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Sichuan, formerly romanized Szechuan, is a province in southwest China occupying most of the Sichuan Basin and the easternmost part of the Tibetan Plateau between the Jinsha River on the west, the Daba Mountains in the north, and the Yungui Plateau to the south. Sichuan's capital city is Chengdu.
In antiquity, Sichuan was the home of the ancient states of Ba and Shu. Their conquest by Qin strengthened it and paved the way for the First Emperor's unification of China under the Qin Dynasty. During the Three Kingdoms era, Liu Bei's Shu was based in Sichuan. The area was devastated in the 17th century by Zhang Xianzhong's rebellion and the area's subsequent Manchu conquest, but recovered to become one of China's most productive areas by the 19th century. During the Second World War, Chongqing served as the temporary capital of the Republic of China, making it the focus of Japanese bombing. It was one of the last mainland areas to fall to the Communists during the Chinese Civil War and was divided into four parts from 1949 to 1952, with Chongqing restored two years later. It suffered gravely during the Great Chinese Famine of 1959–61 but remained China's most populous province until Chongqing Municipality was again separated from it in 1997.
The people of Sichuan speak a unique form of Mandarin, which took shape during the area's repopulation under the Ming. The family of dialects is now spoken by about 120 million people, which would make it the 10th most spoken language in the world if counted separately. The area's warm damp climate long caused Chinese medicine to advocate spicy dishes; the native Sichuan pepper was supplemented by Mexican chilis during the Columbian Exchange to form modern Sichuan cuisine, whose dishes—including Kung Pao chicken and Mapo tofu—have become staples around the world.
In Modern Chinese, the name Sichuan has the meaning "four rivers" and this folk etymology is usually extended to list the provinces' four major rivers: the Jialing, Jinsha, Min, and Tuo. In fact, the name of the province in a contraction of the phrases Sì Chuānlù (四川路, "Four River Circuits") and Chuānxiá Sìlù (川峡四路, "Four Circuits of Rivers and Gorges"), referring to the division of the existing imperial administrative circuit into four during the Northern Song dynasty. In addition to its postal map and Wade-Giles forms, the name has also been irregularly romanized as Szű-chuan and Szechuan.
In antiquity, the area of modern Sichuan was known to the Chinese as Ba-Shu, in reference to the ancient states of Ba and Shu that once occupied the Sichuan Basin. Shu continues to be used to refer to the Sichuan region all through its history right up to the present day; a number of states formed in the area used the same name, for example the Shu of the Three Kingdoms period, and Former Shu and Later Shu of the Ten Kingdoms period.
The Sichuan Basin and adjacent areas of the Yangtze watershed were a cradle of indigenous civilizations dating back to at least the 15th century BC, coinciding with the later years of the Shang in northern China. The region had its own distinct religious beliefs and worldview. Various ores were abundant. The area also formed a stage on the trade routes connecting the Yellow River watershed with India and the west, the primary means of Eurasian trade before the establishment of the overland and maritime Silk Roads under the Han.
The most important native states were those of Ba and Shu.
Shu occupied the valley of the Min, including Chengdu and other areas of western Sichuan. The existence of the early state of Shu was poorly recorded in the main historical records of China. It was, however, referred to in the Book of Documents as an ally of the Zhou. Accounts of Shu exist mainly as a mixture of mythological stories and historical legends recorded in local annals such as the Chronicles of Huayang compiled in the Jin dynasty (265–420), with folk stories such as that of Emperor Duyu (杜宇) who taught the people agriculture and transformed himself into a cuckoo after his death. The existence of a highly developed civilization with an independent bronze industry in Sichuan eventually came to light with an archaeological discovery in 1986 at a small village named Sanxingdui in Guanghan, Sichuan. This site, believed to be an ancient city of Shu, was initially discovered by a local farmer in 1929 who found jade and stone artefacts. Excavations by archaeologists in the area yielded few significant finds until 1986 when two major sacrificial pits were found with spectacular bronze items as well as artefacts in jade, gold, earthenware, and stone. This and other discoveries in Sichuan contest the conventional historiography that the local culture and technology of Sichuan were undeveloped in comparison to the technologically and culturally "advanced" Yellow River valley of north-central China.
The rulers of the expansionist Qin dynasty, based in present-day Gansu and Shaanxi, were the first strategists to realize that the area's military importance matched its commercial and agricultural significance. The Sichuan basin is surrounded by the Hengduan Mountains to the west, the Qin Mountains to the north, and Yungui Plateau to the south. Since the Yangtze flows through the basin and then through the perilous Three Gorges to eastern and southern China, Sichuan was a staging area for amphibious military forces and a refuge for political refugees.
Qin armies finished their conquest of the kingdoms of Shu and Ba by 316 BC. Any written records and civil achievements of earlier kingdoms were destroyed. Qin administrators introduced improved agricultural technology. Li Bing, engineered the Dujiangyan irrigation system to control the Min River, a major tributary of the Yangtze. This innovative hydraulic system was composed of movable weirs which could be adjusted for high or low water flow according to the season, to either provide irrigation or prevent floods. The increased agricultural output and taxes made the area a source of provisions and men for Qin's unification of China.
Sichuan was subjected to the autonomous control of kings named by the imperial family of Han Dynasty. Following the declining central government of the Han dynasty in the second century, the Sichuan basin, surrounded by mountains and easily defensible, became a popular place for upstart generals to found kingdoms that challenged the authority of Yangtze Valley emperors over China.
