Chinese provinces: Sichuan - Land of Abundance

Updated:Sat, Jul 21, 2012 19:44 PM    Related:Chinese provinces

Chinese provinces

Sichuan province (四川) is a rich and beautiful place located in southwest China and is called Chuan or Shu for short. Major cities and Tourist attractions include Chengdu, the capital city and Mount Emei, Dujiangyan, Baodingshan sculptures, Leshan Giant Buddha, Jiuzhaigou.


General information

Area: 488,000 square km

Population: 87.26 million (2007)

Capital City: Chengdu

Nationalities:Han, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Hui and Qiang.

GDP : CNY1.05 trillion(2007)

Average temperature: in January, 3oC to 8oC in the lowlands, -9oC to 3oC on the plateau, and 8 to 13oC in the south; in July, 25oC to 29oC in the lowlands, 11 to 17oC on the plateau, and 22oC to 26oC in the south.

Mountains: Minshan, Longmen, Micang, and Daba Mountains in the north, Wushan Mountain in the east; Shaluli, Qionglai, and Daxue Mountains in the west.

Rivers: the Yangtze River flows along Sichuan's western and southern borders, with the southern segment called the Jinsha River. The Yangtze traverses the Sichuan Basin and is joined by several tributaries, the major ones being the Minjiang-Dadu, Tuojiang, and Jialing Rivers, on the plateau it meets another tributary, the Yalong River.

Administrative divisions: 3 autonomous prefectures, 19 cities, 165 counties, 8 autonomous counties, and 1 industrial-agricultural district.

Neighboring areas: Qinghai, Gansu, Shaanxi, Hubei, Hunan, Guizhou, and Yunnan Provinces, Tibet Autonomous Region.

Major cities: Chengdu, Chongqing, Dukou, Zigong, Yibin, Neijiang, Wanxian, Nanchong, Leshan, Luzhou, Xichang.

Tourist attractions: Mount Emei, Mount Qingcheng,Dujiangyan, Baodingshan sculptures, Leshan Giant Buddha, Jiuzhaigou.

Geography of Sichuan

Sichuan (Four Rivers) is a rich and beautiful place and is known as the "Land of Abundance". It is called Chuan or Shu for short and is located on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.

Geographically, the province consists of the Western Sichuan Plateau, which has an average altitude of over 3,000 meters, and the Sichuan Basin. At the bottom of the Basin is the Chengdu Plain. In the Basin, the famous Dujiangyan Irrigation System irrigates more than 600,000 hectares of farmland, making it fertile and rich with crops all the year round.

Sichuan has a variety of physical features. In the west is Mount Gongga, the highest peak in the province that rises 7,556 meters above sea level; in contrast, the surface of the Yangtze River in the east has only an altitude of less than 100 meters. The land gradually slopes downward from the northwest to the southeast. The natural formations in Sichuan not only provide many spectacular sights for tourists, but also creates different kinds of ecological environments for plants and animals. In the thirteen natural preserves, lovely giant pandas live on arrow bamboo, and metasequoia is now attracting more and more visitors with its unique postures.

There are altogether 1,300 rivers in the province. Among them, only the Hei He, the Bai He, and the Jisqu Rivers flow into the Huang He. The rest all join the Yangtze. Of them, the major ones are the Jialing, Tuojiang, Minjiang, Dadu, and Yalong rivers. Of all the rivers, some are favourable for navigation, others are good for irrigation, and still others, raging and torrential, provide rich waterpower resources.

Sichuan has more than 80 million hectares of lush forests with a wood storage next to only the Heilongjiang Province in northeast China. In the snow capped high mountains grow the Chinese caterpillar fungus, the bulb of fritillary, the snow lotus, and other precious medicinal herbs. In the lowlands of the deep valleys you can find blooming silk cotton and fruit trees heavy with banana, lychee, and longan. One can also enjoy the natural landscape of thatched cottages with cactus fenses. In the southern part of Sichuan, green and luxuriant bamboo covering the undulating hills like an immense ocean can be seen, while in the Chengdu Plain, one can find bamboo planted in clusters around thatched cottages.

