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Sichuan Overview

  Natural Geographic Features of Sichuan Province

  Nestled in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, Sichuan is a province in southwest China. The province ranges in longitude from 92°21′ to 108°12′ E, while its latitude ranges from 26°03′ to 34°19′ N, stretching for 1075km from east to west and 900km south to north. Sichuan borders Chongqing to the east, Yunnan and Guizhou to the south, the Tibet Autonomous Region to the west, and Qinghai, Gansu and Shaanxi to the north. It administers 486,000 km2 of land, ranking the fifth largest province in China next to Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia and Qinghai.

  Due to great differences in terrain, the landscape of Sichuan is highly variable between the east and west. Sichuan stands at the first and second levels of the three major levels of the Chinese mainland terrain, in other words, it situates at the transitional zone between the first level, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and the second level, the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River. It features high altitude at the west and low altitude at the east, with striking differences. The western Sichuan consists of the numerous mountains and plateaus, with an altitude of over 4,000m; the eastern Sichuanconsists of basins and hills, with an altitude ranging from 1000 to 3000m. The province can be divided into three parts: Sichuan Basin, Chuanxibei Plateau and Mountainous Area of Southwest Sichuan.

  The eastern Sichuan Basin is one of the four major basins in China with an area of 165,000 km2. The basin is surrounded by the Qin Mountains to the north, Micang Mountain and Daba Mountain to the east, Dalou Mountain to the south, and Longmen Mountain and Qionglai Mountain to the northwest. It is endowed with a warm and humid climate which is fairly mild in winters and rather cool in summers. Its annual precipitation in most areas ranges from 900 to 1200 mm. It experiences a humid subtropical monsoon climate covered with subtropical evergreenbroad-leaved forests. Its agriculture yields two crops in a year. The western part of the basin is the Western Sichuan Plain, boasting fertile land and serving as the area for gravity irrigation of Dujiangyan with high productivity of land. The central part of the basin is the purple hilly region with an altitude ranging from 400 to 800m, lowering slightly to the south with the Minjiang River, the Tuojiang River, the Fujiang River and the Jialing River flowing southward into the Yangtze River from the northern mountains. The eastern part of the basin is the Paralleled Ridge-Valley of Eastern Sichuan, which consists of Huaying Mountain, Tongluo Mountain and Mingyue Mountain.

  The northwest of the basin is the Chuanxibei Plateau, forming the easternmost part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, at 3,000 to 5,000m above sea level. Covered with meadows, it experiences a plateau climate.

  The southwest of the basin is the northern section of the Hengduan Mountains which feature steep mountains and deep valleys, stretching and alternating from north to south. Those stretches from east to west are Minshan Mountain, Minjiang River, Qionglai Mountain, Dadu River, Daxue Shan, Ya-LungRiver, Shaluli Shan and Jinsha River. The plants of different climates are vertically distributed, mainly consisting of the coniferous forests of the cold zone, mixed broadleaf-conifer forests of the temperate zone, the mixed evergreen-deciduous forests of the northern subtropical zone, and the evergreen broad-leaved forests of the mid-subtropical zone.

  Historical and Geographical Features

  Sichuan Province is referred to as Chuan or Shu. During the Shang and Zhou Dynasties, two nations were established in Sichuan: one was Shu State, located in western Sichuan, established by the Ancient Shu People, and the other was Ba State, located in eastern Sichuan (including Chongqing today), established by the Cuban people. Therefore, the Sichuan area was called "Bashu" in ancient times. In 316 BC, the Qin dynasty annexed the two states, Ba and Shu, and deputed them as Ba and Shu prefecture. In the Han Dynasty, they belonged to Yizhou. In the Tang Dynasty, they belonged to Jiannan Road and the Shannan East and West Roads. In the Song Dynasty, Chuanshan District was set, the other four districts Yi, Xin, Li and Kui were established separately. They were together called Sichuan District, since came the name of Sichuan. In the Yuan Dynasty, Sichuan Executive Secretariat, short for Sichuan Secretariat, was set up. In the Ming Dynasty, the Sichuan Provincial Administration Commission was set up, covering the now Zunyi of Guizhou Province and the northeastern parts of Yun’nan Province and the northwestern parts of Guizhou Province. In the Qing Dynasty, it was renamed Sichuan Province, with the provincial boundaries of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou being greatly reshaped, and the southern provincial boundaries of Sichuan basically determined.

