Sichuan (四川; Sìchuān; previously known as Szechwan), is a province in Southwest China. It is China’s fourth most populous province; at 80 million it has about the population of Germany.
Historically, Sichuan has been mainly an agricultural region, though with a few important cities. Over the past several decades, it has been a major supplier of migrant labour to more prosperous coastal provinces in East China and South China. Sichuan is now developing rapidly.
- Chengdu — the capital of Sichuan with 2,000 years of history, the southeastern part is encircled by small mountains and to the north east is Chengdu Campagna
- Dêgê — home to an amazing Tibetan library
- Garzê — rough Tibetan town and launching point for exploring local monasteries
- Kangding — gateway to western Sichuan’s Tibetan region
- Langmusi — beautiful Tibetan border town sitting in both Gansu and Sichuan, with two monasteries, horse trekking opportunities and a sky burial site
- Leshan — home of the largest stone carved Buddha in the world
- Songpan — base camp for exploring Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve and the Amdo Tibetan culture
- Xiangcheng — on the high-road to Yunnan
Chongqing Municipality is administratively separate, but culturally and historically still Sichuanese.
- Beichuan — memorial city destroyed by earthquake and landslide in 2008, parts of it are open to tourists for viewing the damage and paying respect
- Emeishan National Park
- Hailuogou Glacier Park
- Huanglongsi -Jiuzhaigou National Park
- Jianmen Shudao National Park — Jianmen Pass and Ancient Plankway of Shudao
- Kanggar Mountains National Park
- Qingchengshan-Dujiangyan National Park — one of the ancient cradles of Daoism
- Shunan Zhuhai National Park (lit. Bamboo Sea)
- Siguniangshan National Park
- Yading Nature Reserve
Sichuan Province shares it’s borders with the Municipality of Chongqing, Qinghai Province, Gansu Province, Shaanxi Province, Guizhou Province, the Autonomous Region of Tibet and Yunnan Province. The capital city of Sichuan Province is the city of Chengdu.
On May 12th 2008, an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 rocked Sichuan Province. The epicenter of the earthquake was about 90km northwest of the capital city of Chengdu. The Death toll rate was put at 68.500 354,045 were injured.
Sichuan’s main cities are the cities of Bazhong, Meishan, Mianyang, Nanchong Dazhou, Deyang, Guang’an, Guangyuan, Leshan, Luzhou, Yibin, Zigong ,Neijiang, Panzhihua, Suining, Ya’an and Ziyang.
Sichuan Province has three autonomous prefectures which are the Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Garz Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture.
Geography of Sichuan
Sichuan Province in the Sichuan basin is bordered by the Himalayas in the west, Yunnan mountainous areas to the south Qinling range in the north. The Yangtze River flows in the basin and eastern China has it as upstream. In central Sichuan, a tributary of the upper Yangtze River the Minjiang River , which joins it at Yibin. The Longmen Shan fault was formed by plate tectonics.
Climate of Sichuan
Variable climate is seen here. Subtropical monsoon climate is witnessed in Chengdu. Long humid summers and cold, dry and cloudy winters are witnessed.
Mountainous climate characterized by very cold winters and mild summers, with plentiful sunshine are typical of western areas. The sunny, subtropical climate with very mild winters is characteristic of southern part of the province, including Panzhihua. But summers are hot and humid.
Economy of Sichuan
The largest dam in the world, The Three Gorges Dam, is on Yangtze River in Hubei province. It is built to control floods in Sichuan and Yunnan province.
A GDP of 1.05 trillion yuan was recorded in Sichuan in 2007.The per capita net income of rural residents was 3,547 Yuan in 2007, 18.1% more than 2006. Per capita GDP was 11,708 RMB.
One of the Four Great Traditions of Chinese cuisines is the Sichuanese cuisine. It is best described in four words: fresh, hot, spicy and fragrant.
Sightseeing sites in Sichuan
The Dazu Rock Carvings, Huanglong, Jiuzhaigou Valley, Mount Emei, Mount Qincheng, the Dujiangyan Irrigation System and the Giant Panda Sanctuaries in Sichuan Province constitute UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan has a fairly large modern airport with domestic connections to many cities all over China and also some international connections. Internationally you can fly from Europe (KLM), Singapore, Japan, Korea and Hong Kong, and many people arrive and depart using the very good air services available.
China has an extensive railway network and Chengdu is well connected to many cities by rail. One recent innovation is a fast train between Chongqing and Chengdu. Chongqing is a very large city which was part of Sichuan until 1997 but now is an independent municipality. Many trains shuttle every day between Chongqing and Chengdu. Not so long ago, the journey took anywhere between 4 and 8 hours depending on stops. Now a fast bullet train (over 200 km per hour) runs several times a day between the two.
Another option is buses. Buses run between Chongqing and Chengdu which takes around 4 hours. However, bus travel seems to be less reliable than trains because of road works that are often occurring.
There are also several options for travelling within Sichuan. Many popular tourism destinations such as Leshan and Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve are serviced by buses. The network is quite extensive and the highways are good. Buses also seem to mostly run on time.
Air travel is available within Sichuan if you want to go to Jiuzhaigou National Park which is over 300 km from Chengdu.
- Dacheng Lamo Kerti Gompa — located at Langmusi, temple where traditional Tibetan sky-burials are still practiced
- Giant Panda Sanctuaries — Wolong, Mt Siguniang and Jiajin Mountains” are an UNESCO World Heritage List
- Jiuzhaigou Valley
- Mount Qincheng
Go hike and camp in Yading National Nature Reserve of China, where Joseph Rock fell in love with the Chinese landscape and natural world.
Sichuan cuisine is well-known worldwide, including dishes like Kung Pao Chicken (宫保鸡丁 / 宮保雞丁, gōngbǎo jīdīng) and Twice Cooked Pork (回锅肉 / 回鍋肉, huíguōròu). It is also famously spicy, with liberal use of chilies and the indigenous Sichuan pepper (花椒, huājiāo). Sichuan peppers are used to make málà (麻辣) food, which is not just spicy but produces a unique numbing sensation—it makes your mouth feel tingly or numb.
One specialty of the area is the Hot Pot (火锅 / 火鍋, huǒguō), a sort of wide-mouthed soup pot into which an assortment of vegetables and thinly sliced meats are dropped to cook. Typically, the pot has two parts separated by a partition; one side is extremely spicy, the other milder.
Sichuan food plays approximately the role in China that Mexican or Italian food does in the US or Indian food in the UK. It is found more-or-less everywhere and in every style of restaurant from cheap hole-in-the-wall to very fancy indeed.
Stay safe in Sichuan
Sichuan suffered a catastrophic earthquake in 2008 centered on Wenchuan County, about 100 km north of Chengdu. Many towns were nearly completely destroyed and over 80,000 people killed with hundreds of thousands more injured or homeless. Reconstruction is now complete, but there is always a risk of another quake.
Many of West Sichuan’s main attractions are located at altitudes above 3,000 meters and thus altitude sickness is a threat. Make sure to monitor your health and take it easy for a day or two if moving from the lowlands to higher elevations.
To help combat this sickness, many local Chinese eat medicine known as Hong Jing Tian. These are red capsules that the soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army use to help them quickly adjust to altitude conditions in the Western Chinese provinces. Local tour companies will have a ready supply of this medicine if you ask.
There is also tension in Western Sichuan between the Chinese government and the mainly Tibetan people there, and travel restrictions may apply to this area. See the warnings under Tibet.
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