About Sichuan

Sichuan Overview

       Sichuan is located in the southwest of China and in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, with the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to the west and the SichuanBasin to the east. Sichuan covers a total area of 485,000 square kilometers and currently has a population of 87.5 million. It has 21 cities (prefectures) and 181 counties (cities and districts) under its jurisdiction.

  Geological upheaval and change over time have resulted in
Sichuan's breathtakingly beautiful and rugged terrain. It is also a cultural corridor of harmony in China between east and west, as well as north and south. East and south Sichuan are renowned in China for their many minority groups, and Sichuan is an important place for the exchange of southern and northern cultures. Civilization along the Yangtze and YellowRivers has fostered the many rich, strange and wonderful cultures of Sichuan.

  Topography of
Sichuan can be divided into two totally different worlds by the meridian of east longitude 130. In the east, there is the famous SichuanBasin, where the topography is low and is scattered with hills. The west of Sichuan is a world of tablelands and mountains. In this area of topgraphy and clear skies, various landscapes can be found: deep valleys, high peaks, snow mountains, glaciers, tableland, marshes and glassland. Thus Sichuan's heights in the west and lowland in the east have resulted in outstanding diverse natural environments, offering great scope for the development of the tourist industry.

  The west of
Sichuan is called Chuanxi Plateau (Sichuan West Plateau) and it comprises the rim of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. With an altitude ranging from 4,000 meters to 9,000 meters, Chuanxi Plateau is tilted from north to south and can be divided into north and south parts. The endless geological activity has formed many unique natural landscapes and unusual geological phenomena such as Jiuzhaigou (Nine-VillageValley), Huanglong (Yellow Dragon) and HailuoValley (ConchValley). The splendid social history has resulted in the mysterious and colorful indigenous conventions of Tibet, Qiang and Yi minorities.

  The east diamond-shaped
SichuanBasin, with a total area of 162,000 square kilometers, is considered the richest and most beautiful of China’s four largest basins. It is often called the “RedBasin” because red sandstone and shale are the main deposits on the surface of the ground. The fertile Chengdu Plain, also called Chuanxi or Shuanxi Plain, lies to the west of SichuanBasin and is the largest plain in southwest China, covering a total area of 6,000 square kilometers. Its topography is flat, with fertile land interlaced by rivers and dykes. All of this is favorable for the development of self-irrigation. Chuanxi Plain has a long history of cultivation and food production, especially grain and oil, and is regarded as a “Place of God”. The Chuanxi Plain is also rich in ancient culture.