  During the Republic of China, the now western part of Sichuan Province was then called Xikang Province. In 1955, Xikang was governed by Sichuan. In 1997, Sichuan was divided into Chongqing Municipality and Sichuan Province administered by Sichuan and Chongqing respectively. In 2017, Sichuan Province has jurisdiction over 18 cities and 3 ethnic autonomous prefectures.

  Since ancient times, Sichuan has enjoyed the reputation of “the land of abundance”. Endowed with excellent geographical conditions and economic realities, Sichuan has turned to be one of the earliest regions in leading China's economic development. According to archaeological evidence, there are human activities in Sichuan during the Paleolithic period. Around 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, the Chengdu Plain was the origin of the civilization along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. Among them: Guanghan Sanxingdui and Chengdu Jinsha Site represent the political, economic and cultural centers of the ancient Shu Kingdom. Agricultural civilization and urban civilization have risen very early. Historically, Sichuan's agriculture, metallurgy, silk, and construction all enjoyed prosperity.

  Cultural and Geographical Features

  It is endowed with deep roots of civilization. Sichuan had a theocratic civilization in the Xia and Shang dynasties, and from the Western Zhou Dynasty to the Spring and Autumn and Warring States, it had a ritual and music civilization. After Qin Dynasty annexed Ba and Shu, the Bashu civilization gradually transformed into an important regional sub-culture of Qin and Han culture. During the Han and Wei dynasties, Sichuan witnessed the birth of Chinese Taoism. During the Sui and Tang Dynasties, it enjoyed the name of the land of literary prosperity, and saw Buddhism achieving remarkable achievements. The economy and civilization of Sichuan in the Song Dynasty was highly prosperous, with the earliest paper currency “Jiaozi” came into being. Ba and Shu enjoyed highly-developed technologies, including Dujiangyan water conservancy project, planting, salt well, bronze smelting, astronomy, mathematics, medicine and so on.

  Sichuan demonstrates strong local features. Sichuan mainly belongs to the BaShu Cultural District, with self-contained regional culture. Sichuan’s vernacular, opera, tea, liquor, cuisine, brocade, salt, and others all exhibits strong local styles, such as Sichuan dialect, Sichuan opera, Sichuan tea, Sichuan liquor, Sichuan cuisine, Sichuan medicine and silk embroidery, silk brocade, Cultural brands such as Sichuan style bonsai all bear strong local characteristics.

  Sichuan is bestowed with cultural treasures. Sichuan's long history and rich cultural heritage have left numerous precious and rare high-grade culture. By 2017, Sichuan is home to 5 World Heritage Sites, 252 museums, 175 cultural relics protection agencies, 230 national key cultural relics protection units, 969 provincial cultural relics protection units, 6565 city and county level cultural and cultural protection units, and 139 intangible cultural heritages, 522 provincial intangible cultural heritages, 8 Chinese historical and cultural cities, 27 provincial-level historical and cultural cities, 56 provincial-level historical and cultural towns, 15 provincial-level historical and cultural villages, and more than 200 other cultural attractions. E’meishan-Leshan Giant Buddha is listed as world level natural and cultural heritage, Dujiangyan-Qingcheng Mountain as a world cultural heritage, Jiuzhaigou-Huanglong as world's natural heritage. A large number of gold, bronze, jade and pottery unearthed from Guanghan Sanxingdui and Chengdu Jinsha Site are identified as exquisite cultural relics. Among them, the "Sun God Bird" unearthed from the Jinsha site, which symbolizes the pursuit of light, unity and progress, and the spirit of harmony and tolerance, was approved by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage as a "Chinese cultural heritage". Sichuan cuisine ranks among the top four cuisines in China. Wuliangye and other Sichuan liquors are presented at national banquets, and famous teas such as Zhuyeqing, Mengding Tea and EmeiMaofeng are well-known throughout the country.

  Sichuan is a melting pot of diverse cultures. Although Sichuan has the intrinsic side effects of agricultural civilization, for its culture is somewhat closed and static, still it is open at the same time. In addition to the native Bashu culture and the western Tibetan culture, once you set foot outside the basin, you will encounter the Chu culture, the Qin culture, the Yi culture, the Yelang culture and the Tibetan and Qiang culture areas, which promoted the exchanges of Sichuan with various sides in economy and culture, thus contributing to the formation of a diverse, inclusive and open Bashu culture. Since the reform and opening-up, Sichuan has also absorbed western civilizations of festivity and food.