Sichuan is a province of multi-nationalities. In it there live fifteen nationalities in all: the Qiang, Yi, Miso, Hui, Mongolian, Zang (Tibetan), Tujia, Bouyei, Lisu, Naxi, Bai, Manchu, Zhuang, and Dai. Though each has its own history, culture, and customs, they live in peace and harmony with each other. The Qiangs have a long history and now live only in Sichuan. They have the custom of drinking wine together. Before the actual drinking begins, they will sing songs in honor of their own national heroes or in praise of the unique bond between the Qiangs and the Hans.

Climate of Sichuan

The climate is highly variable. The Sichuan Basin (including Chengdu) in eastern half of the province experiences a subtropical monsoon climate with long, warm to hot, humid summers and short, mild to cool, dry and cloudy winters, with China's lowest sunshine totals. The western areas have a mountainous climate characterized by very cold winters and mild summers, with plentiful sunshine. The southern part of the province, including Panzhihua, has a sunny, subtropical climate with very mild winters and hot summers.

Economy of Sichuan

Sichuan has been historically known as the "Province of Abundance". It is one of the major agricultural production bases of China. Grain, including rice and wheat, is the major product with output that ranked first in China in 1999. Commercial crops include citrus fruits, sugar canes, sweet potatoes, peaches and grapeseeds. Sichuan also had the largest output of pork among all the provinces and the second largest output of silkworm cocoons in China in 1999. Sichuan is rich in mineral resources. It has more than 132 kinds of proven underground mineral resources of which reserves of 11 kinds including vanadium, titanium, and lithium are the largest in China. The Panxi region alone possesses 13.3% of the reserves of iron, 93% of titanium, 69% of vanadium, and 83% of the cobalt of the whole country.

Sichuan is one of the major industrial centers of China. In addition to heavy industries such as coal, energy, iron and steel, the province has also established a light industrial sector comprising building materials, wood processing, food and silk processing.

Other important industries in Sichuan include aerospace and defense (military) industries. A number of China's rockets (Long March rockets) and satellites were launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, located in the city of Xichang.

Sichuan's beautiful landscapes and rich historical relics have also made the province a major center for tourism.

Sichuan's nominal GDP for 2009 was 1.415 trillion yuan (US$207 billion), equivalent to 17,380 RMB (US$2,545) per capita. In 2008, the per capita net income of rural residents was 4,121 yuan (US$593). The per capita disposable income of the urbanites averaged 12,633 yuan (US$1,819).

History of Sichuan

The province and its vicinity were the cradle of unique local civilizations, which can be dated back to at least the fifteenth century BC (coinciding with the later years of Shang Dynasty). Beginning from the ninth century BC, Shu (today Chengdu) and Ba (today Chongqing City) emerged as cultural and administrative centers where two rival kingdoms were established.

Shu's existence was unknown until an archaeological discovery in 1986 at a small village named Sanxingdui (三星堆 Sān Xīng Duī) in Guanghan County. It is believed to be an ancient city of the Shu Kingdom, where excavations have yielded invaluable archaeological information.

Although the Qin Dynasty destroyed the kingdoms of Shu and Ba, the Qin government accelerated the technological and agricultural advancements of Sichuan making it comparable to that of the Huang He (Yellow River) Valley. The Dujiangyan Irrigation System, built in the 3rd century BC under the inspection of Li Bing, was the symbol of modernization of that period. Composed of a series of dams, it redirected the flow of the Min Jiang, a major tributary of the Yangtze River, to fields, relieving the damage of seasonal floods. The construction and various other projects greatly increased the harvest of the area which thus became the main source of provisions and men for Qin's unification of China.

In the 20th century, as Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, and Wuhan had all been lost to the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the capital of the Republic of China had been temporary relocated to Chongqing. The difficulty of accessing the region overland from the eastern China and the foggy climate hindering the accuracy of Japanese bombing of the Sichuan basin and the city of Chongqing made the region the stronghold of Chiang Kai-Shek's Guomindang government during 1938-45.

