Zhejiang is an eastern coastal province of the People's Republic of China. The word Zhejiang (crooked river) was the old name of the Qiantang River, which passes through Hangzhou, the provincial capital. The name of the province is often abbreviated to its first character.
Zhejiang borders Jiangsu province and Shanghai municipality to the north, Anhui province to the northwest, Jiangxi province to the west, and Fujian province to the south; to the east is the East China Sea, beyond which lie the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.
The area of modern Zhejiang was outside the major sphere of influence of early Chinese civilization during the Shang Dynasty (sixteenth century to eleventh century BC). Instead, this area was populated by peoples collectively known as the Yue, such as the Dongyue and the Ouyue. In the Spring and Autumn Period, the state of Yue emerged in northern Zhejiang. The Yue state was heavily influenced by the Chinese civilization further north; then, under King Goujian of Yue, Yue reached its zenith and was able to wipe out the powerful state of Wu to its immediate north, in 473 BC. Then, in 333 BC, Yue was conquered by the state of Chu, which was to the west. In 221 BC, the state of Qin completed the subjugation of the last of the formerly independent states of China under its control, including the state of Chu second to last, thereby including what is now Zhejiang as part of a unified Chinese empire.