  Climatic Resources

  The general features of Sichuan’s climate: distinct monsoon climate, with rain and heat coming in the same season; significant regional differences, in the eastern Sichuan, overall, it is cloudy and fogy with warm winter, early spring, hot summer, and rainy autumn, and with less sunshine and long growing season, in the western Sichuan, it is cold with long winter, extremely short summer, abundant sunshine, concentrated precipitation, and distinct clarification between the dry and rainy season; the climate demonstrates vertical changes with many types; there are many types of meteorological disasters, with high frequency of occurrence and large impact, mainly drought, followed by heavy rain, flood and low temperature.
According to the difference between hydrothermal conditions and lighting conditions, Sichuan is divided into three major climate zones.

  Sichuan Basin has a mid-subtropical humid climate with good heat condition, warm and humid during the whole year, with the annual average temperature ranging from 16~18°C, the accumulated temperature being 4000~6000°C, small daily temperature range, large annual difference. It is warm in the winter and hot in the summer, with 230-340 days frost-free period; it is cloudy for most of the time, with a small number of sunny days, short annual sunshine duration with only 1000-1400 hours of annual sunshine, 600-800 hours less compared to the lower reaches of the Yangtze River basin at the same latitude; it has abundant rainfall, with the annual rainfall being 1000-1200 mm, and more than 50% is concentrated in the summer. It is more likely to rain at nights.

  The southwestern Sichuan has a subtropical and semi-humid climate. It has a relatively high annual temperature, with the average annual temperature being 12-20 °C, large daily temperature range, small annual difference. It is cold in the early morning and warm in the noon. There is no marking difference between the four seasons; it has less cloudy days, therefore more sunny days. It has long sunshine duration, with the annual sunshine duration being 2000~ 2,600 hours; it has less precipitation, with clear boundaries between dry and wet seasons, it has 7 months of dry season throughout the year, with an annual precipitation of 900 to 1200 mm, 90% of them is concentrated in May to October; Foehn contributed to the typical dry heat climate of river valleys, a significant stereoscopic climate in the mountains.

  The northwestern Sichuan has an alpine climate. It has large altitude difference, therefore demonstrates distinct climate changes. From the valley to the ridge, there are subtropical, warm temperate, intermediate temperate, cold temperate, sub-frigid, cold and permafrost. Generally, the climate is mainly cold and temperate, the valley is dry and warm, the mountains are cold and wet, with cold winter is and cool summer, the but insufficient water and heat, its annual average temperature is 4-12 °C, and the annual precipitation is 500-900 mm. It has fine weathers and adequate sunshine duration, with the annual sunshine duration being 1600 to 2600 hours.

  Water Resources

  The average annual precipitation in Sichuan is about 488.975 billion cubic meters. Its water resources are the most abundant in rivers with nearly 1,400 large and small rivers in the territory, which is known as the “Province of Thousand Rivers”. The total water resources of Sichuan is about 348.97 billion cubic meters, of which: the average annual natural river runoff is 254.75 billion cubic meters, accounting for 73% of the total water resources; the upstream inflow water is 94.22 billion cubic meters, accounting for 27% of the total water resources, the groundwater resources are 54.69 billion cubic meters and the recoverable amount is 11.5 billion cubic meters. There are more than 1000 lakes and glaciers in the territory. There are more than 200 lakes and more than 200 glaciers. There are swamps in the northwestern Sichuan and southwest Sichuan. The water storage capacity of lakes is about 1.5 billion cubic meters, plus the amount of water stored in the swamp, it totaled 3.5 billion cubic meters.

  The general features of Sichuan water resources: the total amount is abundant, the per capita water resources is higher than the whole country, but the spatial and temporal distribution is uneven, forming regional water shortage and seasonal water shortage; water resources are the most abundant in river runoff, but the season of runoff is uneven distributed, mostly concentrated in June to October, floods and droughts occur occasionally; rivers have twists and turns, which are conducive to agricultural irrigation; natural water quality is good, but some areas are polluted.

