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The World Capital Of Useless Things

© Raffaele Petralla/Prospekt

Yiwu is a city located 350 kilometres west of Shanghai. It has a population of a million and a half inhabitants, despite being a small town according to the Chinese standard, Yiwu is the largest small commodities market in the world. It is the place where all the planet retailers go to refuel. It is the starting point of 80% of Christmas decorations and 60% of children’s toys. In the pre-Christmas period over 1000 containers a day depart from the city filled with goods. There are items that you can find at every latitude of the planet: toothpicks and tennis rackets, candles that play happy birthday, hooves and fresheners for cars, dolls and African sculptures.

The city is dominated by a series of covered markets, each the size of a stadium, occupied by thousands of stalls. Many of them sell the same merchandise. The city authorities claim that there are 50 thousand stalls selling more than 300,000 kinds of products. Whole shops are dedicated to the sale of pacifiers for children, halloween witches, of purses. A whole market is dedicated to socks. In the town, they are packed 3 billion pairs of socks a year. If you wanted to buy a belt there are millions of belts. There is the bras path, that for zippers, artificial flowers, calendars, the Christmas decorations, to name a few.

Permanently residing in the city about 8,000 foreign buyers scour relentlessly in search of products to be shipped. Middle-Eastern buyers are so many that arose in Arab neighbourhoods. Santa Claus comes here to buy gifts. In 2016 it was completed a railway line linking Madrid with Yiwu. About 10000 km, 741km more than the Trans-Siberian. It takes 21 days. While by boat it takes 6 weeks and costs are significantly higher than by train.

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