Yiwu (simplified Chinese: 义乌) is a city of about 1.2 million people in central Zhejiang Province near the central eastern coast of the People’s Republic of China. The city is famous for its small commodity trade and vibrant free markets and is a regional tourist destination. Although administratively Yiwu is a county-level city under the jurisdiction of Jinhua, it is more well-known than Jinhua nationally and internationally. Yiwu was founded in the Qin dynasty, at or about 222 BC. Yiwu’s long history flourished as early as the Neolithic Age. Yiwu first became a county in 222BC and was renamed Yiwu County in the year 624 AD. In May 1988, the former Yiwu County was upgraded to a county-level city. In 1995, Yiwu ranked the 47th among China’s 100 most powerful counties/cities regarding comprehensive economic strength and in the same year listed as Zhejiang’s sole city among the nation’s experimental counties/cities of comprehensive reform. In 2001, the Yiwu overall economy ranked 19th of all counties (cities) of China.
Yiwu’s early culture has given birth to many great figures in the fields of literature, art, military, education, and engineering. Among these were Chen Wangdao, China’s first translator of the Communist Manifesto;Wu Han, historian and former deputy mayor of Beijing; Zhu Zhixi, the meritorious engineer in harnessing the Yellow River, Zhu Danxi, one of the four distinguished doctors of the Jin and Yuan Dynasties ,and Zongze, a well-known general from the Song Dynasty who resisted aggression by the State of Jin, and as well as Wang Lee Hom, a very famous singer.
Yiwu contains an Olympic quality stadium. Many events associated with trade take place in Yiwu City. Yiwu also has a sizable Chinese Muslim and Korean population, mostly working in the import and export businesses, as well as a very small Jewish population also in those businesses. It also has a large Christian Church. Yiwu is also known as the “sock town” as it produces over three billion pairs of socks for Wal-Mart, Pringles and Disney annually. Yiwu is also known as China’s number one producer of fashion jewelry.
The Guyue Bridge, a stone arch bridge built in 1213, is one the few existing bridges of that era.