  Biological Resources

  Sichuan has a wide variety of wild plant resources, with more than 10,000 species of higher plants, accounting for about one-third of the country's total, second only to Yunnan, ranking the second in the country. Among them: it has more than 500 species of bryophytes, over 1,600 genera of more than 230 families of vascular plants, 708 species of ferns, more than 100 species of gymnosperms (including varieties), over 8,500 species of angiosperms, 87 species of pine, cedar and cypress plants, ranking the first in the country. There are 84 species listed as rare and endangered plants, accounting for 21.6% of the country’s total. There are more than 5,500 kinds of wild economic plants, including more than 4,600 kinds of medicinal plants. The Chinese herbal medicines produced in Sichuan account for 1/3 of the total output of the national medicines. It is the largest Chinese herbal medicine base in the country; it has more than 300 aromatic and aromatic plants. It is the country's largest aromatic oil producing area; there are more than 100 species of wild fruits, among which kiwifruit is the most abundant, ranking the first in the country; 1291 species of wild fungi, accounting for 95% of the country. At the end of the year, Sichuan's forest coverage rate was 38.03%, representing an increase of 1.15 percentage points.

  There are nearly 1,300 species of vertebrates in Sichuan, accounting for more than 45% of the national total. Animals and birds account for 53% of the country’s total, including 217 species of mammals, 625 species of birds, 84 species of reptiles, 90 species of amphibians, and 230 species of fish. The country focuses on protecting 145 species of wild animals, accounting for 39.6% of the country, ranking the highest in the country. According to the Fourth National Giant Panda Survey, the number of wild giant pandas in Sichuan Province is 1,387, accounting for 74.4% of the total number of wild giant pandas in the country, ranking first in the country. More than 50% of the animals in Sichuan are available for economic use, including more than 200 species of animals used for fur, leather and feather, and more than 340 species of animals used for medicine. There are 20 species of cockroaches in Sichuan, accounting for 40% of the national total. Among them, many are rare and endangered mites, such as the national first-class protected animals Chestnut-throated Partridge, Sichuan Partridge and Chinese Impeyan.

  Energy Resources

  Sichuan's energy resources are mainly water, coal and natural gas, with water energy resources accounting for about 75%, coal resources accounting for about 23.5%, and natural gas and oil resources accounting for about 1.5%.

  Theoretically, Sichuan has a reserve of hydropower resources of 143 million kilowatts, accounting for 21.2% of the country, second only to Tibet. Among them: technical available hydropower energy resources are 103 million kilowatts, accounting for 27.2% of the country; economical available hydropower energy resources reached 76.12 million kilowatts, accounting for 31.9% of the country. Technical and economic available hydropower energy resources rank the first in the country, and it is China's largest hydropower development and power transmission base. The hydropower resources are concentrated in the three major river systems of Dadu River, Jinsha River and Yalong River in the southwestern Sichuan Basin, accounting for about two-thirds of Sichuan's hydropower resources. They represent the country's largest hydropower “reservoir”. The amount of technical available hydropower energy resources accounts for more than 79.2% of the theoretical reserves and 80% of Sichuan's technical available hydropower energy resources.

  Sichuan's coal resources are 12.27 billion tons, mainly distributed in southern Sichuan. The south Sichuan coalfields in Luzhou City and Yibin City have accumulated more than 70% of the province's proven reserves. Sichuan's coal includes anthracite, meagre coal, lean coal, bituminous coal, lignite, and peat. Oil and gas resources mainly contain natural gas, while there is a small amount of oil resources. The Sichuan Basin is one of the major oil-bearing basins in China. It has discovered more than 7 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, accounting for about 19% of the country's total natural gas resources. It is mainly distributed in southern Sichuan, northwestern Sichuan, middle Sichuan, and northeastern Sichuan. Sichuan Bioenergy has an annual development and utilization of human and animal feces of 31,485,500 tons, fuelwood of 1,189,300 tons, straw of 42,122,400 tons, and biogas of about 1 billion cubic meters. The abundant solar energy, wind energy and geothermal resources are ready to be developed and utilized.

