Changde is situated towards the northwest of Hunan Province, and has a population of 5,717,218, according to the census of 2010. Around 1,232,182 of the inhabitants of Changde reside in the metro area that has two districts, namely Dingcheng and Wuling. Jinshi, a county-level city of the Hunan province, and six other counties are administered by Changde. The prefecture-level city borders Dongting Lake to the east, Yiyang city to the south, Hebei province to the south, and Wuling and Xuefeng Mountains to the west.
New schools, parks, museums, and skyscrapers have come up and roads rebuilt in the city, in what can be called a “massive construction boom”, in the past decade. Changde Poetry Wall, a popular tourist destination, is a three-kilometre long anti-flood dyke, situated alongside the Yuanjiang River, with poems, handwritten work, and paintings engraved on it. The Wall holds the Guinness World Record for being the longest wall with engraved art.
The city is famed for its Paleolithic and Neolithic sites, and around 500 of those sites have been discovered so far. Human settlements were discovered in Li County, in the year 1984. The Pengtoushan site excavation of 1988 helped in identifying the "Pengtoushan Culture", it being the earliest evidence of a settled village in China. The Archaeological research carried out in 2011 suggests the possibility of rice cultivation in Shanlonggang, a settlement that was part of the Pengtoushan civilization.
Changde has a subtropical climate with dry, cloudier winters, highly humid, rainy springs, dry autumns and hot, humid summers. The annual mean temperature is recorded at 17.37 degree Celcius. The monthly average temperatures range from 5.0 degree Celcius in January to 28.9 degree Celcius in July. Annual precipitation is recorded at 1,366 mm, and the city receives 1,602 hours of bright sunshine every year.
Changde is located on the upstream area of the Yuan River. The Chinese phrase denoting "Three mountains and three rivers", is used to describe the general physiography of the city. Changde has Taiyang Mountain to the north, Mount De to the south, and Mount Hefu to the west. The place is abundant in water resources, with the rivers, Chuanzi and Xin flowing through Wuling urban district. Liuye lake, which situates towards the north-east of the city centre, is yet another geographical feature of Changde, with several lakes, ponds, and streams flowing through the city.
The Shimen county has Huping Mountain, which is the highest peak (2,099m) in Hunan province. The Hupingshan-Houhe National Natural Reserve Complex in the county has been identified as a potential site for a tiger reserve, as to reintroduce captive-born tigers into the wild. The critically endangered species, the South China Tiger, has had historically as its natural habitat, the Xuefeng and Wuling mountains.
Changde has tobacco as its most prominent industry. Changde Cigarette Factory (CDCF) employed around 8,300 of its people, in the year 2013. CDCF is currently a subsidiary of the Hunan China Tobacco Industry Co. Ltd., and accounted for around 51.2% of Changde’s total industrial value, as of 2012. The city also serves as an administrative centre, as well as a storage and shipping point for cotton, grain, medicinal herbs, wood and tung oil. Changde even produces processed foods, ceramics, leather, textiles and machine tools. Medium-sized ships are loaded with commodities like cotton, oil, and grain, for onward shipment to Yueyang, Changsha, or Hankou. Timber rafting is carried out across Lake Dongting to Yueyang, and from there to the Yangtze River. Changde developed local products like leather, wood, and bristles, after the year 1949.