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Sichuan
Chengdu Jiuzhaigou

Geographic location
  Sichuan, in China's western hinterland, covers most of the Sichuan Basin. Surrounded by mountains, it has a mild climate. Sichuan covers a vast area of 485,000 square km, accounting for 5.1% of China's total area.

Elevation extremes: Sichuan is high in the west and low in the east in terms of its topography. Generally speaking, the west are plateaus and mountainous regions some 4,000 meters above the sea level while the east are the basin and hilly land with an elevation between 1,000 and 3,000 meters. The Sichuan Basin, covering an area of 165,000 square km, is one of the four largest basins in China. The elevation within the basin is between 200 and 750 meters, sloping down from north to south.

Natural resources: The reserves of hydropower resources in Sichuan come to 150 million kw, second only to Tibet, and the exploitable potential is over 100 million kw, more than any other area in China.

Sichuan boasts of 132 verified mineral resources. It leads the country in reserves of vanadium, titanium, calcium, mirabilite, fluorite, natural gas, and sulfur iron, and leads the world in reserves of titanium. Its reserves of vanadium ranks third in the world.

The pleasant climate provides a favorable environment for plants and animals. The forests cover a total area of 7.46 million hectares. Sichuan is home to one-fifth of the country¡¯s dawn redwoods and Cathaya argyrophylla, two species so old they are regarded as living fossils. It is also rich in animal resources. There are over 1,000 kinds of vertebrates, accounting for 40% of the country. Among them are 55 kinds of rare animals. The well-known giant pandas inhabit mainly in 36 counties and natural reserves of four mountain ranges within the territory of Sichuan.

Sichuan has three World Cultural and Natural heritages: the Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area, the Huanglong Scenic Area, and Emei Mountain with the Leshan Giant Buddha; nine state-class scenic areas, including the Dujiangyan Irrigation System, Qingcheng Mountain, the Sea of Bamboo in southern Sichuan; 11 national forest parks; 40 nature reserves, 44 provincial-class scenic areas. Almost every variety of tourist resources is available here: plateaus, mountains, ravines, basins, hills, plains, rivers, lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, limestone caves, and even danxia (red bed) formation.

Environment and current issues: At present, Sichuan faces a grim situation with regard to its ecological environment. Soil erosion in the province approximates 200,000 square km, which accounts for 41 percent of provincial land. About 2.8 million hectares of barren mountains suitable for afforestation, 951,300 hectares of desiccated land and 666,700 hectares of arable land on steep hills are awaiting to be treated by the province.
Population:
86.396 million (at the end of 2001)

Ethnicity:

In addition to its majority, the Han people, Sichuan is also inhabited by many ethnic groups including 13 with at least 5,000 people each: the Yi, Tibetan, Qiang, Hui, Mongolian, Lisu, Manchu, Naxi, Bai, Bouyei, Dai, Miao and Tujia.

Sichuan has China¡¯s second-largest Tibetan region as well as the largest region inhabited by the Yi ethnic group and the only region where the Qiang people live in homogeneous communities. The Yi ethnic group, with the largest population of any minority in Sichuan, lives in the Greater and Lesser Liangshan mountains and the Anning River Valley. The Tibetans live in the Garze and Ngawa Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures and the Muli Tibetan Autonomous County in Liangshan Prefecture. The Qiang people, one of China¡¯s oldest ethnic groups, live mainly in Maoxian, Wenchuan, Heishui, Songpan and Beichuan on the upper reaches of the Minjiang River.

Education:

Currently, Sichuan has 43 regular institutes of higher learning with 236,000 registered students in 2000; 209 secondary vocational schools with some 257,000 enrolled students; 4,375 regular middle schools with some 3.37 million enrolled students; and 45,133 primary schools with some 8.27 million enrolled students. Five universities including Sichuan University, Southwest Jiaotong University and the University of Electronic Science and Technology were constructed under the state's 211 Project. Areas with 89.2 percent of the province's population have adopted nine-year compulsory education. The attendance rate of primary school-age children has reached 99.41 percent and that of middle school-age children, 75 percent. The attendance rate of disabled children, including those with incomplete limbs and mental retardation, the blind, deaf and mute, has reached 75 percent.

