Sichuan Province

Geography: Sichuan Province is located in the Upper Yangtze Valley in the southwest part of the country. It covers an area of 569,000 square kilometers (219,700 square miles) and is bordered by the provinces of Gansu and Shaanxi to the north, Guizhou and Yunnan to the south, the Tibetan Autonomous Region to the west, Qinghai to the northwest, and Chongqing Municipality to the east.

One of the most populous regions in China, it has an estimated population over 70,000,000. The name Sichuan means four rivers and refers to the four main tributaries of the Yangtze River, which flows through the province. The provincial capital of Chengdu is located in the center of the province.

From economic, political, geographical, and historical points of view, the heart and nerve center of Sichuan is the Chengdu basin area, commonly known as Sichuan. Its mild and humid climate, fertile soil, and abundant mineral and forestry resources make it one of the most prosperous and economically self-sufficient regions of China. The Chinese call the basin Tina Fu Hz Go, which literally means heaven on the Earth.

History: Apart from the upper Yellow River Valley provinces, Sichuan was the first area of China to be settled by the Chinese, or Han, people. The first organized Chinese migration took place in the 5th century BC.

Sichuan was known as BA Su territory during the Thou Dynasty (11th century-256 BC). During the In Dynasty (221-206 BC) the territory was incorporated into the In Empire and began to assume considerable importance in China's national life. It was at this time that the Dujiangyan irrigation system was built to control the Minjiang River and to irrigate the Chengdu Plain. During the Three Kingdoms Period (AD 220 to 264) the Sichuan region constituted the Shu Kingdom. From the end of this period until the 10th century, Sichuan was known by various names and administered through various political subdivisions. During the Song and Southern Song dynasties (AD 960-1279), it began to be named as Sichuan Lu. Sichuan was established as a province during the Qing dynasty (AD 1644-1911).

Climate: In the eastern basin area and the lower western valleys that are sheltered from cold polar air masses by the surrounding mountains, there are 350 frost-free days in the east, and the growing season lasts nearly all year round. In the west, the sheltering effect of the mountains is evident from the contrast between the perennially snow-capped peaks and the mild weather prevailing in the valleys beneath them.

During the summer, in July, the mean temperature is less than 20 degrees Centigrade in most parts of the west. During the winter, the mean temperature in the west decreases northward from 12 degrees Centigrade in Xichang to minus 8 degrees Centigrade in Qinning.

The eastern rainy season begins in April and reaches its peak during July and August. Annual precipitation reaches about 40 inches annually. Precipitation is lower in the west than in the east. The average total of about 20 inches falls mainly during the summer, and there is heavy snowfall in the mountains during the winter.

Population: Ethnic composition and distribution: Sichuan Province has one of the most diversified ranges of ethnic groups in the whole of China. They include the Han, the Yi, the Tibetans, the Miao, the Hui and the Qiang. The majority of the minority ethnic groups have maintained their traditional lifestyles, and in most cases, they practice a mixture of agriculture, animal husbandry, and hunting.

As one of the most densely populated provinces of China, Sichuan, however, sees its population unevenly distributed. The number of persons per square mile of cultivated land varies from about 26,000 persons in the Chengdu Plain to fewer than 130 persons in the west.

Editor:Liu Kan