Tianjin, alternatively romanized as Tientsin, is a municipality and a coastal metropolis in Northern China on the shore of the Bohai Sea. It is one of the nine national central cities in Mainland China, with a total population estimated at 15,621,200 in 2016, its built-up area, made up of 12 central districts, was home to 12,491,300 inhabitants in 2016 and is the world's 29th-largest agglomeration and 11th-most populous city proper. It is governed as one of the four municipalities under the direct administration of central government of the PRC and is thus under direct administration of the central government. Tianjin borders Hebei Province and Beijing Municipality, bounded to the east by the Bohai Gulf portion of the Yellow Sea. Part of the Bohai Economic Rim, it is the largest coastal city in northern China. In terms of urban population, Tianjin is the fourth largest in China, after Shanghai and Guangzhou. In terms of administrative area population, Tianjin ranks fifth in Mainland China; the walled city of Tianjin was built in 1404.

As a treaty port since 1860, Tianjin has been a major gateway to Beijing. During the Boxer Rebellion the city was the seat of the Tianjin Provisional Government. Under the Qing dynasty and the Republic of China, Tianjin became one of the largest cities in the region. At that time, numerous European-style buildings and mansions were constructed in concessions, many of which are well-preserved today. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, Tianjin suffered a depression due to the policy of the central government and Tangshan earthquake, but recovered from 1990s. Nowadays Tianjin is a dual-core city, with its main urban area located along the Hai River, which connects to the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers via the Grand Canal; as of the end of 2010, around 285 Fortune 500 companies have set up base in Binhai. Since 2010, Tianjin's Yujiapu Financial District has become known as China's Manhattan. Tianjin is the pinyin romanization of the Chinese characters 天津, which mean "Heavenly Ford" or "Ford of Heaven".

The origin of the name is obscure. One folk etymology is that it was an homage to the patriotic Chu poet Qu Yuan, whose "Li Sao" includes the verse "...departing from the Ford of Heaven at dawn...". Another is that it honors a former name of the girl, a Chinese constellation recorded under the name Tianjin in the Astronomical Record section of the Book of Sui. A third is; the most common are that it was bestowed by the Yongle Emperor of the Ming, who crossed Tianjin's Gu River on his way south to overthrow his nephew the Jianwen Emperor. The land where Tianjin is located today was created in between 900-1300 CE by sedimentation of various rivers entering the sea at Bohai Gulf, including the Yellow River, which entered the open sea in this area at one point; the construction of the Grand Canal under the Sui dynasty helped the future development of Tianjin as the canal ran from Hangzhou to the Beijing and Tianjin region by 609 CE. Grain from southern China was transported to the north through the canal and was used during the subsequent dynasties.

Tianjin begins to be mentioned in records during the Song dynasty and gains importance during the Yuan dynasty. Tianjin experienced development under the Yuan and became a pime location for the storage of goods and grains. Tianjin became a garrison shipping station during the Ming dynasty, it became a center of prosperity by the 17th century. During the Qing dynasty Tianjin Prefecture or Zhou was established in 1725, Tianjin County was established within the prefecture in 1731, it was upgraded to an urban prefecture or Fu before becoming a relay station under the command of the Viceroy of Zhili. In 1856, Chinese soldiers boarded The Arrow, a Chinese-owned ship registered in Hong Kong flying the British flag and suspected of piracy, of being engaged in the opium trade, they imprisoned them. In response, the British and French sent gunboats under the command of Admiral Sir Michael Seymour to capture the Taku forts near Tianjin in May 1858. At the end of the first part of the Second Opium War in June of the same year, the British and French prevailed, the Treaty of Tientsin were signed, which opened Tientsin to foreign trade.

The treaties were ratified by the Xianfeng Emperor in 1860, Tianjin was formally opened to Great Britain and France, thus to the outside world. Between 1895 and 1900, Britain and France were joined by Japan and Russia, by countries without Chinese concessions such as Austria-Hungary and Belgium, in establishing self-contained concessions in Tianjin, each with its own prisons, schools and hospitals; these nations left many architectural reminders of their rule, notably churches and thousands of villas. The presence of foreign influence in Tianjin was not always peaceful. In June 1870, the orphanage held by the Wanghailou Church, in Tianjin, built by French Roman Catholic missionaries, was accused of the kidnapping and brainwashing of Chinese children. On June 21, the magistrate of Tianjin County initiated a showdown at the church that developed into violent clashes between the church's Christian supporters and some non-Christian Tianjin residents; the furious protesters burned down Wanghailou Church and the nearby French cons

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