Dali is the ancient capital of both the Bai kingdom Nanzhao, which flourished in the area during the 8th and 9th centuries, and the Kingdom of Dali, which reigned from 937–1253. Situated in a once significantly Muslim part of South China, Dali was also the center of the Panthay Rebellion against the reigning imperial Qing Dynasty from 1856–1863. It was severely damaged during an earthquake in 1925.
Dali is also famous for the many types of marble it produces, which are used primarily in construction and for decorative objects. In fact, Dali is so famous for the stone that the name of marble in Chinese is literally "Dali Stone".
Dali is now a major tourist destination, along with Lijiang, for both domestic and international tourists