Guilin is a beautiful city. The town center is surrounded by two rivers and four lakes and studded with sheer sided karst mountains. Outside the city center, the buildings are less well kept. The main industry in the city is tourism so the city is much cleaner than other Chinese cities.
Guilin itself is like most other medium size Chinese cities, other than that it has a large number of western-style hotels, tourists and is relatively free of air pollution. Many Chinese domestic tourists also flock to this area. What makes it special is its proximity to many picturesque limestone mountains and formations.
Separated from the center of China and the Yangtze River basin by the Nan Mountains, Guangxi has always been distinct from the rest of China. The Han Chinese empire first expanded into Guangxi in the 2nd century BC. The Ling Canal was cut around the time, allowing small boats to transit from the Yangtze to the south flowing Xi River via the Xiang River.
Trade grew along the canal and river routes. Guilin was founded as a trading post in the 1st century BC on the West bank of the Kuei River. During the Ming dynasty, a garrison was set up in Guilin and the surrounding area gradually civilised with the development of farmland. The city had a population of over two million at the time of the Second World War, but was utterly destroyed during the war. The population slowly recovered with post-war construction of several factories for the production of paper, chemicals and agricultural equipment. However, market forces have caused several of these industries to relocate out of Guilin.
Guangxi and Guilin are home to 12 different ethnic minorities besides the Han Chinese. Guangxi is an autonomous region for the Zhuang ethnic group, rather than a province. See List of Chinese provinces and regions. Various other minorities, such as the Dong, are also found in the area.
Guilin is the third largest city in Guangxi, after Nanning and Liuzhou.