GDP: 442.18 billion yuan in 2001 (US$53.4 billion)

GDP growth rate: 9.2%

GDP ratio (1st, 2nd and tertiary industries): In 2001, the added value of the first industry increased by 2.4%, that of the second industry increased by 12.3% and the tertiary industry by 10.2%.

Revenues: 27.1 billion yuan (US$3.27 billion) in 2001

Industrial output value and growth rate:

The industrial added value increased by 12.5%. The net profits totaled 8.5 billion yuan (US$1.03 billion), up by 18.2% than the previous year.

Agricultural output value and growth rate:

Sichuan was one of the first areas to experiment with the rural economic restructuring that started in 1978. Among farm produce, the yield of grain, oil-bearing crops, cotton and meat rank in the top 10 of the country. The output value of the animal husbandry accounted for 44% of the total agricultural output value. The per capita net income of farmers reached 1,987 yuan (US$240) in 2001.

Foreign trade: The volume of export was US$1.58 billion in 2001.

Foreign investment:

Located in the hinterland China though, Sichuan has established close links with the rest of the world. Foreign investment has been fully utilized in the fields to be given special support, such as comprehensive agricultural development, reforms of state-owned enterprises, construction of infrastructure facilities, hi-tech projects, and tourism. In 2001, a total of US$1.11 overseas funds were actually used, up by 14.5% from the previous year.

Over 73 international consortiums and large corporations, including Motorola, Pepsi Cola, Coca Cola, and McDonnell Douglas of the United States; Chit Tat of Thailand; Bayer and Siemens of Germany; and Toyota and Mitsubishi of Japan, have started operations in Sichuan.

Pillar industries:

Electronics information industry, hydropower, machinery, metallurgy, medicine, chemicals, food and beverage, and tourism.

Railways: Five trunk lines including the Chengdu-Chongqing Railway, Chengdu-Kunming Railway and Baoji-Chengdu Railway, eight feeders and four local railway lines, with the mileage open to traffic reaching 2,693 km.

Highways: The mileage of highways has reached 89,000 km, 1,152 km of it being expressways. The Chengdu-Chongqing Expressway, the first expressway built on hilly land in China, opened to traffic in 1995. The Chengdu-Mianyang Expressway, the first expressway jointly funded by Chinese and foreign investment in Sichuan, opened to traffic in 1998.

Airports: Chengdu Shuangliu Airport has become one of the busiest international airport in China. Another five civil airports at Dachuan, Yibin, Luzhou, Xichuang and Nanchong have also been open to traffic. At present, a total of 16 aviation companies are using the Shauangliu Airport, offering some 140 air lines to domestic and overseas cities.

Waterways: The Yangtze River running through the province joins the other rivers including Minjiang and Jinsha to form a natural water transportation network in the province. Leshan, Yibin and Luozhou are the major cities on the trunk waterways




Chengdu
Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province, is situated at the central part of Chengdu Plain. It's the most important political, economic and educational center of Sichuan Province as well in Southwest China. In addition, Chengdu serves as an important transportation hub in Southwest China, and is known for its historical and cultural heritages

Chengdu is often referred to as "the Country of Heaven" or "the Land of Abundance", owing to its location on the fertile Chengdu Plain.

The total area that Chengdu local government administers is about 12,390 sq km, among which the city center covers about 598 sq km. Chengdu is about 500 meters above the sea level. Chengdu has a population of 11.12 million by 2007, 60,538 of which are minorities.

Chengdu's city area survived the 8.0 magnitude Wenchuan Earthquake on May 12, 2008, but Dujiangyan and Pengzhou, two suburban cities of Chengdu, suffered over 4000 casualties and some major property damages. Chengdu is about 48 miles from the epicenter.

Attractions in Chengdu include Baoguang Temple, Dujiangyan Irrigation System, Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Center, Mount Qingcheng, Wuhou Memorial Temple. Other well-known attractions in nearby areas are Huanglong Scenic Area, Jiuzhaigou Valley, and Mount Emei.

