Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture is situated in the
southern-most tip of Yunnan Province, and is contiguous to
Burma and Laos. It is 733 km. from Kunming. With a total area
of 19,185 square km., it has a population of 820,000 people,
including the Dai, Hani, Lahu, Bulang, Jinuo, Yao, Yi, and
some other nationalities. The population of the Dai people
accounts for 34.9% of the total. The composition of the population
is like this: the Dai people, the peoples of other minority
nationalities and the Han people each occupy one third of
the total population respectively. Some of the minority nationalities
living on this side of the national boundary line belong to
the same nationalities as the people living on the other side
of the boundary line. They live harmoniously together, and
are on very friendly terms, often coming and going across
the boundary line in their daily activities. The prefecture
seat is in Jinghong County (known as Yunjinghong among the
In the Dai language, "Xi"
means ten, "shuang" two, "Ban"
one thousand, and "Na" paddy fields.
Xishuangbanna therefore means "Twelve districts
of one thousand mu of paddy fields each".
It is the general name given to twelve administrative
bodies under twelve chieftains in the old days.
Yunjinghong is a term in the Dai language, meaning
"The Daybreak City". The Dai calendar
started from 638 AD. So, as for the Dai calendar,
2000 is 1362.
Far back in the Western Han
Dynasty, Xishuangbanna was already a part of Yizhoujun
Prefecture. In the 12th year of the Yongping era
of the Eastern Han Dynasty (A.D. 69) it was incorporated
into Yongchangjun. During the Tang and Song Dynasties
it was under the jurisdiction of Nanzhao and Dali
Kingdoms respectively. After the conquest of Dali
Kingdom by the Yuan Emperor, Yunnan was made a
province, and a system of governing the border
areas by the local chieftains was instituted,
and the hereditary chieftains were given comparatively
greater authoritative power. In the 15th year
of the Hongwu era of the Ming dynasty (1382),
the ninth-generation Great Chieftain, or zhaopianling
in the Dai language, called Zhao Kanmeng (literal
translation of the Dai language meaning the highest
feudal lord of xishuangbanna) pledged allegiance
to the Ming Royal Court. In the 4th year of the
Longqing era of the Ming Dynasty, the Pacification
Commissioner divided the domain of the feudal
lord into twelve "Bannas", and from
then on this place has been called xishuangbanna.
The Qing emperors inherited the Ming system without
any change. Early in the Yuan Dynasty, the Great
Local Chieftain with the family name Dao was appointed
"the Pacification Commissioner of Cheli"
(the old name of Yunjingbong) by the Yuan royal
court, who thus became the hereditary supreme
feudal lord and ruler of xishuangbanna, and whose
descendants had inherited the title for 4 generations
through the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. It
was not until the liberation of Xishuangbanna
in February 1950 that peoples of the various nationalities
had really become the masters of this beautiful
and affluent land.
Xishuangbanna is situated on
the northern edge of the tropical zone. It is
endowed with sufficient sunshine and is usually
windless and very warm, with heavy dews and fogs
and plenty of rainfall. It is not influenced by
the typhoon from the Pacific Ocean, and belongs
to the tropical forest type of climate. The plains
and river valleys with an elevation of less than
800 m. belong to the tropical monsoon climate
type and those places with an elevation of over
800 m. to the subtropical monsoon climate type.
The annual mean temperature of the whole prefecture
is 21 Centigrade. it is frost free all the year
round, and there has never been snowfall in its
history. The yearly rainfall ranges between 1,200
to 1,900 mm., and yearly foggy days amount to
108 to 146 days.
