West Lake is a freshwater lake in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province in eastern China. It is divided into five sections by three causeways. There are numerous temples, pagodas, gardens, and artificial islands within the lake.
West Lake has influenced poets and painters throughout China's history for its natural beauty and historic relics, and it has also been among the most important sources of inspiration for Chinese garden designers. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, described as having "influenced garden design in the rest of China as well as Japan and Korea over the centuries" and reflecting "an idealized fusion between humans and nature".
Although there are dozens of other sites known as West Lake, the West Lake in Hangzhou is the most famous worldwide. It is surrounded by mountains on three sides. The lake as a whole has a volume of 0.014 cubic kilometers (0.0034 cu mi), but it is divided by the Sū, Bái, and Yánggōng causeways into five areas. Ordered by their areas, they are Outer West Lake, West Inner Lake, North Inner Lake Little South Lake and Yue Lake. "Outer West Lake" is the largest. Gu Shan is the largest natural island in the lake. The Su & Bai Causeways run across the lake. Three small man-made islands, Xiaoyingzhou, Huxintin, and Ruangongdun lie in the center of Outer West Lake. Thus, the basic layout is "one hill, two causeways, three islands, and five lakes".
West Lake is not only famous for its picturesque landscape, it is also associated with many scholars, national heroes, and martyrs of the Communist Revolution, thus embracing many aspects of Chinese culture. In addition, many ancient buildings, stone caves and engraved tablets in surrounding areas are among the most cherished national treasures of China, with significant artistic value.