Originally in the territory of the Western Qiang peoples. The city of Lanzhou became part of the territory of Qin during the 6th century BC.
During 81 BC, under the Han dynasty, it became the seat of Jincheng county (Xian) and later of Jincheng commandery (jun), the county being renamed Yunwu.
The town used to be known as the Golden city, and was a major link on the ancient Northern Silk Road.
After the fall of the Han Dynasty. The city of Lanzhou became the capital of a succession of tribal states. Uniting with different cultural heritages, the zone at present-day Gansu province, from the 5th to the 11th century, became a center for Buddhist study.
During the 4th century it was briefly the capital of the independent state of Earlier Liang, however the Northern Wei dynasty reestablished Jincheng commandery, renaming the county Zicheng.
Under the Sui Dynasty the town became the seat of Lanzhou prefecture for the first time, retaining this name under the Tang Dynasty. In 763 the zone was overrun by the Tibetans and was then recovered by the Tang in 843.
However, later it fell into the hands of the Western Xia dynasty and was subsequently recovered by the Song Dynasty in 1941. The name Lanzhou was reestablished, and the county renamed Lanzhuan.
But, during 1127 it fell into the hands of the Jin Dynasty, and during 1235 was the possesion of the Mongols. While in the Ming Dynasty, Lanzhou was reinstated as a political unit.
The town acquired its current name during 1656 in the Qing Dynasty. When Gansu became a separate province during 1666, Lanzhou became its capital.
Area: 14,620 km²
Elevation: 1,600 m above sea level
China's northwest geographical center
Location of mountains, situated on the south and north sides of the town:
Mt. Pingliang, Qilian Ranges, and Mt. Kongtong (the most famous in Taoism)
The Yellow River flows through from west to east.