Topography & Climate
Yunnan is situated in Southwest China on the Guizhou-Yunnan Plateau. The area is rich in natural beauty and enjoys abundant resources. Historically, Yunnan was the last great region to join the Chinese empire, and consequently many Chinese even today view it as a “frontier province” even though Kublai Khan overthrew the Dali Kingdom in 1253 AD.
Yunnan is blessed with such diverse natural beauty that it becomes difficult to describe. The province boasts year-round snow-capped mountains and glaciers, lakes and hot springs, highland landscapes, primitive forests, and tropical rain forests where elephants and monkeys roam. Nicknamed the “Kingdom of plants and animals,” Yunnan is home to over half of China’s 30,000 plants species, the majority of the nation’s almost 6,000 rare animals, more than 30 types of birds, and almost half of the country’s reptiles. Lush forests stretch across nearly 10 million hectares, covering a quarter of the land of Yunnan. Expansive skies with majestic clouds seem to go on forever.
Meili Snow Mountain, at an elevation of 6,740 meters, towers magnificently at the northern end of Yunnan and has never been climbed by man. At the southern end of the province, rare plant species and endangered animals live in Xishuangbanna, the land of “twelve thousand rice fields.” The stunning and renowned rice terraces of Yuanyang adorn the area South of Kunming, and the nearby Stone Forest is known for its picturesque limestone formations. Kunming also enjoys flowers that bloom year round, thus living up to its name of “Everlasting Spring.” The Tiger Leaping Gorge, located where the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the Haba Mountain meet, is one of the deepest and narrowest canyons in the world.
Dali’s surrounding countryside is breathtaking, and provides a great deal of bio-diversity that benefits residents’ quality of life. The Cangshan Mountains form a border around the village of Xizhou along with Lake Er Hai to the East, and peak at well over 4,000 meters. The entire plateau area is almost 2,000 meters in elevation, helping to moderate temperatures and shield residents from inclimate weather. The area around the lake is extremely fertile, enjoying two harvest seasons every year. Main crops include rice, cotton, beans, sugar cane, tobacco and wheat. The forests are lush and plentiful, home to many medicinal herbs, vast timber, and rare animals. The nearby Mt. Diancang contains a massive deposit of the highly desired Yunnan marble that is used both for construction and indigenous carvings.
The stunning landscapes are complemented by Yunnan’s continually mild climate, providing for warm winters and cool summers, making the region an ideal destination to visit practically any time of year. If you were to visit just one province of China, Yunnan might well be it.
As an ancient Chinese saying describes Yunnan: “It is better to see once than to hear about a hundred times.”
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