Natural & Geographic Situation
Chengdu is situated in the middle of Sichuan Province, the West Sichuan Plain.Covering an area of 12390 sq km, it is 192 km long from east to west and 166 km wide from south to north. Up to the year 2000, the city zone of Chengdu is 208 sq km. Chengdu is adjacent to Deyang City in the northwest, Ziyang District in the southeast, Meishan District in the south, Ya'an District in southwest and Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in the northwest. Chengdu belongs to inland zone. It is 1,600 km away from the East China Sea and 1,090 km from the South China Sea

Topographic Features
The geology of Chengdu has a long history and the stratigraphic exposure is relatively complete. The hypsography of Chengdu slants gradually from northwest to southeast. Characterized by hills and gullies is the western peripheral area of Sichuan Basin, which is 1,000 -3,000 above the sea level. The highest part is Shuanghe (Twin rivers) located in Dayi county with an altitude of 5,364 meters and a relative altitude of 1000 meters. At the bottom of Sichuan basin is the eastern part of Chengdu, forming the heartland of Chengdu plain. It is mainly composed of alluvion plains, mesas and part of low hills, where there the land is profound and fertile. The lowest part of the basin is only 387 meters, which located in Yutai, Jintang County. Due to the great difference of 4,977 meters on altitude between the east and the west of Chengdu, the moisture and heat distribution varies quite remarkably. As a result, in the mountainous areas of the west areas, the temperatures of air, water and land are much lower than that of the eastern plain. Moreover, even in the same mountain, the vertical distributions of different climatic zones occur. As a result, large varieties of vegetations grow in profusion, which provides favorable conditions for the development of agriculture and tourism for Chengdu.

Climate
Located in the bordering areas of the Sichuan northwest highland and Sichuan basin, Chengdu has its own climatic features. First, the eastern part of the city is different from western part in climatic zone, due to the abrupt change of the height from the east to the west. In Chengdu, generally speaking, the west is cool while the east is warm at the same time. Even in the same mountain, the foot of hill is several degrees higher in temperature than that on the top of the hill. This dramatic change in temperature is favorable for the agricultural development. Second, the winter in Chengdu is short, with a long frost-free period of over 337 days each year. The annual average temperature is around 16.4 degree. Even in the cold January, the average temperature is some 5 degrees. It rarely snows. Compared with other areas of the Changjiang River, it is 2-3 degrees higher. Third, there is not much precipitation in winter and spring while it is affluent in summer and autumn with the total precipitation volume of 1,124 centimeters. And this figure is comparatively stable, the ratio of the year with most rainfall and the year with least precipitation being 2:1. Fourth, the climatic elements of light, water and heat almost occur in the same season, which is a very favorable combination to the growth and propagation of the vegetation. Fifth, the wind speed is low. On the plain and in the mountainous areas, the normal speed of wind is around 1 to 1.5 meters per minute. The total sunshine hours average 1,042 to 1412 each year.

Culture of Chengdu
Owing to their wisdom, diligence and creativity from ancient time to present, Chengdu people have been creating uncountable "Firsts" in the fields of economy, science and technology, and on human culture, which include First in Sichuan, First in China and First in the world. These "Firsts" have brought up this historical and cultural city and endowed Chengdu permanent enchantment and charming demeanor. One of the "Firsts" in the world created by Chengdu people is Dujiangyan Irrigation System: Dujiangyan Irrigation System was built around 250 B.C. and it has been benefiting Chengdu people for so long a time as 2000 years. It is the first in the world. In the year of 61 B.C, people drilled a deep well to tap natural gas in Linqiong (a city under Chengdu's jurisdiction) and the gas was used in salt making, cooking and lighting. Chengdu Shu Brocade, also named "Brocade Satin", was the earliest brocade silk in the world. The foot-driven loom invented in Chengdu in the Eastern Han Dynasty (202 B.C. - 220 B.C.) was the most advanced in the world at that time. Up to Han Dynasty, Chengdu became the world`s lacquer product center and the birthplace of tea culture. In Tang Dynasty, for the first time, engraving printing was invented and widely used in Chengdu. The "Tuoluoni`s Scripture and Incantation of Bian Family, the remnant pages of Diamond Sutra of Guo Family in west Sichuan, the remnant pages of the Fan Family history in Chengdu are the earliest existing presswork in the world. In Northern Song Dynasty (960 B.C.-1126 B.C.), merchants of Chengdu jointly issued the earliest paper money in the world, which was called Jiaozi at that time. The local government set up Office of Jiaozi, which was the earliest administrative and savings bank. Now lets talk about the Firsts in Chinese history created by Chengdu people.

