Central Sichuan is generally a rough plateau that is called the Red Basin because of its red sandstone formation. The basin includes the fertile, densely populated Chengdu Plain (c.1,700 sq mi/4,400 sq km), the only large, level area in the province; however, extensive terracing adds much cultivated land, and with a hot, humid climate, adequate rainfall, effective irrigation systems, and fertile soil, two harvests a year are usual. Sichuan, the "rice bowl" of China, is the country's leading rice producer. Sugarcane, potatoes, citrus fruits, wheat, corn, sugar beets, sweet potatoes, and beans are also grown. Sichuan is a major cotton producer; other economic crops include ramie (in which the province ranks second in production), hemp, medicinal herbs, tea, and oilseed. About 20% of the province is forested, and tung oil is a major export. Silk, grown on both mulberry and oak trees, is still produced; Sichuan was once famous for its Shu brocades and Ba satins. In the western areas (formerly Xikang prov.), there is much grazing land, and the province's cattle and pig populations are the largest in the country. Other livestock raised are yaks, horses, sheep, and goats. Salt has been mined since ancient times; other mineral resources include oil, natural gas, coal, iron, copper, lead, zinc, aluminum, platinum, gold, nickel, asbestos, and phosphorus. Sichuan has a variety of light and heavy industries, which are centered in Chengdu, Chongqing, Neijiang, Yibin, Wanxian, and Nanzhong. It also has a spacecraft launch facility near Xichang. The province has many ethnic groups; there are three large minority autonomous regions.
Sichuan has often been an independent kingdom. It was early a center of Thai culture; its Indian influence came in via the Myanmar-Yunnan trade route. The Chinese Communists controlled much of N Sichuan in the early 1930s, and the province served as a refuge during the long march. In the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45), Sichuan was the temporary center of Nationalist China. Xikang prov. E of the Chang was added in 1955 to Sichuan, nearly doubling its area. In 2008 N central Sichuan experienced a devastating earthquark in which tens of thousands were killed. Sichuan Univ. is in Chengdu.
(Postal map spelling: Szechwan and Szechuan) is a province in western China with its capital in Chengdu. The current name of the province, 四川 (Sìchuān), is an abbreviation of 四川路 (Sì Chuānlù), or "Four circuits of rivers", which is itself abbreviated from 川峡四路 (Chuānxiá Sìlù), or "Four circuits of rivers and gorges", named after the division of the existing circuit into four during the Northern Song Dynasty.
Shu's existence was unknown until an archaeological discovery in 1986 at a small village named Sanxingdui (三星堆 Sān Xīng Duī) in Guanghan County. It is believed to be an ancient city of the Shu Kingdom, where excavations have yielded invaluable archaeological information.
Although the Qin Dynasty destroyed the civilizations of Shu and Ba, their cultures were preserved and inherited by people in Sichuan until today. The Qin government accelerated the technological and agricultural advancements of Sichuan making it comparable to that of the Huang He (Yellow River) Valley. The Dujiangyan Irrigation System, built in the 3rd century BC under the inspection of Li Bing, was the symbol of modernization of that period. Composed of a series of dams, it redirected the flow of the Min Jiang, a major tributary of the Yangtze River, to fields, relieving the damage of seasonal floods. The construction and various other projects greatly increased the harvest of the area which thus became the main source of provisions and men for Qin's unification of China.
Various ores were abundant. Adding to its significance, the area was also on the trade route from the Huang He Valley to foreign countries of the southwest, especially India.
The area's military importance matches its commercial and agricultural significance. As a basin surrounded by the Himalayas to the west, the Qinling Range to the north, and mountainous areas of Yunnan to the south, Sichuan is prone to fog. Since the Yangtze flows through the basin and is thus upstream of eastern China, navies could be easily sailed downstream. Therefore Sichuan was the base for numerous amphibious military forces and also served as the refuge of Chinese governments throughout history. A few independent regimes were founded; the most famous was Shu Han of the Three Kingdoms. The Jin Dynasty first conquered Shu Han on its path of unification. During the Tang Dynasty, it was a battlefront against Tibet.
The Southern Song Dynasty established coordinated defenses against the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty in Sichuan and Xiangyang. The line of defense was finally broken through after the first use of firearms in history during the six-year siege of Xiangyang, which ended in 1273. In the 20th century, the foggy climate hindered the accuracy of Japanese bombing of the basin and the city of Chongqing, where the capital of the Republic of China had been relocated during World War II.
During the Ming Dynasty major architectural works were created in Sichuan. Bao'en Temple is a well-preserved fifteenth century monastery complex built between 1440 and 1446 during Emperor Yingzong's reign (1427-64) in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Dabei Hall enshrines a thousand-armed wooden image of Guanyin and Huayan Hall is a repository with a revolving sutra cabinet. The wall paintings, sculptures and other ornamental details are masterpieces of the Ming period.
Sichuan's borders have remained relatively constant for the past 500 years. This changed in 1997 when the city of Chongqing as well as the surrounding towns of Fuling and Wanxian were formed into the new Chongqing Municipality. The new municipality was formed to spearhead China's effort to develop its western regions as well as to coordinate the resettlement of residents from the reservoir areas of the Three Gorges Dam project.