As the Second Sino-Japanese War was soon followed by the resumed Chinese Civil War, and the cities of the east fell to the Communists one after another, the Guomindang government again tried to make Sichuan its stronghold on the mainland. Chiang Kai-Shek himself flew to Chongqing from Taiwan in November 1949 to lead the defense. But the same month Chongqing fell to the Communists, followed by Chengdu on 10 December. The Guomindang general Wang Sheng wanted to stay behind with his troops to continue anticommunist guerilla war in Sichuan, but was recalled to Taiwan, many of his soldiers making their way there as well, via Burma.

The province was deeply affected by the Great Chinese Famine of 1959-1961, during which period some 9.4 million people (13.07% of the population at the time) died. When Deng Xiaoping took power in 1978, Sichuan was one of the first provinces to undergo limited experimentation with free enterprise.

In May 2008, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9/8.0 hit just 79 km northwest of the provincial capital of Chengdu. Official figures recorded a death toll of nearly 70,000 people, and millions of people were left homeless.

Administrative divisions

Sichuan consists of eighteen prefecture-level cities and three autonomous prefectures:

# Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Administrative Seat

— Sub-provincial city —

9 Chengdu 成都市 Chéngdū Shì Qingyang District

— Prefecture-level city —

3 Mianyang 绵阳市 Miányáng Shì Fucheng District

4 Guangyuan 广元市 Gǔangyúan Shì Lizhou District

5 Nanchong 南充市 Nánchōng Shì Shunqing District

6 Bazhong 巴中市 Bāzhōng Shì Bazhou District

7 Dazhou 达州市 Dázhōu Shì Tongchuan District

8 Ya'an 雅安市 Yǎ'ān Shì Yucheng District

10 Deyang 德阳市 Déyáng Shì Jingyang District

11 Suining 遂宁市 Sùiníng Shì Chuanshan District

12 Guang'an 广安市 Guǎng'ān Shì Guang'an District

13 Meishan 眉山市 Méishān Shì Dongpo District

14 Ziyang 资阳市 Zīyáng Shì Yanjiang District

15 Leshan 乐山市 Lèshān Shì Shizhong District

16 Neijiang 内江市 Nèijiāng Shì Shizhong District

17 Zigong 自贡市 Zìgòng Shì Ziliujing District

18 Yibin 宜宾市 Yíbīn Shì Cuiping District

19 Luzhou 泸州市 Lúzhōu Shì Jiangyang District

21 Panzhihua 攀枝花市 Pānzhīhūa Shì Dongqu District

— Autonomous prefectures —

1 Garzê (Tibetan) 甘孜藏族自治州 Gānzī Zàngzú Zìzhìzhōu Kangding County

2 Ngawa (Tibetan & Qiang) 阿坝藏族羌族自治州 Ābà Zàngzú Qiāngzú Zìzhìzhōu Barkam County

20 Liangshan (Yi) 凉山彝族自治州 Liángshān Yízú Zìzhìzhōu Xichang

Places of Interests and Tourist Attractions of Sichuan

Capital city Chengdu was an ancient capital during the Period of Three Kingdoms. It has a history of over 2000 years. Du Fu's Thatched Roof Cottage is a park built in the memory of the famous Tang poet, Du Fu, where he wrote over 240 poems. The Temple of Marquis Wu was built in the 6th century for Zhu Geliang, a respected strategist and statesman. The River-Viewing Pavilion is a park with over 100 varieties of bamboo, where a Tang dynasty woman poet lived. The city zoo has over 10 giant pandas, rare, golden-haired monkeys, and 200 other varieties.

The scenery of Sichuan has a unique style, for Mount Emei has been regarded as the "Beauty under Heaven," Mount Qingcheng as the most tranquil and serene spot in the world, Jianmen Pass as the most perilous path, and the Yangtze Gorges as the most magnificent view. In addition to these scenic spots, there are other fascinating wonders of nature.

