It has been one of the world's largest cities, enjoying peace and prosperity despite wars and disasters.
Nanjing served as the capital of Eastern Wu, one of the three major states in the Three Kingdoms period (211–280); the Eastern Jin and each of the Southern Dynasties (Liu Song, Southern Qi, Liang and Chen), which successively ruled southern China from 317–589; the Southern Tang, one of the Ten Kingdoms (937–76); the Ming dynasty when, for the first time, all of China was ruled from the city (1368–1421); The city also served as the seat of the rebel Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (1851–64) and the Japanese puppet regime of Wang Jingwei (1940–45) during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Nanjing, one of the nation's most important cities for over a thousand years, is recognized as one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China.
Nanjing is one of the top three Chinese scientific research centers, especially in the chemical sciences, according to the Nature Index.
In 1421, the Yongle Emperor persisted in relocating the capital to Beijing, however he had to withdrew his order before his death.
Although Beijing was the de facto capital after that, Nanjing remained the official one of the Ming Empire until 1441, when Emperor Yingzong ordered to not to prefix the words "行在" ("provisional") on the Beijing Government seals any longer, while Nanjing's need to prefix "Nanjing" for distinguishing purposes remained.
The court of Da Chu, a short-lived puppet state established by the Jurchens, and the court of Song were once in the city.
The ratio of college students to total population ranks No.1 among large cities nationwide.
Nanjing boasts many high-quality universities and research institutes, with the number of universities listed in 100 National Key Universities ranking third, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.
As the center of the empire, early-Ming Nanjing had worldwide connections.
It was home of the admiral Zheng He, who went to sail the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and it was visited by foreign dignitaries, such as a king from Borneo (Boni 渤泥), who died during his visit to China in 1408.