On Monday, May 12, 2008 at 2:28:01 PM local time, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9/8.0 hit just 90km northwest of the provincial capital of Chengdu. As of May 14, the official Xinhua news agency reported: 14,463 people were dead, another 14,051 were missing, 25,788 were buried in the debris and 64,746 had been injured, On May 31, the death toll was updated to 68,467 in Sichuan with a further ~17,000 people missing, and 354,045 injured.
The eighteen prefecture-level cities:
The three autonomous prefectures:
The climate is highly variable. The Sichuan Basin (including Chengdu) in eastern half of the province experiences a subtropical monsoon climate with long, warm to hot, humid summers and short, cool to cold, dry and cloudy winters, with China's lowest sunshine totals. The western areas have a mountainous climate characterized by very cold winters and mild summers, with plentiful sunshine. The southern part of the province, including Panzhihua, has a sunny, subtropical climate with very mild winters and hot summers.
The Governor of Sichuan is the highest ranking official in the People's Government of Sichuan. However, in the province's dual party-government governing system, the Governor has less power than the Sichuan Communist Party of China Provincial Committee Secretary, colloquially termed the "Sichuan CPC Party Chief".
Sichuan has been historically known as the "Province of Abundance". It is one of the major agricultural production bases of China. Grain, including rice and wheat, is the major product with output that ranked first in China in 1999. Commercial crops include citrus fruits, sugar canes, sweet potatoes, peaches and grapeseeds. Sichuan also had the largest output of pork among all the provinces and the second largest output of silkworm cocoons in China in 1999. Sichuan is rich in mineral resources. It has more than 132 kinds of proven underground mineral resources of which reserves of 11 kinds including vanadium, titanium, and lithium are the largest in China. The Panxi region alone possesses 13.3% of the reserves of iron, 93% of titanium, 69% of vanadium, 83% of cobalt of the whole country.
Sichuan is one of the major industrial bases of China. In addition to heavy industries such as coal, energy, iron and steel industry, the province has established a light manufacturing sector comprising building materials, wood processing, food and silk processing. Chengdu and Mianyang are the production bases for textiles and electronics products. Deyang, Panzhihua, and Yibin are the production bases for machinery, metallurgy industries, and wine respectively. The wine production of Sichuan accounted for 21.9% of the country’s total production in 2000. Great strides have been achieved in accelerating the development of Sichuan into a modern hi-tech industrial base by encouraging both domestic and foreign investments in electronics and information technology (such as software), machinery and metallurgy (including automobiles), hydropower, pharmaceutical, food and beverage industries. The auto industry is important and a key sector of the machinery industry in Sichuan. Most of the auto manufacturing companies are located in Chengdu, Mianyang, Nanchong, and Luzhou . Other important industries in Sichuan include aerospace and defense (military) industries. A number of China's rockets (Long March rockets) and satellites has been launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, located in the city of Xichang. Sichuan's beautiful landscapes and rich historical relics have also made the province into a major center for tourism.
The Three Gorges Dam, the largest dam ever constructed, is being built on the Yangtze River in nearby Hubei province to control flooding in the Sichuan Basin, neighboring Yunnan province, and downstream. The plan is hailed by some as a Chinese effort to shift towards alternate energy sources and to further develop its industrial and commercial bases but others have criticised it for its potential harmful effects, such as massive resettlement of residents in the reservoir areas, loss of archeological sites, and ecological damage.
Sichuan's nominal GDP for 2007 was 1.05 trillion yuan (US$138 billion), equivalent to 11,708 RMB (US$1,540) per capita. In 2007, the per capita net income of rural residents reached 3,547 yuan (US$466), up 18.1% from 2006. The per capita disposable income of the urbanites averaged 11,098 yuan (US$1,460), up 18.7% from 2006. In 2007 its GDP stood at 1.05 trillion yuan (US$138 billion) accounting 4.3% of the national figure.
The majority of population is Han Chinese, who are found scattered throughout the province. Significant minorities of Tibetans, Yi, Qiang and Naxi reside in the western portion. Sichuan was China's most populous province before Chongqing was carved out of it, making Henan the current most populous. However, when including migrants, Guangdong has a higher population than Henan. It was the 3rd most populous sub-national entity in the world, after the Uttar Pradesh, India and the Russian SFSR until 1991 when the Soviet Union was dissolved, as well as only 1 of 4 (Uttar Pradesh, Russian RSFSR, Maharashtra, and Sichuan) to ever reach 100 million people. It is currently 6th.
The prefectures of Garzê and Ngawa (Aba) in western Sichuan are populated predominantly by ethnic Tibetans, who speak the Kham and Amdo dialects of Tibetan. The Qiang and other related ethnicities speak the Qiangic languages, which are part of the Tibeto-Burman languages. The Yi of Liangshan prefecture in southern Sichuan speak the Yi language, which is more closely related to Burmese; Yi is written using the Yi script, a syllabary standardized in 1974.