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Dandong City ranges in latitude from 39° 43' to 41° 09' N and in longitude from 123° 22' to 125° 41' E, and at its greatest spans 196 kilometres (122 mi) from east to west and 160 kilometres (99 mi) from south to north.
Bordering prefectures are Dalian (SW), Anshan (W), Liaoyang (NW), and Benxi (N).
On 20 January 1965, the city adopted its present name of Dandong, which means "red east," to avoid the connotations of its previous name, which was considered imperialistic by some.
Recently, the city has been gaining influence in this region of China because of its market with North Korea and the government's future plans to develop the city into a special "Border Economic Cooperation Zone" for export and import in order to expand the country's ability to conduct trade.
Dandong is located on the western border of North Korea and the northwest (right) shore of the Yalu River, facing Sinuiju to the southeast.
In 2000, there were 244,430 family households (with a pop.
of 741,882) and 4,955 collective households (with a pop. The demographic ratio of men to women was 99.52 males to every 100 females.
The administrative city contained approximately 2.45 million inhabitants as of the 2010 census.
The Hushan Great Wall, the far eastern end of the Great Wall of China, is located here.
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Dandong has therefore had a dynamic history because of its strategic location for the northeast's rich natural resources and because of its convenient access to the ocean.