As one of the oldest dialects in China, Wu dialect can be traced back to The Spring and Autumn period and The Period of Warring States
. Wu dialect spread to the southeast area in Han Dynasty, which formed the later Min dialect. In South and North Dynasty, Wu dialect also had great influence on Japanese. With the economic and cultural development of Suzhou, Wu dialect swept over the country during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. In the late Ming Dynasty
, the number of people who spoke Wu dialect accounted for 20% of the country's entire population. Suzhou dialect
used t o be the symbol of the Wu dialect. With the rising of Shanghai, some people considered Shanghai dialect as the new symbol. In a words, the impact of Wu dialect remains in Wu area.
Wu dialects are mainly spoken in the southern part of Jiangsu province such as Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, the southern part of Nantong, Jingjiang and Danyang, the northern part of Zhejiang province such as Hangzhou, Shaoxing, Ningbo, Huzhou, and Jiaxing, and Shanghai. The subdialects of this region are mutually understandable among each other.
List of Wu dialect subgroups
), with about 8 million people, includes 15 cities and counties in Jiangsu and Anhui provinces, such as Changzhou(常州
) and Guangde(广德
), with about 23.2 million people, includes 30 cities and counties, such as Haimen(海门
) and Haining(海宁
), with about 3 million people, includes 5 cities and counties, such as Huzhou(湖州
) and Yuhang(余杭
) has about 1.2 million people, including districts such as Xihu District, Shangcheng District, Gongshu District, Jianggan District and part of Yuhang District.
), with about 7.8 million people, includes 12 cities and counties such as Linan(临安
) and Cixi(慈溪
), with about 4 million people, includes 10 cities and counties, such as Ningbo(宁波
) and Daishan(岱山