90 kilometers from Chengdu is Green City Mountain, a Taoist center. Another 700 to 800 kilometers is Jiuzhaigou, a 60,000-hectare primitive forest with many wild, exotic animals such as wild pigs, bears, and snakes. Throughout the forest are carpets of flowers, lakes, and waterfalls. 150 kilometers from Chengdu is the Lying Dragon Nature Preserve that contains many wild pandas. 240 kilometers southeast of Chengdu is Zigong and its Dinosaur Museum.

The Carvings of Dazu County

In Dazu County of eastern Sichuan Province, there are more than 50,000 stone sculptures scattered in 40 places. The largest, richest and most exquisite collection of statues is situated at the foot of the Baoding and North Hill. They are representative stone sculptures of the Tang (628-907) and Song (960-1279) Dynasties. The stone carvings along the Baoding Hill were hewn out from 1174 to 1249 under the Southern Song Dynasty. The row is 500 meters long and consists of nearly ten thousand statues. The most distinctive and majestic are the "Thousand-arm Goddess of Mercy" and the 31 meter-long Sleeping Buddha. They are unparalled works of art. The sculptures located on the North Hill were begun in 892 and continued over the next 300 years. Altogether, there are 264 shrines and 7,000 statues covering a distance of 500 meters.

Mount Emei

Mount Emei covers an are of more than 300 square km and is situated in the southwest region of Emei County. Mount Emei is the general name for three mountains, Da'e (Great E), Er'e(Second E) and San'e(Third E). It is one of the four famous Buddhist mountains in China with undulating peaks covered with lush forests and green bamboos. Majestic, quiet and secluded, it has been acclaimed as a 'Beauty under Heaven'. Most of the monasteries and temples on Mount Emei were built during the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD25-220) while others were added later. As a well-known Buddhist sanctury of Samantabhadra, it has more than 100 monasteries and temples that were built during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911). Its main monasteries and scenic areas include : Baoguo Monastery, Wannian Monastery, Fuhu (Ambushing Tiger) Monastery, Leiyin (Thunder Sound) Monastery, Chunyang Hall, Qingyin (Pure Tone) Tower, Heilongjiang Plank Road, Hongchun Ping, Xianfeng (Fairy Peak) Monastery, Xixiang (Wash Elephant) Pool, the Golden Summit, Huayan Top, and the White Dragon Cave.

The Giant Buddha of Leshan

The Giant Buddha of Leshan is carved in to a cliff overlooking the intersection of the Minjiang River, Qingyi River and the Dadu River. As the old saying goes: "The mountain is a Buddha, the Buddha is a mountain, ". being the largest stone Buddha in the world. Carving started in 713 during the Tang Dynasty and lasted until its completion in 803. It is 71 meters tall, 28 meters wide at the shoulders, 14.7 meters high for the head, 7 meters long for its ears with its nose being 5.6 meters long!


It is a deep valley more than 40 km long in which there are nine Tibetan villages. Secluded, it has a variety of natural sceneries including lakes, waterfalls, snowy mountains and beautiful green forests. In the valley, there are one hundred lakes of various sizes and shapes. In Wuhua Hai (Five Flower Sea), waters appear in five colours presenting a marvelous wonder of nature. The one-hundred-meter wide Nuorilang Waterfall's 30-meter drop is a spectacular view. The waters here are crystal clear and occasionally one can see birds swim in the lake while fish fly in the blue sky. Primitive, simple and uninhabited, it is a wonderful fairyland of nature.

Sichuan Local Cuisine

Sichuan food represents one of the four schools of cuisine in China. It is sour, sweet, bitter, hot, spicy, aromatic and salty. Anyone who tastes Sichuan food is deeply impressed by its strong spicy and hot flavor. Chicken in chilly sauce and fish in chilly bean sauce are the most typical hot dishes of Sichuan. No wonder some foreign dub Sichuan food "Mexican food in Chinese style". There is a great variety of Sichuan food, but braised bear's paw in brown sauce, abalone with dragon-well tea flavor, tea flavor duck and two crisp delicacies are the favority of foreign guests. In addition, chicken in piquant sauce, chicken wrapped in cellophane, shredded pork, Sichuan style, hot and spicy bean curd and marinated white gourd, etc, have a strong local flavor.




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