Chongqing is fast becoming the most economically important city in the interior West China, with an urban population of around 8.8 million. In addition to the central urban area, the municipality of Chongqing also includes some 80,000 km² (31,000 sq mi) of the neighboring countryside and smaller towns, with approximately 30 million people altogether.
Chongqing is also the launching point for scenic boat trips down the Yangtze River through the Three Gorges Dam. The spectacular Buddhist Dazu Rock Carvings are three hours west of Chongqing City in the outlying Chongqing Municipality and are listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Chongqing is notorious for its hot and humid weather. The air quality, winter or summer, can be challenging to people with respiratory problems due to massive amounts of smog. Chongqing has been ranked by the World Bank as one of the most polluted cities in the world.