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
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.
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 zones.
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