Sichuan

Sichuan

[sich-wahn, sich-oo-ahn; Chin. sœ-chwahn]
Sichuan or Szechwan [four rivers], province (1994 est. pop. 110,840,000), c.220,000 sq mi (569,800 sq km), SW China. The capital is Chengdu. A naturally isolated region surrounded by mountains, Sichuan is accessible to the rest of China by the Chang River, which flows through the south and receives several large tributaries, notably the Min, the Juo, and the Jialing. The spectacular gorges found along the eastern part of the Chang make it difficult to navigate to Chongqing, the chief provincial port. Transportation, formerly limited to the turbulent rivers, has been greatly expanded since the 1950s; railroads now connect Chengdu with Chongqing and Sichuan with Shaanxi and Yunnan provs., and the road network has been improved and expanded since the 1980s.

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.

or Ssu-ch'uan conventional Szechwan

Province (pop., 2002 est.: 86,730,000), upper Yangtze River (Chang Jiang) valley, southwestern China. It is bordered by Qinghai, Gansu, Shaanxi, Guizhou, and Yunnan provinces, Chongqing municipality, and the Tibet Autonomous Region. It has an area of 188,000 sq mi (487,000 sq km) and encompasses the central depression called the Sichuan (or Red) Basin; its capital is Chengdu. Sichuan is one of China's most densely populated and ethnically diverse provinces. It was among the first areas to be settled by the Chinese (5th century BC). From the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BC) until the Song dynasty (AD 960–1279), it was administered through various political subdivisions. It was established as a province during the Qing dynasty (1644–1911/12). It is China's leading producer of rice, corn (maize), sweet potatoes, cattle, and pigs. The most industrialized province of southwestern China, it is a centre for coal mining, petroleum refining, and chemical production. Sichuan's spicy cuisine is renowned worldwide.

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(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.

History

The province and its vicinity were the cradle of unique local civilizations, which can be dated back to at least the fifteenth century BC (coinciding with the later years of Shang Dynasty). Beginning from the ninth century BC, Shu (today Chengdu) and Ba (today Chongqing City) emerged as cultural and administrative centers where two rival kingdoms were established.

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.

A landslide dam on the Dadu River caused by an earthquake gave way on 10 June 1786. The resulting flood killed 100,000 people.

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.

Subdivisions

Sichuan consists of eighteen prefecture-level cities and three autonomous prefectures:

The eighteen prefecture-level cities:

  • Bazhong (巴中 |Bāzhōng Shì)
  • Chengdu (成都 |Chéngdū Shì) (Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province)
  • Dazhou (达州 |Dázhōu Shì)
  • Deyang (德阳 |Déyáng Shì)
  • Guang'an (广安 |Guǎng'ān Shì)
  • Guangyuan (广元 |Gǔangyúan Shì)
  • Leshan (乐山 |Lèshān Shì)
  • Luzhou (泸州 |Lúzhōu Shì)
  • Meishan (眉山 |Méishān Shì)
  • Mianyang (绵阳 |Miányáng Shì)
  • Nanchong (南充 |Nánchōng Shì)
  • Neijiang (内江 |Nèijiāng Shì)
  • Panzhihua (攀枝花 |Pānzhīhūa Shì)
  • Suining (遂宁 |Sùiníng Shì)
  • Ya'an (雅安 |Yǎ'ān Shì)
  • Yibin (宜宾 |Yíbīn Shì)
  • Zigong (自贡 |Zìgòng Shì)
  • Ziyang (资阳 |Zīyáng Shì)

The three autonomous prefectures:

Geography

The area lies in the Sichuan basin and is surrounded by the Himalayas (喜玛拉雅山脉)to the west, Qinling (秦岭) range to the north, and mountainous areas of Yunnan to the south. The Yangtze River flows through the basin and thus is upstream to areas of eastern China. The Minjiang River in central Sichuan is a tributary of the upper Yangtze River, which it joins at Yibin. Plate tectonics formed the Longmen Shan fault, proceeding under the north-easterly mountain location of the 2008 earthquake

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.