Sichuan Climate

      Sichuan is located in the transitional zone between China’s Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the eastern plains and therefore has complex and varied topography. The vertical altitude difference between the highest point and lowest point reaches up to over 7,000m. And Sichuan’s complex and diverse climates result in rather obvious regional difference and vertical change in landscape and there are distinct disparities between the east and the west. Sichuan is generally divided into three major climate zones:
       1. Humid Subtropical Climate Zone of Sichuan Basin
  It is humid and warm throughout the year. The annual average temperature is 16-18℃ and the accumulated temperature is 4000-6000℃, with narrow daily range of temperature and wide annual range of temperature. It is warm in winter and hot in summer and the frost-free period here lasts for 230 to 340 days. Moreover, there are many cloudy days and few sunny days, and therefore the sunshine duration is short with the annual sunshine duration of merely 1000 to 1400 hours, which is 600 to 800 hours less than that of the areas along the lower reaches of the Yangzte River at the same latitude. There is abundant rainfall here, with the annual rainfall of 1000 to 1200 mm. Half of the rainfall happens in summer and more often than not at night.
       2. Sub-Humid and Subtropical Climate Zone of Southwest Sichuan’s Mountainous Regions
  The temperature is high throughout the year and the annual average temperature is 12-20℃,with wide daily range of temperature and narrow annual range of temperature. It is cold in the morning and warm at noon and the four seasons here are not clearly defined. Beside, there are few cloudy days and many sunny days and therefore the sunshine duration is long with the annual sunshine duration of 2000-2600 hours. With a little rainfall, the wet and dry seasons are distinct here and 7 months of a year are dry seasons with the annual rainfall of only 900 to 1200 mm. 90% of the rainfall happens from May to October. Influenced by the foehn, the valley regions have a typical dry-hot valley climate and a notable three-dimensional climate is formed in the mountainous regions.
       3. Alpine Climate Zone of High Mountains and Plateaus of Northwest Sichuan
  This region has huge altitude difference and obvious three-dimensional changes in climate. Subtropical climate, warm-temperate climate, moderate-temperate climate, cold-temperate climate, subfrigid climate, frigid climate and permafrost climate take turns to appear from the valley to the mountain ridge. On the whole, the cold temperature climate is dominant, which is characterized by warm and dry valleys, cold and wet mountains, chilly winters and cool summers as well as insufficient rainfall and heat. The annual average temperature is 4-12℃ while the annual rainfall is 500-900 mm. It is often fine with sufficient sunlight and the annual sunshine duration reaches 1600-2600 hours.
       The overall characteristics of Sichuan’s climate can be summarized as follows: monsoon climate is obvious and rain and heat happens in the same seasons; regional climate difference is prominent in that the east is characterized by warm winters, early springs, hot summers, autumn rains, much cloud and fog, little sunshine and a long growing season and the west is characterized by coldness, long winters, almost no summer, sufficient sunshine, concentrated rainfall and distinct dry and rain seasons; vertical climate changes are significant and climate types are varied, which are good for the comprehensive development of agriculture, forestry and husbandry; and meteorological disasters happen in various forms with a high frequency and large scope, which are mainly droughts, rainstorms, floods and cold weather. (The above data are provided by the Sichuan Yearbook Press. See Sichuan Yearbook 2008 for more details.)

Sichuan Culture

Magical Face Changes in Sichuan Opera
Sichuan Opera (Chuan Ju) originated at the end of the Ming (1368-1644) and the beginning of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). With immigrants flooding into Sichuan, different dramas were brought in to blend with the local dialect, customs, folk music and dances. Gradually, brisk humorous Sichuan Opera, reflecting Sichuan culture, came into being.
Face changing is the highlight of Sichuan Opera. It is said that ancient people painted their faces to drive away wild animals. Sichuan Opera absorbs this ancient skill and perfects it into an art.
Sichuan Tea Culture
Through most of China, tea is still the traditional drink of choice and Sichuan's tea houses havealways been famous throughout China. Sichuan tea houses have traditionally been a place for friends and family to socialize. Often in tea houses people will gossip about the latest news or play games; including cards and mahjong. While any tea house will have a wide range of teas that are sold, Jasmine tea is traditionally the tea of choice for the average local. Any trip to Sichuan would be incomplete without a visiting a tea house and relaxing to a nice cup of tea!

Sichuan Liquor Culture

It is appropriate that the beginnings of China's liquor industry would begin in a place that is nicknamed the "Land of Abundance". Once people realized that grains could be fermented to create alcohol, it became an integral part of Sichuan culture and Chinese culture as a whole. Throughout China's long history Sichuan has always been the central hub for the liquor industry and many famous Chinese poets, including Dufu and Li Bai, have written about the grandeurs of the wine made in Sichuan. Today Sichuan is home to many famous brands of alcohol in China, including: Wu Liangye and Luzhou Liaojiao.


Mahjong is a traditional game in China and is played throughout the world. The rules of Mahjong vary depending on the region, but still share the same basic principle. However, in Sichuan, Mahjong has become such an integral part of Sichuan culture. It is common in the hot afternoons to gather with friends to drink tea and play Mahjong.

With the world modernizing and big cities becoming more and more polluted, many people like to be able to take some time away from it all and get back to fresh air, nature, and get a little bit of well deserved peace and quiet. Near many of the larger cities in Sichuan are rural villages that are sprinkled throughout the countryside and mountains. Many of these villages have started farmland hotels, which are similar to a Bed and Breakfast. Visitors come and enjoy the countryside and eat homemade food.