On the outskirts is a famed bronze temple, dating from the Ming dynasty.Its economic importance derives from its geographical position.
Located in the middle of the Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau, Kunming is located at an altitude of 1,900 metres (6,234 feet) above sea level and at a latitude just north of the Tropic of Cancer.
Kunming has as of 2014 and is located at the northern edge of the large Lake Dian, surrounded by temples and lake-and-limestone hill landscapes.
The city has continued to develop rapidly under China's modernization efforts.
Kunming's streets have widened while office buildings and housing projects develop at a fast pace.
In the 14th century, Kunming was retaken when the Ming dynasty defeated the Mongols, who built a wall surrounding present-day Kunming.
Ming General Wu Sangui defected to Manchu invaders 300 years later and held the city until his death in 1678, long after the rest of China had fallen under Manchu rule.
Kunming consists of an old, previously walled city, a modern commercial district, residential and university areas.
The city has an astronomical observatory, and its institutions of higher learning include Yunnan University, Yunnan Normal University and a medical college.
Many of the city's inhabitants were displaced as a result of the 1833 Kunming earthquake.