Sichuan

is a province in the mid-western part of China and its nearby vicinity was the birthplace of unique local civilisations that can be dated back as far at 1500 BC, the time of the Shang Dynasty.  From about 800 BC, Shu (today Chegdu) and Ba (today Chongqing City) rose as cultural and administrative centres of two rival kingdoms.

History

No one knew about Shu’s existence until 1986, when archaeologists unearthed artefacts at a small village named Sanxingdui in Guanghan County, believed to be an ancient city of the Shu Kingdom.

The Qin Dynasty overtook Shu and Ba but they could not stop Shu and Ba culture from being passed on to future generations. The people in Sichuan are the inheritors of that culture.  The Qin did not just tear down – they built up, in this case helping Sichuan to develop new technologies and increase their agricultural capabilities, much like had been done in the Huang He (Yellow River) Valley.

In the 3rd century BD, the Dujiangyan Irrigation System was built to redirect the flow of the Min Jiang so that the water reached fields and helped alleviate the damage caused by seasonal floods.  This dam system, considered to be a symbol of modernisation, and other related projects greatly increased the area’s harvest.  The region became the main supplier of food and men for Qin’s unification of China.

Adding value to the already treasured area was that it was located on the trade route from Huang He Valley to foreign countries further southwest, especially India.  Throughout history, too, this area has been highly prized by the military.  It lies in a basin surrounded by the Himalayas to the west, the Qinling Range to the north and mountainous areas of Yunnan to the south, and the whole area is often draped in a thick protective fog.  Because the Yangtze flows through the basic and is upstream to areas in the east of China, navies could easily sail downstream.  A few independent regimes tried to establish ground here, most famously Shu Han of the Three Kingdoms, which was conquered by the Jin Dynasty as part of the unification of China.  During the Tang Dynasty, Sichuan would again see active duty, this time as a battlefront in campaigns against Tibet.

There were battles between the Southern Song Dynasty and the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty in Sichuan and Ziangyang, but the Southern Song defence was finally shattered during the six-year siege of Xiangyang where firearms were used for the first time in recorded history.  The siege ended in 1273.  Shortly after, in the 12th century, a plague decimated the population; it was later repopulated by settlers from northern China.  The area’s fog made bombing targets precisely nearly impossible, as the Japanese found out in WWII when they tried to bomb the basin and the Republic of China’s capital, which had been moed to Chongqing city.
For some 500 years, Sichuan’s borders remained largely unchanged, but in 1997 the city of Chongqing and the nearby towns of Fuling and Wanxian were formed into the new Chongqing Municipality.  This was done in an effort to develop the western regions of China and to help resettle refugees from the Three Gorges Dam project.

Geography

As noted above, this area is basically a basin surrounded by mountains, with the Yangtze River flowing through it.  The Mingjian River, in central Sichuan, joins the Yangtze River at Yibin.

Pollution adds to the poor visibility caused by fog and in several cities, smog is extremely bad and there are few sunny days.

Economy

Sichaun  is historically known as the Province of Abundance because of its rich farmlands and mineral resources.  Sichaun is China’s leading grain producer, topping the output of other provinces in rice and wheat.  It also produces citrus fruits, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, peaches and rapeseed, is an important pork producer (second in China in 1999) and second in silkworm production that same year.

 

 

Sichuan’s nominal GDP for 2004 was 656 billion yuan (81.3 billion USD), which is equal to 6,270 RMB (757 USD) per capita.  IN 2005, rural residents had a per capita net income of 2,800 yuan (350 USD), while urban residents had a per capita disposable income of 8,386 yuan (1,048 USD), both of which showed a nearly 9 percent year-on-year increase.

Its mineral resources include 132 underground minerals, of which 11 are most abundant in this region including vanadium, titanium and lithium.  In the Panxi region alone are found 93 percent of China’s titanium, 69 percent of its vanadium, 83 percent of its cobalt and 13.3 percent of its iron.

Sichaun is one of China’s most important industrial bases.  It has large coal, energy, iron and steel industries as well as light industries like building materials, wood processing, food and silk processing.  There are also textiles, electronics, machinery, metallurgy and wine interests.  The wine production, for example, represented nearly 22 percent of China’s total production in 2000. 

Investments are being made to boost Sichaun’s hi-tech industrial base in the areas of electronics and information technology, but also in the automobile industry, hydropower, pharmaceuticals, and the food and beverage industry.  In addition, the aerospace and defence industries are very much present in Sichaun, and a number of rockets and satellites have been launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the city of Xichang.

The Three Gorges Dam will be the largest dam in the world when it is completed on the Yangtze River in nearby Hubei Province.  It is being built to control flooding of the Sichuan basin and the nearby Yunnan Province, as well as to develop alternative energy sources and boost industrial and commercial concerns.  Some critics, however, fear that it will damage the ecology, destroy potential archaeological sites and force refugees to be relocated.

Demographics

Most of the population is Han Chinese, although there are significant minorities of Tibetans, Yi, Qiang and Naxi in the western areas which were once a part of Tibet’s Kham region.

Culture

Most dialects of Chinese are spoken in Sichuan.  In the west of the province, the Kham and Amdo dialects of Tibetan are spoken, and the Qiangic languages and Yi are also spoken by various minorities.

Nature

Chengdu is the headquarters of the Giant Panda Sanctuary, where the Chinese are trying to increase the population of this endangered species so widely identified with China.

 

 

 

 

Tourist Attractions

UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

Dazu Rock Carvings

Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area

Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area

Mount Emei Scenic Area, including the Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic area.  This Buddha is the largest Buddha in the world, at 73 metres high, to be caved into a mountain.  It is some 1200 years old and still in very good condition, largely due to the elaborate drainage system carved into the mountain.  Near Emeishan is one of the four religious Buddhist mountains and at 3100 metres height, it is a 10-hour climb to the top.  The mountain is covered in temples and historically pilgrims would greet the sunrise from the top.  Sometimes rainbows can be seen in the clouds below, and it is said that some pilgrims threw themselves to their deaths when they jumped down to these ephemeral arches.

Mount Qincheg and the Dujiangyan Irrigation System

Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries

Colleges and universities

Southwestern University of Finance and Economics
Sichuan University
Southwest Jiaotong University
University of Electronic Science and Technology of China
Southwest University of Science and Technology



 


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