Suzhou  was the capital of the kingdom of Wu from the 12th to 4th centuries BC. More recently, it has been a center of the silk trade and a place of gardens and canals. It has been called both the Venice and the Paris of the East. Suzhou has long been a haven for scholars, artists, and skilled craftsmen, and this is still the case today.
Suzhou has managed to retain much of a traditional Chinese look and many parts of the old downtown area are quite beautiful. A wander off the beaten path and into some of the old neighborhoods can be quite a treat. Suzhou is very much a water town- it's thoroughly criss-crossed with canals and bridges- and you can still see traces of a very old lifestyle centered around the canals.
At the same time, Suzhou has grown into a major center of joint-venture high-tech manufacturing and currently boasts one of the hottest economies in the world. It is the world's largest single producer of laptop computers. The Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) in the east, and the Suzhou New District (SND) in the west, are home to factories from numerous North American, European, East Asian, and Australian companies. Major industrial products include microchips, flash memory systems, electronics, computer equipment, telecommunications components, power tools, specialty chemicals and materials, automotive components, pharmaceuticals, and much more.