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Zhangjiajie is located in the Hu’nan Providence of south central China. With four areas under its jurisdiction, the Yongding District, Wuling District, Cill County and Sangzhi county, it is said that Zhang Liang, a famed strategist of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD) founded Qingyan (now Zhangjiajie) Mountain and claimed it as an ideal refuge to escape Liu Bang, the First emperor of the Han Dynasty. The city is named after Zhang’s descendants who are still believed to live in the region.
In 1992, Zhangjiajie was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to three major ethnic groups the Tujia, Bai, and Miao people, retain much of their traditional culture including language, festivals, clothing and architectural styles. Zhangjiajie hosts several annual celebrations including Spring Festival, Lantern Festival, Torch Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Buddha Bathing Festival, and Zhangjiajie International Country Music Festival. The city has become a major destination for tourism with its beautiful mountains and unique cultural heritage.
In October 2009, officials from Santa Fe and Zhangjiajie signed a Sister Cities Agreement acknowledging that both cities share many cultural and historic similarities. Their relationship seeks to strengthen cultural, educational, and tourist-based exchanges.
Carol Robertson Lopez, Chair of the City of Santa Fe Sister Cities Committee and Jeff Case, Ph.D., meet with young students during a visit to Zhangjiajie.