  Mineral Resources

  Sichuan has a complex geological structure and favorable metallogenic conditions with a complete range of mineral resources, and an ample supply of mineral resources. It is a major province for the production and processing of mineral raw materials in the west and even the whole country. There are 92 kinds of minerals (123 kinds of sub-minerals) with identified resource reserves in Sichuan Province. Among them, 33 kinds of minerals rank the top three in the country. A total of 14 kinds of minerals, including natural gas, vanadium, titanium, carbon dioxide gas, lithium ore (Li20) rank the first in the country's identified resource reserves, and 10 minerals such as iron ore, platinum group metals and rare earth oxides (rare earth oxides) rank the second in the country's identified resource reserves.

  Features of Sichuan’s mineral resources: although it has abundant resources, its per capita occupancy is lower than the national average; it has a complete range of resources, but insufficient reserves of most minerals. In addition to the reserves of vanadium-titanium magnetite, rock salt, mirabilite, lead-zinc, sulfur, iron ore, asbestos, mica, gold, phosphorus, cement limestone, etc., that can meet basic development needs, most mineral resources exhibit insufficient resources and poor quality, and inadequate identified mines. The distribution of large or extra-large deposits is concentrated with distinct regional characteristics, which is conducive to the formation of a comprehensive mineral raw material base. The minerals are concentrated in three districts of southwestern Sichuan (Panxi), southern Sichuan, and northwest Sichuan, each with its own characteristics. The southwestern Sichuan, dominated by black, non-ferrous metals and rare earth resources, equipped with abundant other minerals, is one of China's metallurgical bases. South Sichuan, with abundant reserves of non-metallic minerals, mainly coal, sulfur, phosphorus, rock salt and natural gas, is one of the chemical industrial bases in China. Northwestern Sichuan is rich in rare metals (lithium, thorium, gold, silver) and energy minerals (uranium, peat) and is a potential raw material base for cutting-edge technology products. Its important minerals are mainly lean and low-quality ore, while high-grade iron-ore demonstrates a short supply except for lead, zinc, cadmium, silver, rock salt, and glauberite, others are mostly medium and poor. The symbiosis and associated minerals of the deposit can be comprehensively utilized while increasing the difficulty of the mining and smelting process. For example, the vanadium-titanium magnetite of Panxi is symbiotic with iron, vanadium and titanium, the coal mine of southern Sichuan is coal and sulfur symbiosis, and lithium ore in northwestern Sichuan is a symbiosis of lithium and thorium.

  Tourism Resources

  Sichuan is a major province for tourist attractions with beautiful natural scenery, a long history and civilization, and unique ethnic customs. Itsnumerous tourism resources are characterized by its full range, wide distribution and high grade. The quantity and grade of tourism resources are among the best in the country.

  It has 5 world heritage sites, including 3 World Natural Heritage Sites (Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong, Giant Panda Habitat), 1 World Cultural and Natural Heritage (Emeishan-Leshan Giant Buddha), and 1 World Cultural Heritage (Qingcheng Mountain-Dujiangyan). There are 4 protected areas listed in the world Man and Biosphere Protection Network (Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong, Wolong, DaochengYading). It is home to 5 “Forty Best Chinese Tourism Resorts” (namely Emei Mountain, Jiuzhaigou-Huanglong, Shunan Bamboo Sea, Leshan Giant Buddha, Zigong Dinosaur Museum). Sichuan has established 15 national-level scenic spots, and79 provincial-level scenic spots. By the end of the year, there were 12 scenic spots in Sichuan, ranking the fourth in the country; there are 21 excellent tourist cities in China. There are 167 nature reserves in Sichuan, covering an area of 83,000 square kilometers, accounting for 17.1% of the province's total land area, including 31 national nature reserves. At the end of the year, there were 64 wetland parks in the province, including 29 national wetland parks and 35 provincial wetland parks. There are 137 forest parks in the province, with a total area of 2,324,800 hectares, accounting for 4.78% of the provincial total, including 44 national forest parks, and the total number of forest parks ranks among the top ten in the country. More than 220 geological relics have been discovered, including 3 world-class geological parks and 18 national-level geological parks, ranking the first in the country. There are 8 national historical and cultural cities. There are 252 museums in Sichuan, including 230 national key cultural relics protection units and 969 provincial cultural relics protection units. It is home to 139 national intangible cultural heritages and 522 provincial intangible cultural heritages.

  (Information provided by the Association of Sichuan Yearbook with the content being derived from the 2018 Sichuan Yearbook)

 
 
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