In 250 B.C, Libing used stone dolls to measure the water level of Dujiangyan, which was the earliest water gauge in the world. In 141 B.C, Wenweng, satrap of Shu Prefecture, for the first time in China, established a school run by the local official named "Wenwong Stone House" in Chengdu. In Western Han Dynasty (202 B.C.- 8 A.D.), Sima Xiangru, Mei Cheng, Jia Yi, Yang Xiong and Wang Bao laid the foundations of Hanfu (ode in Han Dynasty ). Meng Chang, emperor of Latter Shu Kingdom (943 A.D. - 965 A.D.), wrote the first spring festival scrolls in China, the content of which it that at the end of an abundant year, people welcome with great passion the remaining days of this year, and at the joyous festival, people shout and jump for the upcoming spring. Before 355 A.D, Chang Qu compiled the "Chronicles of Huayuan", the earliest existing chorography in China. "Midst Flowers" - the first collection of poems in the history of Chinese literature was compiled by Zhao Chongzuo during the reign of the Latter Shu Kingdom. In 1082 A.D, the earliest pharmacopoeia of China was composed by the famous doctor Tang Shenwei in Chengdu.

Lacquer, also known as halogen lacquer, is an ornate flower of craft arts of Sichuan through the long history. Sichuan lacquer includes mainly craft lacquer and lacquer painting. The main techniques applied by the lacquer are carving and filling with colors and various material such as bamboo, wood, metal, figures mounted with shells, bones, stones and eggshells, which endow Sichuan lacquer with unique style, strong local flavor and aesthetic value.

Sichuan is famous for raw lacquer, and Sichuan lacquers are famous art wares. As early as 2000 years ago, Sichuan lacquer had the virtues of shining and bright, and they were free of cleft, deformation and rot, which have been fully approved by the unearthed cultural relics.

Up to Han Dynasty, Sichuan lacquer had been very popular in central China. The categories of Sichuan lacquer vary from boxes to dressing cases, to plates, to cups with handle, to flat pot, to desk, to coiling blocks and so on. Figures of bird, animals and supernatural beings were subtly painted on the lacquers. Modern lacquer inherits the tradition, and at the same time, it is making great innovation and the innovations are especially unique on the carving and filling with colors, the colored drawing, the embossed lacquer. These lacquers are not only used as daily appliances such as plates, jars, boxes, pots, bowls, tea sets, drinking vessels and sets, but also used as furnishings such as vase, folding screen, desk screen and wall screen.

There are great varieties of Sichuan lacquers such as wood base, flax base, paper base, plastic base and so on. These lacquers have attractive and quaint appearance. Surface of them are as transparent as water and as bright as mirror. The most outstanding feature of Sichuan lacquer is carving & filling in colors.

Embroidery, brocade, lacquer and bullion appliances, especially Chengdu lacquer, are known as the "Four Treasures" of traditional Sichuan craft art articles. With 2300-year history and the unique style of exquisite handcraft and perfect craftsmanship of the carving & filling with colors, Chengdu lacquer is national present to foreign leaders, and is also considered as treasures by collectors. Because of high costs, too long processing time, debts and management problems, the production of Chengdu Lacquer Factory had to quit.

Sichuan lacquer has a refined, pretty and implicit surface, profound and plain pigmentation, and the rich and colorful ornamental techniques.

