The city is known to Chinese people as being the city where Chairman Mao was a student and the site of his conversion to communism before he went on to change the course of Chinese history.
Changsha was important from the time of the Qin dynasty (221-207 BC). From 750-1100 AD, Changsha was a major commercial hub and its population increased accordingly. Under the Qing dynasty, in 1664, it was made the capital of Hunan province. It was the scene of major battles in the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-45 and was briefly occupied.