Located in China's less developed west, with 31 million inhabitants Chongqing is the largest of the four provincial-level municipalities in China under direct administration by the central government. The city of Chongqing itself has 12 million inhabitants. Despite being a very old city with a history dating back to the 11th century BC, not many old buildings or structures are visible nowadays in Chongqing - in fact skyscrapers and modern buildings are everywhere. This is probably due to the heavy bombardment the city experienced during WW II or the urge of the Chinese to replace old buildings with new.
Currently Chongqing is undergoing a rapid development phase with $1 billion/month being invested in new infrastructure, as the aim is to have Chongqing ignite the economy of the less developed western region as Chicago did for the USA in the last century. As a consequence of this rapid development, but also because Chongqing is surrounded by hills blocking the exchange of air, the air in Chongqing is very heavily polluted with a thick layer of smog almost permanently covering the city. For most tourists Chongqing is the starting point for cruises on the Yangtze river through the famous Three Gorges region.
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