Yunnan, China



Yunnan (/jʊnˈnæn/, -/ˈnɑːn/) is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country. It spans approximately 394,000 square kilometres (152,000 sq mi) and has a population of 45.7 million (2009). The capital of the province is Kunming, formerly also known as Yunnan. The province borders Vietnam, Laos and Burma.

Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with high elevations in the northwest and low elevations in the southeast. Most of the population lives in the eastern part of the province. In the west, the altitude can vary from the mountain peaks to river valleys as much as 3,000 metres (9,800 ft). Yunnan is rich in natural resources and has the largest diversity of plant life in China. Of the approximately 30,000 species of higher plants in China, Yunnan has perhaps 17,000 or more.[5] Yunnan's reserves of aluminium, lead, zinc and tin are the largest in China, and there are also major reserves of copper and nickel.

The Han Empire first recorded diplomatic relations with the province at the end of the 2nd century BC. It became the seat of a Tibeto-Burman-speaking kingdom of Nanzhao in the 8th century AD. Nanzhao was multi-ethnic, but the elite most likely spoke a northern dialect of Yi. The Mongols conquered the region in the 13th century, with local control exercised by warlords until the 1930s. As with other parts of China's southwest, Japanese occupation in the north during World War II forced a migration of majority Han people into the region. Ethnic minorities in Yunnan account for about 34 percent of its total population. Major ethnic groups include Yi, Bai, Hani, Zhuang, Dai and Miao.

Yunnan's cultural life is one of remarkable diversity. Archaeological findings have unearthed sacred burial structures holding elegant bronzes in Jinning, south of Kunming. In Zhaotong in northeastern Yunnan, there has been discovered, frescos of the Jin Dynasty (265–420). Many Chinese cultural relics have been discovered in later periods. The lineage of tribal way of life of the indigenous peoples persisted uninfluenced by modernity until the mid-20th century. Tribal traditions, such as Yi slaveholding and Wa headhunting, have since been abolished. After the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), when many minority culture and religious practices were suppressed, Yunnan has come to celebrate its cultural diversity and subsequently many local customs and festivals have flourished.


Yunnan Province, due to its beautiful landscapes, mild climate and cultural diversity, is one of China's major tourist destinations. Most visitors are Chinese tourists, although trips to Yunnan are organized by an increasing number of foreign travel agencies as well. Mainland tourists travel by the masses; 2.75 million Chinese visited Yunnan last October during National Holiday. Also a different trend is slowly developing; small scale and environmentally friendly ecotourism. At the moment projects in this field are often being set up with help of NGO's.

In 2004, tourism revenues amounted to 37 billion RMB, and thus accounting for 12, 6% of the provincial GDP. Another fact indicating the importance of tourism in Yunnan Province is capital Kunming hosting the China International Travel Mart every two years. This tourism trade fair is the largest of its kind in Asia and serves as an important platform for professionals in the sector. More than 80 countries and regions were present during the 2005 edition.

Tourism is expected to grow further. In 2010, the province welcomed over 2.3 million overseas tourists and the Yunnan Provincial Tourism Bureau aims to draw 4.3 million overseas arrivals under the 12th Five-Year Tourism Development Plan. Kunming city is expected to add 11 new mid- to high-end hotels with an inventory of under 4,000 rooms between 2012 and 2016.[40]

Tourist centres in Yunnan include:

  • Dali, the historic center of the Nanzhao and Dali kingdoms.
  • Chuxiong, the first stop on the way to Dali and Lijiang. Home of the Yi ethnic minority and their respective ancient town.
  • Jinghong, the center and prefectural capital of the Xishuangbanna Dai minority autonomous prefecture.
  • Lijiang, a Naxi minority city. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.
  • Xamgyi'nyilha County (also known as Shangri-La and formerly Zhongdian), an ethnic Tibetan township and county set high in Yunnan's northwestern mountains.
  • Shilin (Stone Forest), a series of karst outcrops east of Kunming.
  • Yuanyang, a Hani minority settlement with vast rice-terraced mountains.
  • Xishuangbanna, a national scenic resort, noted for its natural and cultural attractions.

Places of interest:
  • Black Dragon Pool
  • Baishutai
  • Cangshan
  • Erhai Lake
  • Ganlan Basin
  • Green Lake Park
  • Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
  • Lancang River (Mekong River)
  • Manting Park (Chunhuan Park) in Jinghong
  • Meili Snow Mountain in Deqin
  • Pujian Temple
  • Sanchahe Nature Reserve in Jinghong
  • ShaPing Market, Dali
  • Shaxi
  • Stone Forest
  • Three Pagodas
  • Tengchong (hot springs)
  • Tiger Leaping Gorge
  • Visitor Center for Nature and Culture in Northwest Yunnan
  • Wase markets, near Dali
  • Xishuangbanna Tropical Flower & Plant Garden
  • Yuantong Temple
  • Yunnan Provincial Museum

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