relics and historical sites and is referred to as the "Underground Museum".
Zibo made significant contributions to the formation and prosperity of the Silk Road. Zibo was one of the biggest suppliers of silk products. Zhoucun, one of the townships in Zibo, was considered one of the four 'dry ports' during that period alongside Foshan, Jingdezhen, and Zhuxian. The major trade streets such as 'Dajie', 'Sishijie', 'Yinzijie' are well preserved to this date.
In 2004, FIFA President Sepp Blatter visited Zibo to celebrate FIFA's 100th year anniversary. FIFA has since then recognized the city as the birthplace of football.
The prefecture-level city of Zibo administers 8 county-level divisions, including 5 districts and 3 counties.
Zibo is located near the center of Shandong Province, neighboring Mt. Tai in the south and backing the Yellow River in the north. Toward the east are the coastal cities of Qingdao, Yantai, and Weihai. The capital of Shandong, Jinan is to its west. Zibo is located in the transition zone between mountainous area in central Shandong and the North China Plain. Its southern area is covered with mid-sized mountains, while the center is hilly. The city's northern territory descends into plains. The ratio among mountains, hills and plains are 42%, 29.9% and 28.1%, respectively. With the Yihe River originating itself in the southern mountain area, and Yellow River flowing across the northern area, the city has comparatively abundant water resources. The workable reserve of ground water is 1.24 tons/day.
Zibo is located in a warm, temperate zone, and bears a semi-humid and semi-dry continental climate. Like other major cities in North China, Zibo has four distinct seasons. January and July are, respectively, the coldest and hottest months during the year. Zibo enjoys 180 to 220 frost-free days and the average annual Hours of Sunshine is 2542.6 to 2832.6. The annual average precipitation of Zibo is 25.2 inches (640.5 mm).
As of 2006, 4,181,260 people lived in Zibo, of which 2,102,819 were male and 2,078,441 were female. The sex male to female ratio was 101.17, death rate was 5.92%, and birth rate was 8.81%. The natural growth rate of the population that year was 2.90%. The area had a population density of 704.15 per square kilometer.
The fourth nationwide census showed that over 99 percent of the total population are Han Chinese. In addition, there are 44 minority nationalities, including Hui, Manchus, Mongols and Koreans. Mongols and Manchus are the only two minority groups that have more than 1,000 people. The town of Jinling Hui, which is located at the junction of Zhangdian and Linzi, in one of only four towns named by an ethnic minority in Shandong Province.
In 2008, the per capital disposable income of urban residents was 17,629 yuan, up by 11.2% from the year before; the per capital disposable income of rural residents was 7,364 yuan, up by 13.9%. The Engel's coefficients, which reflect the consumption structure and level of China's urban and rural residents, were 32.1% and 35.6%, respectively.
The Zibo dialect has classical features of Northern Chinese but also has specific characteristics of its own. In Zibo dialect, points of articulation of low vowel is particularly deep in the mouth, and most areas do not have a retroflex consonant except in parts of Linzi District. The Zibo dialect does not have many features that distinguish it from mandarin when it comes to sentence composition, while subtle differences may by found when people ask questions and their expressions to probability of actions. The Zibo dialect may be divided into three major sections according to the administrative districts: Huantai-Zhangdian-Zhoucun, being areas on the transport corridor between Jinan and Weifeng, have a mild mandarin accent closely resembling somewhere between Beijing, Jinan, Qingdao and Zichuan accents. Boshan has its own accent which is derived from the traditional center of the Zibo prefecture. Lastly, the Zichuan district has its own distinct accent with many colloquialisms.
Traditional Zibo cuisine is part of Shandong Cuisine although Zibo cuisine is, in fact, not a real branch of the Lu Cuisine (Shandong cuisine), whilst Boshan Cuisine is. Boshan cuisine restaurants can only be found in Zibo, and nearby places. Featured local snacks, including Zhou Cun Pancake, Shi Ha Ma Dumpling, Vegetable Pancake, Sauced Mutton, pork feet stew with kelp lotus root and Chinese cabbage, pork intestine hotpot with fried beancurd, and Bean-curd Case (fried bean-curd stuffed with vegetables and meat), enjoy a good reputation among residents and tourists. Zibo is also home to diverse restaurants of other Chinese cuisine branches just like many other cities in the PRC. Western restaurants are also emerging here and there in all districts of this city to cater for a growing diversity of needs from the people.
The "Five-Voiced Drama" is a unique kind of local drama that originated in central Shandong and was once populous among the folks here. This form of art got its name because the show is often performed by 4-5 people, and the performance is featured by gorgeous singing tunes and vivid lyrics. The straight performance and the local style also help it to be distinguished from other Chinese dramas. The plays that are acknowledged to many people include Wang Xiao Gan Jiao (Salesboy), Wang Erjie Si Fu (Lonely lady) and so on. Zibo Five-voiced Drama Troupe is the only theatrical troupe all around the country that professionally perform this drama. By far, Five-Voiced Drama has been listed as a "National Intangible Cultural Heritage".
