Yunnan General Introduction

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Yunnan

1>General Introduction
Yunnan (South of the Mountains) on the southern border of southwest China takes its name from its location to the south of the Yunling Mountains. It has an area exceeding 390,000 square kilometers and a population of 31.74 million, of which 12.5 per cent live in the cities and the rest in the rural areas. Also a multi-national province, it is inhabited by about 10 million people, or one-third of the province's total, from the minority nationalities including the Yis, Bais, Hanis, Zhuangs, Dais, Miaos, Lisus, Huis, Lahus, Vas, Naxis, Yaos, Tibetans, Jingpos, Blangs, Achangs, Nus, Pumis, Jinos, Benglongs, Mongolians and Drungs.

2>Topography
Yunnan on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau is contiguous to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in the northwest. It is high in the northwest and low in the southeast with very great difference in altitude between the two parts. Topographically, it is divided into the eastern and western sections, l) The Eastern Yunnan Plateau east of the line frown the Yuanjiang and Lishe rivers to Xiaguan, Jianchuan and Lijiang is part of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, its landform being similar to that of Guizhou. In this limestone plateau, karst topography is present over wide areas with spectacular pinnacles, caverns and subterranean streams, the best-known being the "Stone Forest" at Lunan. The numerous intermontane basins are ideal for farming. Yuanmou was the home of the Yuanmou Man who lived 1.7 million years ago and whose fossils were found in recent years. 2) The Western Yunnan Valleyland, part of the Hengduan range, consists of many intermontane valleys ranged vertically from north to south, and, from west to east, of the Gaoligong, Nushan and Yunling ranges. Rising 1,000-5,000 meters above sea level, the area with its precipitous terrain has narrow plains. With its complicated geological structure, Yunnan is frequently visited by earthquakes. Among its many hot springs, those in Tengchong are the best-known.
The Jinsha River, the upper section of the Yangtze River, and the Nanpan River, the upper section of the Zhujiang River, are the largest rivers in Yunnan that flow within Chinese borders. The main rivers in western Yunnan that flow out of China are the Lancang, Nujiang and Yuanjiang. The sections of these rivers in China contain dangerous rapids and shoals. Yunnan has many fault lakes, the largest being Dianchi and Erhai, both freshwater lakes. The province ranks third in China in hydroelectric power resources.

3>Climate
Yunnan with its complicated terrain has a varied climate. It is divided, from north to south, into three climatic zones -- temperate, sub-tropical and tropical, distributed, from low to high terrain, over four regions- the low, hot river valleys ba zi (small upland plains), mountain areas, and frigid highlands, forming a peculiar "three-dimensional" climate. Yunnan's climate is characterized by small seasonal change in temperature, great difference in daytime temperature, and distinct contrast between dry and wet seasons. Its mean annual temperature increases from 7oC in the northwest to 22oC or more in the Yuanjiang River valley. It has abundant rainfall and a mean annual precipitation of 750-1,750 mm. The rainfall in the wet season of May to October accounts for 83 per cent of the annual precipitation.

4>Communication
Railways
The 886 km-long first-level national railway from Nanning to Kunming links Yunnan with Guizhou Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Second-level railways include those from Guangtong to Dali, and from Kunyang to Yuxinan.
Highways
Second-level national highways stretch 958 km, third-level highways, 7,571 km and fourth-level highways, 52,248 km. The province has formed a network of communication lines radiating from Kunming to Sichuan and Guizhou provinces and Guangxi and Tibet autonomous regions, and further on to Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.
Waterways
In 1995, the province put an investment of 171 million yuan to add another 807 km of navigation lines. It built 2 wharfs with an annual handling capacity of 300,000-400,000 tons each and 4 wharfs with an annual handling capacity of 100,000 tons each. The annual volume of goods transported was 2 million tons and that of passengers transported, 2 million.
Airports
The province has 19 domestic air routes from Kunming to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Haikou, Chongqing, Shenyang, Harbin, Wuhan, Xian, Lanzhou, Hangzhou, Xiamen, Nanning, Shenzhen, Guiyang, Changsha and Guilin; three provincial air routes from Kunming to Jinghong, Mangshi and Simao; and four international air routess from Kunming to Bangkok, Yangon, Vientiane and Hong Kong.
The Wujiaba Airport in Kunming is a national first-class airport and Xishuangbanna, Mangshi and Simao airports are second-class terminals.

5>Stone Forest
The Stone Forest is in the Lunan Yi Nationality Autonomous County, Yunnan Province. It covers an area of 2,670 square kilometers and is divided into several scenic areas with names like Greater Stone Forest, Lesser Stone forest, Outer Stone Forest, Underground Stone Forest, Stone Forest Lake, and Da Dieshui Fall. The Stone Forest was formed by karst two million to thirty mullion years ago. The Forest was contains peaks, pillars, stalagmites, depressions, underground rivers, and caves. The fantastic stone pinnacles rising abruptly from the ground resemble a huge, dense forest. Many of the stone pinnacles are associated with legends. In the Lesser Stone Forest. There is one pinnacle that resembles a slim and beautiful girl. Seen in silhouette with another stone formation, the girl appears to be carrying a basket on her back. This is the famous Ashma, heroine of an epic poem popular among the Sani people. According to the legend, Ashma, a Sani girl, refusing to be married to the landlord Rebubala, fought against the landlord and his men with her true love Ahei. They finally ran away from the landlord and came to the Stone Forest. But ganging up with the stone demon, Rebubala summoned up a flood and drowned Ashma, who then turned into the stone peak.
The origin of the Stone Forest is also the subject of an old legend. Long, long ago, in an attempt to flood the farmland of Lunan, the evil monster Asabe used his magic whip to drive a group of stone pinnacles to a place where they would obstruct the current of the Nanpan River. A hero of the Sani people, on hearing the news, rushed to the spot and fought the monster. Asabe was finally defeated and had to flee, leaving behind him the pinnacles that still bore the scars of his whip. These became the Stone Forest.

Every year, around the 24th and 25th day of the sixth lunar month, the Sani people gather in the Stone Forest to celebrate the “Torch Festival.” Visitors are welcome to enjoy the folk dances and the wrestling competitions of the Sani youngsters.

Bus trips take visitors to the Stone Forest from Kunming. On the way there is a cave which contains a chamber with stone beds and stone benches on which people can rest. Lying on a stone bed, one can see a strip of sky through a fine crack in the roof of the cave. Tourists can either return to Kunming on the same day or stay overnight at the Stone Forest Hotel. Hotels, shops, and restaurants have been built to meet the needs of the developing tourist industry in the area.

Last Updated ( Monday, 22 June 2009 10:50 )  

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