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