Boshan colored glaze is the wonderful work in Shandong Province. The history of production of colored glaze in Bo Shan is very long and better known. In the years of Hong Wu of Ming Dynasty, the emperor’s servants set up "Out Factory" to produce colored glaze for imperial family’s use such as "blue and green curtain". By the end of Ming Dynasty, the folk colored glaze was produced and developed day by day, too. In the year of Jingtai there were four big stoves in Xi Yejie Street to produce enamel material. Before and after the period of Jiajing, the colored glaze products such as pearl light, pearl rejecting, bed-curtain and mosquito net hook and so on were made by the master of Bo Shan and gradually form the colored glaze trade. In 1617(the 46th year of Wan Li), some people led by Sun Yanshou initiated to organize the guild of colored glaze which is the first organization in Yanshan Town. The colored glaze products returned the transportation and sale to Beijing and the southern parts of China besides selling in locality.National Hygienic City (2006)--- National Patriotic (Public) Health Campaign Commission of P.R. China
National Garden City (2005)---Ministry of Construction of P.R. China
Best Tourism City in China (2001)---National Tourism Administration of P.R. China
Historical and Cultural City (1994)---State Council of P.R. China
Zibo enjoys abundant historical and cultural sites of interest. The Linzi Museum of Ancient Chariots, the Museum of the History of the State of Qi, the Zibo City Museum, the Zibo Museum of Ceramics, the Zhoucun Ancient Commericial Town, and the Thousand Buddha Temple in Zhoucun are the most recommendable places for tourists who want to learn about Zibo's long history and about the Qi Culture. Yuanshan National Forest Park, situated southwest of Baoshan District in Zibo, is a spot worth visiting. It consists of the Great Wall of the Qi State, the grass skiing field, Dinosaur Valley and a folk garden. The Great Wall of Qi was built by the Qi State during the Spring-and-Autumn and Warring States Periods over 2,500 years ago.
The Silk Road, prosperous throughout the Han and Tang Dynasties, is the famous passageway in China's history for economic and cultural exchange between East and West. The Shandong area, with Zibo as its center, was the major center of silk supply at that time, and was one of the origins of the "Silk Road", Today, Zibo, as a producer of silk and light textile products, remains an important place in the whole country and enjoys a great reputation on the market both at home and abroad..
Zibo abounds in natural resources. More than 50 kinds of mineral reserves have been found and coal, iron, bauxite, coal clay, chemical limestone, pottery clay, etc. are the main place of origin in Shandong Province because of their big reserves, high grade, and broad distribution. Zibo’s north part is abundant in petroleum and natural gas. The city was initially established as a mining city, but now it is undergoing technological upgrading and industrial transformation for further development. Before 2002, on account of high proportion of heavy industry and carelessness about industrial pollution, the city paid a high price in both its environment and economy. Afterwards, people of this city made up their minds to improve the environment. Small coal mines and chemical factories were closed, while all big plants were asked to install sewage disposal to get control of gas and dust. Nowadays Zibo has the first three municipal sewage treatment plants that with the treated water reaches the Grade-A1 standard of "Integrated wastewater discharge standard"GB8978—1996. Air here is also widely acknowledged to be much better now.
In 2008, the total industrial output value of Zibo reached 532 billion RMB. After one hundred years of development, Zibo has a solid industrial foundation. Since 1992, Zibo has always been one of the top 50 cities in China with the greatest comprehensive strength. In 2008, its GDP was 231.7 billion yuan RMB, ranking just below Qingdao, Yantai, Jinan and Weifang within the province. The ratio of the agriculture, industry and service sectors was 3.5%, 64.8%, 31.7%, which indicate the city still has a lot to do in readjusting its industrial structure.
As an important traffic hub of Shandong province, Zibo enjoys convenient transportation. The Jiaoji Railway, Zhangbo Railway, Zidong Railway and Xintai Railway form a cross in Zibo while the Jiqing Expressway and Binlai Expressway form another cross. The center of Zibo is only 70 km (43 mi) away from the Jinan International Airport, 210 km (130 mi) away from the Qingdao International Airport and 260 km (160 mi) away from the Qingdao Seaport. Every district and county has expressway connections. At the National Trade Building located in Liuquan Road of Zhangdian, airport shuttle bus service is offered and even you can get your boarding pass exchanged with a ticket.
37 railway stations in large and small sizes are in service nowadays. Zibo Railway Station, lying on the Jiaozhou–Jinan and Zibo–Dongying Railways, is among the busiest railway stations in Shandong province. As of 1 July 2009, Zibo Railway Station has 103 trains stopping daily. If you catch a multiple unit train at Zibo Railway Station, it will only take you 1 hour to Jinan, 2 hours to Qingdao and 4 hours to Beijing.Jiqing Expressway runs west from Jinan through Zibo to Qingdao.
Binlai Expressway begins from Binzhou. It intersects Jiqing Expressway northwest of downtown Zhangdian and runs south to Laiwu.
National Highway 309 starts at Rongcheng within Shandong and ends in Lanzhou, Gansu Province, routing though 6 provinces. It has a total length of 2,208 kilometers.
National Highway 205 starts at Shanhaiguan, Hebei province and has a terminal at Guangzhou, which has a length of 3160 kilometers. It passes by 8 provinces.
Mass transit in the region is provided by bus services. More than 2,500 large and medium-sized diesel buses, CNG buses are serving over than 250 routes. With a "Qikatong" card traveling by bus in the downtown area, passengers could get a discount of 10% to 40%. Now Zibo is undergoing restructuring of its public transit system, aiming at intensive management of higher efficiency and more professional service. Full-electric busese and taxis are now incorporated into daily operations.
Zibo is a national "advanced city invigorating itself through science and technology", "cultural model city" and "technology-intensive area". Within the city's boundaries, 443,000 (data of 2008) students from Grade 1 to Grade 9 are taught in 379 primary schools and 169 middle schools respectively under the compulsory education system, which belongs to a bigger education system of the nation. School districts are divided according to both neighborhoods and administrative districts. The number of high schools is 42.
There are 14 institutions of higher education, among them only the Shandong University of Technology and Wanjie Medical College are able to confer the bachelor's degree. There are also postgraduate education and PhD programs in Shandong University of Technology. The education system of Zibo offers more than 30 key majors, including mechanics, electronics and informatics, biological pharmacological science, textile and clothes and logistics, and can provide local enterprises with 30,000 specialized technical personnel every year.