Province is situated on a plateau in southwest China formed
with the rising of the Himalayas from the ancient sea. In the northwest
it borders on the eastern section of the Himalayas, thus it seems
to be the last step to Tibet, the "roof of the world".
"Yunnan" in Chinese means "south of the clouds".
Various colors and shapes of the clouds over this plateau give Yunnan
its full name "South of the Colorful Clouds".These beautiful
rosy clouds always appear in the south, which is thought to be an
auspicious sign.Yunnan people, therefore,are proud of living on
this blessed land.
Yunnan is called "Yun" or
"Dian" for short, located at latitude between
21°8'32" and 29°15' 8'' N and longitude
between 97°31'39'' and 106° 11'47''E. It is
a vast land with towering mountains and plentiful rivers
as well as abundant natural resources. The land area
is 394,000 square km,the eighth largest province in
China. By comparison with other countries, it is slightly
larger than Japan and Italy and about the same size
as Zimb-abwe. The province has a total population of
41 million people, with 16 prefectures, autonomous prefectures
and cities within its jurisdiction. Yunnan borders on
Guizhou Province and Guangxi Zhang Ethnic Minority Autonomous
Region to the east, Cho-ngqing and Sichuan to the north
and Tibet Autonomous Region to the northwest. To its
west is Myanmar and to its south are Laos and Viet-nam.
The boundary line of China stretches 4,060 kms in Yunnan.
About 94 per cent of the province is mountainous area.
In short, Yunnan is a mountainous frontier province
with many ethnic groups.
the extension of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau,Yunnan has an inte-resting
geological structure. The Himalayan orogenic movement pushed up
the "Roof of the World" from the ocean floor, forming
several north-south mountain ranges and deep valleys. The Yunling,
Nushan and Gaoligong mountains are narrow and precipitous. The Jinsha,
Lancang and Nujiang rivers flow through the province. Between the
Lancang and Jinsha rivers,is the sour-ce of the Yuanjiang River.
The rivers roar and peaks tower over the valleys. The world-famous
Nujiang Valley is found here. The valley extends from northwest
to southeast like a fan, which cuts the Yunnan topography into two
sections:the east-ern section is the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau with
an average elevation of 2,000 meters and many small lakes;the western
section is filled with mountai-ns, rivers and valleys.From peaks
to river valleys is usually a sheer drop, which creates a rugged
terrain.The important water systems in southeast Asia are concentrated
here, including the Jinsha, Nanpan, Lancang-Mekong, Nujiang-Salween,
Yuanjiang-Honghe, Dulong-Irrawaddy rivers. All of them are important
passages between China and southeast and south Asia.
At the same latitude on the earth,
there are the vast expanse of the scorching Sahara Desert,
the tropical Hawaiian Islands and the Indian Plain.
The complex geographical conditions give Yunnan a very
varied climate. The province descends like a ladder
from north to south, a distance of about 900 km as the
crow flies. The highest point in the north is the Kagebo
Peak in Deqin County on the Deqin Plateau, which is
about 6,740 meters high; and the lowest is in the Honghe
River Valley in Hekou County, with an elevation of 76.4
meters. The terrain descends six meters every kilometer
towards the south. The temperature difference between
eight latitude degrees is the same as that from southern
Hainan Island to northeastern Changchun in China. Therefore,we
find not only glaciers and snow-capped mountains with
alpine vegetation at the lowest latitude, but also sub-tropical
basins, blazing hot valleys and lush tropical vegetation
at the highest. It is hard to believe that ascending
one kilometer vertically means a climatic change by
travelling 1,400 to 2,500 kilometers from thesouth to
the north of China. While the mountain peaks are always
covered with ice and snow; half way up you will enjoy
pleasant weather; and at the bottom of the valley the
weather is very hot. On one mountain,you can enjoy natural
scenery and color-ful folk customs from alpine to tropical
like to call Yunnan the province of "perpetual spring".
If you do not come to Yunnan yourself, however, you will never know
what we mean by "four seasons on one mountain and a changing
climate within a small area". Because of its abundant natural
resources, Yunnan enjoys the reputation of the "kingdom of
flora and fauna", "kingdom of nonferrous metals","kingdom
of medicinal herbs", "natural garden", "hometown
of perfumes" and is a popular area for tourism. Since remote
antiquity, Yunnan has been inhabited. About 500 million years ago,duing
the Cambrian Period, the earth experienced a big explosion,leaving
some traces in the Maotian Mountain in Chengjiang County, central
Yunnan.The ancient animal fossils found in Chengjiang were first
announced to the publ-ic in 1984 by a paleontologist. This was one
of the most amazing scientific discoveries in paleontology in the
20th century. They are dated as being between the Australian "animal
fossils" and Canadian "animal
fossils".It has been designated as one of the "three
wonders of early evolution on earth" and has been
put on the World Cultural Heritage List.
In the Mesozoic Era, gigantic dinosaurs
could be found strolling among the tropical and sub-tropical
plants in marshlands and forests. One day in the Cretaceous
Period, all of these herbivores disappeared mysteriously.
Tens of thousands of years later, people found their
fossils under the stratum of Lufeng County in central
Yunnan.In Jinning, beside Dianchi Lake, there are also
200 dinosaurs footprints left in the Juras-sic Period.
is one of the birth places of mankind. Between 10 and 15 million
years ago, a kind of ape man came down from the trees to the ground,
leaving traces from Yuanmou in central Yunnan to Kaiyuan in southern
Yunnan. Between 1956 to 1957, fossils of "Lama Ape Man"
were discovered in the coal layers at Xiaolongtan, Kaiyuan. They
are the earliest example of man in the Chinese geologic age. Later,
scientists found a fossil of "Yuanmou Xiaohe Ancient Ape",
which has more characteristics of modern man.In May 1965, paleoanthropologists
discovered the fossil of "Yuan-mou Ape Man", the ancestor
of the Chinese people, who lived more than 1.7 million years ago.
During the long Paleolithic Age, Yunnan became more prosperous.
Early Homo Sapiens lived in Zhaotong, and in later stages they lived
in Lijiang,Kunming,Xichou, Pupiao and Yaoguan. With the coming of
the Neolithic Age, many nationalities and tribes lived together
on this vast land stretching from northeastern Yunnan to theLancang
River Valley, from the middle and upper reaches of theJinsha River
to the Erhai and Dianchi lakes. They created diversified folk traditions
and strong inter-relationships. Yunnan is also an important passage
for migration between different tribes. People could move freely
and seek their ideal place to live. They travelled far greater distances
and shared cultural exchanges far more widely than we can imagine.
In this ancient corridor there lived many different peoples, including
the Baipu, aiyue, Miao, Yao, Di and Qiang ethnic tribes. They pushed
foreward human civilization along the ancient rivers.
Entering Yunnan, you will find the
colorful plateau culture.Enter-ing Yunnan, you will
experience the rich ancient human civilization.
Yunnan is like a book, with
its famous ancient cities of historic and cultural significance
as different chapters, in which thousands of years of
vicissitudes have been recorded.