As a representative genre of drama in Sichuan Province, Sichuan Opera enjoys good popularity among some areas in Sichuan and Yunnan Province. Sichuan Opera has a rich list of plays, just as the saying says: "3000 plays from Tang Dynasty, 800 from Song Dynasty and uncountable from the Three-Kingdoms period". The performance of Sichuan Opera is not only lifelike and exquisite, but also humorous. It has strong life flavor, and on the other hand, has systemic and perfect pattern such as "Changing Face", "Spitting Out Fire", "Hiding Knives" and so on, which are perfectly integrated with the plot of the play, the character and mood of the roles. Sichuan Lantern Drama, called "Chuandiao" (to the effect of Sichuan Melody) by Sichuan people, also named "Lantern Alt", "Old Lantern Melody", "Lantern Sentence", is a kind of local playlet developed from Sichuan folk songs, folk music, folk dance and especially the lantern songs and dance. Sichuan Surd also named "Singing Yu-Kin" or "Singing Lute", was developed on the basis of the combination of the folk canzonet, various Talking & Singing music and opera music in the Ming and Qing Dynasty. Sichuan Folk Art Opera is also called Sichuan Guang Opera, for it was developed from the Sichuan Folk Art, by applying Sichuan dulcimer, Sichuan Surd and other folk art aria forms. Sichuan Story-telling is a kind of folk art. The orator tells stories in Sichuan dialect and inserts his comments from time to time. The stories are adapted from historical stories. Sichuan Chedeng (a form of folk song and dance) is a kind of Sichuan folk art. In the opera, one or more persons singing and dancing festively and the stage lines are all verses. Sichuan Jinqian belongs to Sichuan folk art category. The performer talks and sings, to the accompaniment of the sound made by the two ferulas in his left hand and the one in the right hand. So it is also called "Daliansan" or "Sancaiban". Sichuan "Zhuqin" belongs to Sichuan Folk Art category, too. It has an old name "Daoqing". Now people call it "Yugu Daoqin" (a kind of percussion instrument made of bamboo), for the musical instruments Yugu used to accompany the performance are made of bamboo. The performer talks and sings, playing an accompaniment to his performance with the Yugu in one hand and a piece of bamboo in the other hand



Jiuzhaigou

Lying on the highest tableland in the world between the Sichuan Basin and the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Jiuzhaigou Valley covers altitudes ranging from 2,000 meters (656,168 feet) to about 4,300 meters (14,107,612 feet). With its large number of lake groups, waterfalls and rich variety of endangered plants and fauna, Jiuzhaigou was awarded the status of UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve in 1997 and was also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. The reserve has received a string of other titles including that of a National Geological Park, a AAAA Class Scenic Spot in China and a Green Globe 21.

With some of the most beautiful and inspiring scenery on earth and some of the reserves scenic spots considered holy by the local Tibetan and Qiang people, it is no wonder a number of mysterious legends surround the wonderful landscape of Jiuzhaigou. Many people are drawn to the area for these reasons, and with the park open all year round the authorities have ensured that the fragile environment is sufficiently protected with a range of comprehensive tourist facilities

In previous years it had been difficult for visitors to get to Jiuzhaigou due to its isolated location, however this is no longer a concern due to the construction of the Jiuzhaigou Ring Way which links the reserve with Chengdu and the Jiuhuang Airport, and has made gaining access to the park a great deal easier. Today most visitors transfer at Chengdu onto long-distance buses or flights going to Jiuzhaigou. The route on the ring way passes through a number of attractions and is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery, providing many a distraction for anyone making the journey. The route offers opportunities to enjoy the great Dujiangyan Irrigation Project, the beautiful Mt.Siguniangshan (Four Maiden's Mountain) Scenic Area and another of the world's most naturally stunning locations - the Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area.

Historically, Jiuzhaigou has been home to small population of Tibetan and Qing people, and provides a good opportunity to get to know more about the locals' unique life and culture. The highlight of any trip to these areas are special performances laid on by the Tibetan and Qiang people which are also a popular form of nightlife in Jiuzhaigou. Moreover, trying some of the typical local foods and picking up a number of the reasonably-priced, locally-produced goods of the Tibetan and Qiang groups are something of a must on your trip.

Jiuzhaigou has been blessed with some of the most captivating landscapes on earth. The stunning, multi-tiered waterfalls, bright lakes, and views of snow-capped mountains, for which words simply do not do it justice, and so you are encouraged to visit at the earliest opportunity



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