is extremely rich in natural resources. There are a few million
mu of virgin forest, and the species of tropical trees number
more than 5,000. The forest coverage is 34%, in which there
are about 40 species of fast growing precious trees, more
than 500 species of medicinal plants and herbs, and about
160 species of oil-bearing plants yielding edible oil and
oil for industrial use. Rare and precious plants include fast
growing "tuanhua" tree, Catalpa Ovata that is precious plants
include fast growing "tuanhua" tree, Catalpa ovata that is
humid resistant and immune from blight caused by insects and
ants, Parashorea chinensis that is highly esteemed as a rare
timber for industrial use, black Dalbergia hupeana that is
extremely hard and strong, Maytenus hookeri and Gloriosa superba
used for the treatment of cancer, Rauwolfia verticillata for
the treatment of hypertension, the aromatic stomachic A. longiligulare,
the main ingredient in the astringent "xuejie" in Chinese
medicine D. cambodiana, the stomachic and anthracene purgative
Areca catechu. The oil-bearing woody plant Horsfieldia tetratepala
yields oil that forms a special additive for lubricants used
in tanks, motor car engines and petroleum drilling machines
to raise the viscosity and lower the freezing point when operating
in severely cold and alpine regions. The oil produced by the
"little tong" tree can be used as a substitute for diesel
oil. The oil distilled from the flower of Can anga odorata,
praised as the "king of flowers", is a valuable ingredient
in the manufacturing of high class perfumes, Xishuangbanna
is also the second largest base of natural rubber trees in
China, and the homeland of the world famous 'Pu'er" tea. Besides,
this place also produces a great variety of tropical fruit,
flowers and ornamental plants.
The tropical rain forest of
Xishuangbanna provides favorable environments
for the growth and propagation of various kinds
of wild animals. There are 18 orders, 56 families,
210 genera and 399 species of birds, and 8 orders,
28 families, 47 genera and 67 species of animals.
The species of birds account for 33.8% of the
total species of birds of the country, and the
species of animals 16% of the country's total.
In addition there are more than a hundred species
of fishes, including the rare and precious "Yinyu"
and "Yingyu". Xishuangbanna is also
a natural zoo where live many very rare and precious
species, such as wild elephants, wild oxen (bison),
tigers, leopards, peacocks, hornbills, gibbons,
golden- haired monkey, slow lories, and big-spotted
The five patches of rain forest
at Mengyang, Menglun, Mengla, Shangyong and Menggao
of Xishuangbanna, totaling 3 million mu (200,000
hectares), belong to a national nature reserve.
In the reserve are found rare and precious animals
and birds such as wild elephants, wild oxen, gibbons,
peacocks, etc., which are all listed as animals
and birds under state protection.
Xishuangbanna is also rich in
mineral resources. The noted ones are rock salt,
iron, copper, manganese, cobalt, rare earth ores,
oil shale, aluminium, zinc, tin, mercury, saltpetre,
tungsten, gold, antimony, lignite and so on. 149
mineral water resources have also been discovered.
In agriculture the principal produce of the place
is grain, including mainly paddy rice, upland
rice, corn, and soybean. Next come wheat, Chinese
sorghum, potato, sweet potato, pea, and broad
bean. Most of these agricultural produce yield
two crops every year. The place is therefore reputed
as the "Granary of South Yunnan". Economic
crops include mainly sugarcane and oil bearers.
Lancang River (also Mekong River)
has a flow of 1187.5 kilometers in Xishuangbanna.
Currently, the water tour voyage is divided into
the upper and lower sections. The upper section
is 135 kilometers long, from Jinghong to Tiger
Leaping Gorge while the lower section is 40 kilometers
in length, from Jinghong to Olive Dam. The lower
section attracts more tourists at present. Visitors
will be enchanted by the tropical rain forest,
primeval forest and animals along the two banks
of the river, especially by the incredible "
Sky Garden ", " Blossoms in Old Stems
", " Plant Killer ", " Root
Plant " and " One Tree Forest ".
The Olive Basin, with a reputation of the "
Peacock Plumes " and the " Tail of Green
Peacock ", is regarded as the symbol of Xishuanghanna.
It is said that " the trip to Xishuanghanna
is a fruitless one without visiting the Olive
Xishuangbanna is one of the
key scenic resorts of the country. Points of interest
are scattered in many locations of the prefecture,
all with distinctive features. With the virgin
tropical rain forests, rare and precious ornamental
plants and wild animals combined with the multifarious
peculiar national customs and habits of the people,
together with their distinctive residential buildings
and garden-like surroundings, the place presents
a typically beautiful view of the southern country,
and has always been a cherished tourist resort
for visitors at home and abroad.