Zibo (pronounced [tsɨ́.pwǒ]; Chinese: 淄博) is a prefecture-level city in central Shandong province, China. It borders the provincial capital of Jinan to the west, Laiwu and Tai'an to the southwest, Linyi to the south, Weifang to the east, Dongying to the northeast, and Binzhou to the north.
Located in the centre of Shandong sheng, Zibo is an important transportation hub. Zibo governs 5 districts (Zhangdian, Zichuan, Boshan, Zhoucun and the Linzi) and each of these Chinese districts has a distinct downtown area of its own. The T-shaped city has a total area of 5,938 km2 (2,293 sq mi), including the counties of Huantai, Gaoqing, and Yiyuan. Zibo's total population is 4.53 million according to the 2010 census, of which 3,633,239 inhabitants live in the metropolitan area comprising the 5 urban districts, including Huantai county (currently still under construction) which will serve to expand the metro-area to Zouping County situated in the municipality of Binzhou. Zibo was the centre of the ancient State of Qi, whose capital Linzi was the most populous city in the east about 3000 years ago. Zibo is the birthplace of ancient football Cuju, which according to FIFA, was the earliest form of the sport. Pu Songling, a well-known writer of the Qing Dynasty, is one of the most famous people from Zibo. As the birthplace of Qi culture along with its abundance in natural resources, Zibo is a notable tourist city in China.
Zibo is considered as one of the birthplaces of the Han Chinese. Also, the remains of three major Neolithic cultures in ancient China, Beixin culture, Dawenkou culture, and Longshan culture have been found in Zibo. Zibo was once the capital of the ancient State of Qi, the most prosperous state during the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States Periods over 2,000 years ago in China. Duke Huan of Qi, ruler of Qi, appointed Guan Zhong, the famous thinker and economist, as his prime minister, and adopted Guan's thoughts and policies to administer his country, reform the economic system and develop relations with other states, After many years, Qi became the strongest state due to its economic and military strength, and was named as the "state with one thousand chariots" and the "head of the five strongest states". The culture and education undertakings were rather developed in Qi. Both poetry and music were at a high level. Linzi remained its capital for as long as 638 years, and was the biggest city in East Asia.
As the birthplace of the Qi Culture, Zibo has many cultural scenic spots. In the national city of history and culture, the Linzi District, the ruins of the ancient Qi city, the pit for burying the funerary horses and chariots and other famous cultural relics and historic sites, have been discovered and unearthed. All of them exemplify the past prosperity of the Qi State. The ancient city of Qi was one of the first places that was assigned to be a "cultural relics site" in China so it has been protected from demolition ever since. As such, it is rich in cultural relics and historical sites and is referred to as the "Underground Museum".
Zibo made significant contributions to the formation and prosperity of the Silk Road. Zibo was one of the biggest suppliers of silk products. Zhoucun, one of the townships in Zibo, was considered one of the four 'dry ports' during that period alongside Foshan, Jingdezhen, and Zhuxian. The major trade streets such as 'Dajie', 'Sishijie', 'Yinzijie' are well preserved to this date.
In 2004, FIFA President Sepp Blatter visited Zibo to celebrate FIFA's 100th year anniversary. FIFA has since then recognized the city as the birthplace of football.
Zibo is located near the center of Shandong Province, neighboring Mt. Tai in the south and backing the Yellow River in the north. Toward the east are the coastal cities of Qingdao, Yantai, and Weihai. The capital of Shandong, Jinan is to its west. Zibo is located in the transition zone between mountainous area in central Shandong and the North China Plain. Its southern area is covered with mid-sized mountains, while the center is hilly. The city's northern territory descends into plains. The ratio among mountains, hills and plains are 42%, 29.9% and 28.1%, respectively.With the Yihe River originating itself in the southern mountain area, and Yellow River flowing across the northern area, the city has comparatively abundant water resources. The workable reserve of ground water is 1.24 tons/day.
Zibo is located in a warm, temperate zone, and bears a semi-humid and semi-dry continental climate. Like other major cities in North China, Zibo has four distinct seasons. January and July are, respectively, the coldest and hottest months during the year. Zibo enjoys 180 to 220 frost-free days and the average annual hours of sunshine are 2542.6 to 2832.6. The annual average precipitation of Zibo is 25.2 inches (640.5 mm).