Sichuan is the second largest of China's 23 provinces based on its land area of 187,260 square miles (485,000 sq km). It is located in southwestern China adjacent to the country's largest province, Qinghai. Sichuan's capital city is Chengdu and as of 2007, the province had a population of 87,250,000 people.
Sichuan is an important province to China because of its abundant agricultural resources which include such Chinese staples as rice and wheat. Sichuan is also rich in mineral resources and is one of China's main industrial centers.
The following is a list of ten things to know about Sichuan Province:
1) Human settlement of Sichuan Province is believed to date back to the 15th century B.C.E. In the 9th century B.C.E., Shu (what is present-day Chengdu) and Ba (today's Chongqing City) grew to become the largest kingdoms in the region.
2) Shu and Ba were subsequently destroyed by the Qin Dynasty and by the 3rd century B.C.E., the area was developed with sophisticated irrigation systems and dams which ended seasonal flooding of the region. As a result Sichuan became the agricultural center of China at the time.
3) Because of Sichuan's location as a basin surrounded by mountains and the presence of the Yangtze River, the area also became an important military center throughout much of China's history. In addition, several different dynasties ruled the area; among them are the Jin Dynasty, the Tang Dynasty and the Ming Dynasty.
4) An important note about Sichuan Province is that its borders have remained mostly unchanged for the last 500 years. The largest changes occurred in 1955 when Xikang became a part of Sichuan and in 1997 when the city of Chongqing broke away to form a part of the Chongqing Municipality.
5) Today Sichuan is divided into eighteen prefecture-level cities and three independent prefectures. A prefecture level city is one that is below a province but ranks higher than a county for administrative structure. An independent prefecture is an area that has a majority of ethnic minorities or is historically important for ethnic minorities.
6) Sichuan Province is within the Sichuan basin and is surrounded by the Himalayas to the west, the Qinling Range to the east and the mountainous parts of Yunnan Province to the south. The area is also active geologically and the Longmen Shan Fault runs through part of the province.
7) In May 2008, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake occurred in Sichuan Province. Its epicenter was in the Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. The earthquake killed over 70,000 people and numerous schools, hospitals and factories collapsed. Following the earthquake in June 2008, severe flooding from a lake formed by a landslide during the earthquake occurred in low-lying areas that had already been significantly damaged. In April 2010, the region was again impacted by a magnitude 6.9 earthquake that struck neighboring Qinghai Province.
8) Sichuan Province has a varied climate with a subtropical monsoon in its eastern portions and Chengdu. This region experiences warm to hot summers and short, cool winters. It is also typically very cloudy in the winters. The western part of Sichuan Province has a climate affected by the mountains and high altitude. This it is very cold in the winter and mild in the summer. The southern part of the province is subtropical.
9) Most of Sichuan Province's population is Han Chinese. However, there is a significant population of minorities such as Tibetans, Yi, Qiang and Naxi in the province as well. Sichuan was China's most populous province until 1997 when Chongqing was separated from it.
10) Sichuan Province is famous for its biodiversity and the area is home to the famous Giant Panda Sanctuaries which consist of seven different nature reserves and nine scenic parks. These sanctuaries are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are home to more than 30% of the world's endangered giant pandas. The sites are also home to other endangered species such as the red panda, the snow leopard and the clouded leopard.
To learn more about Sichuan Province visit the Sichuan Province page on China Travel at About.com.
New York Times. (2009, May 6). Earthquake in China - Sichuan Province - News - The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/news/science/topics/earthquakes/sichuan_province_china/index.html
Wikipedia. (2010, April 18). Sichuan - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sichuan
Wikipedia. (2009, December 23). Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sichuan_Giant_Panda_Sanctuaries