Bordering provinces: Chongqing Municipality, Tibet Autonomous Region, Qinghai, Gansu, Shaanxi, Guizhou and Yunnan.

Politics

The politics of Sichuan is structured in a dual party-government system like all other governing institutions in mainland China.

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".

Economy

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.

Foreign trade

According to Sichuan Department of Commerce the provinces total foreign trade reached US$14.38 billion in 2007, which is a year on year increase of 30.5 percent. Exports reached US$8.61 billion, with a year on year increase of 30 percent, while imports were at US$5.77 billion with a year on year increase of 31.4 percent. These achievements were accomplished due to the significant change in China's foreign trade policy, acceleration of yuan appreciation, increase of trade incentives and increasing production cost. The 18 cities and counties witnessed a steady rate of increase. Chengdu, Suining, Nanchong, Dazhou, Ya'an, Abazhou, Liangshan all saw an increase of more than 40 percent while Leshan, Neijiang, Luzhou, Meishan, Ziyang, Yibin saw an increase of more than 20 percent. Foreign trade in Zigong, Panzhihua, Guang'an, Bazhong and Ganzi remained constant.

Minimum wage

Sichuan government raised the minimum wage in the province by 12.5 percent at the end of December 2007. The monthly minimum wage went up from 400 to 450 yuan, with a minimum of 4.9 yuan per hour for part-time work, effective Dec. 26 2007. The government also reduced the four-tier minimum wage structure to just three tiers. The top tier mandates a minimum of 650 yuan per month, or 7.1 yuan per hour. National law allows each province to set minimum wages independently, as long as it's at least 450 yuan per month.

Transportation

Expressways

On November 3, 2007, Sichuan Transportation Bureau announced that the Sui-Yu Expressway has been completed after three years of construction. After completion of the Chongqing section of the road, the 36.64 kilometer long Expressway connected Cheng-Nan Expressway and formed the shortest expressway from Chengdu to Chongqing. The new expressway is 50 kilometers shorter than the pre-existing road between Chengdu and Chongqing; it has cut the journey time between the two cities down by an hour, to two and a half hours. The Sui-Yu Expressway is a four lane overpass with a speed limit of 80 kilometers per hour. The total investment was 1.045 billion Yuan.

Demographics

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.

Culture

The Li Bai Memorial, located at his birthplace, Zhongba Town of northern Jiangyou County in Sichuan Province, is a museum in memory of Li Bai, a Chinese poet in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It was prepared in 1962 on the occasion of 1,200th anniversary of his death, completed in 1981 and opened to the public in October 1982. The memorial is built in the style of the classic garden of the Tang Dynasty.

Languages

Most dialects of the Chinese language spoken in Sichuan, including the Chengdu dialect of the provincial capital, belong to the southwestern subdivision of the Mandarin group, and are therefore very similar to the dialects of neighboring Yunnan and Guizhou provinces as well as Chongqing Municipality. Typical features shared by many southwestern Mandarin dialects include the merger of the retroflex consonants into the alveolar consonants , the merger of /n/ and /l/, as well as the merger of into .

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.

Cuisine

The Sichuanese are proud of their cuisine, since it's one of the Four Great Traditions of Chinese cuisine, which now is famous all over the world. Sichuan cuisine is of "one dish, one shape, hundreds of dishes, hundreds of tastes", as the saying goes, to describe how diverse the cuisine is. The most prominent traits of Sichuanese cuisine are described by four words: spicy, hot, fresh and fragrant. Two famous Sichuan chefs are Chen Kenmin and his son, who was Iron Chef Chinese on "Iron Chef" Chen Kenichi.

Education

Colleges and universities

Collapse of schools during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake

See also: Allegations of corruption in the construction of Chinese schools, Collapse of schools in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake
During the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, a disproportionately high number of school structures collapsed, especially in rural areas of Sichuan, leading to allegations of corruption and promises by the government for an Inquiry. However, it remains unclear whether the allegedly shoddy construction was unique to Sichuan, as opposed to a nation-wide practice that only became visible in Sichuan due to the earthquake.

Tourism

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Sports

Professional sports teams in Sichuan include:

Twin states

See also

Footnotes

External links

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