In 221, during the partition following the fall of the Eastern Han - the era of the Three Kingdoms - Liu Bei founded the southwest kingdom of Shu Han (蜀汉; 221–263) in parts of Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan, with Chengdu as its capital. Shu-Han claimed to be the successor to the Han Dynasty.
In 263, the Jin dynasty of North China, conquered the Kingdom of Shu-Han as its first step on the path to unify China again, under their rule. Salt production becomes a major business in Ziliujing District. During this Six Dynasties period of Chinese disunity, Sichuan began to be populated by non-Han ethnic minority peoples, owing to the migration of Gelao people from the Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau to the Sichuan basin, where the Han are indigenous.
Sichuan came under the firm control of a Chinese central government during the Sui dynasty, but it was during the subsequent Tang dynasty where Sichuan regained its previous political and cultural prominence for which it was known during the Han. Chengdu became nationally known as a supplier of armies and the home of Du Fu, who is sometimes called China's greatest poet. During the An Lushan Rebellion (755–763), Emperor Xuanzong of Tang fled from Chang'an to Sichuan which became his refuge. The region was torn by constant warfare and economic distress as it was besieged by the Tibetan Empire.
In the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, Sichuan became the centre of the Shu kingdom with its capital in Chengdu founded by Wang Jian. In 925 the kingdom was absorbed into Later Tang but would regain independence under Meng Zhixiang who founded Later Shu in 934. Later Shu would continue until 965 when it was absorbed by the Song.
During Song dynasty (960–1279), Sichuanese were able to protect themselves from Tibetan attacks with the help of central government. Sichuan also saw cultural revival like great poets Su Xun (蘇洵), Su Shi, and Su Zhe. Although paper currency was known in the Tang dynasty, in 1023 AD, the first true paper money in human history, termed jiaozi (交子, jiāozǐ), was issued in Chengdu.
It was also during the Song Dynasty did the bulk of the native Ba people if eastern Sichuan finally assimilated into the Han Chinese ethnicity.
In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Southern Song Dynasty established coordinated defenses against the Mongolian Yuan dynasty, in Sichuan and Xiangyang. The Southern Song state monopolized the Sichuan tea industry to pay for warhorses, but this state intervention eventually brought devastation to the local economy. The line of defense was finally broken through after the first use of firearms in history during the six-year Battle of Xiangyang, which ended in 1273. The Mongols was said to have sacked Chengdu in 1279 with over a million of its inhabitants claimed to have been killed. The recorded number of families in Sichuan dropped from the census taken in 1162 AD of 2,640,000 families, to 120,000 families in 1282 AD, although there may be other causes for the drop, such as population transfer, possible census inaccuracy and other war related causes. After winning a battle in 1259, more than 80,000 people were taken captive from one city in Sichuan and moved to Mongolia.
The Ming dynasty defeated Ming Yuchen's Xia polity which ruled Sichuan.
During the Ming dynasty, major architectural works were created in Sichuan. Buddhism remained influential in the region. Bao'en Temple is a well-preserved 15th century monastery complex built between 1440 and 1446 during the Zhengtong Emperor's reign (1427–64). 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.
In the middle of the 17th century, the peasant rebel leader Zhang Xianzhong (1606–1646) from Yan'an, Shanxi Province, nicknamed Yellow Tiger, led his peasant troop from north China to the south, and conquered Sichuan. Upon capturing it, he declared himself emperor of the Daxi Dynasty (大西王朝). In response to the resistance from local elites, he massacred a large number of people in Sichuan. As a result of the massacre as well as years of turmoil during the Ming-Qing transition, the population of Sichuan fell sharply, requiring a massive resettlement of people from the neighboring Huguang Province (modern Hubei and Hunan) and other provinces during the Qing dynasty.
Sichuan was originally the origin of the Deng lineage until one of them was hired as an official in Guangdong during the Ming dynasty but during the Qing plan to increase the population in 1671 they came to Sichuan again. Deng Xiaoping was born in Sichuan.
During the Qing dynasty, Sichuan was merged with Shaanxi and Shanxi to create "Shenzhuan" during 1680-1731 and 1735-1748. The current borders of Sichuan (which then included Chongqing) were established in the early 18th century. In the aftermath of the Sino-Nepalese War on China's southwestern border, the Qing gave Sichuan's provincial government direct control over the minority-inhabited areas of Sichuan west of Kangding, which had previously been handled by an amban.
In the early 20th century, the newly founded Republic of China established Chuanbian Special Administrative District (川邊特別行政區), which acknowledged the unique culture and economy of the region largely differing from that of mainstream northern China in the Yellow River region. The Special District later became the province of Xikang, incorporating the areas inhabited by Yi, Tibetan and Qiang ethnic minorities to its west, and eastern part of today's Tibet Autonomous Region.
In the 20th century, as Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, and Wuhan had all been occupied by the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the capital of the Republic of China had been temporary relocated to Chongqing, then a major city in Sichuan. An enduring legacy of this move is that nearby inland provinces, such as Shaanxi, Gansu, and Guizhou, which previously never had modern Western-style universities, began to be developed in this regard. The difficulty of accessing the region overland from the eastern part of China and the foggy climate hindering the accuracy of Japanese bombing of the Sichuan Basin, made the region the stronghold of Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang government during 1938–45, and led to the Bombing of Chongqing.
The Second Sino-Japanese War was soon followed by the resumed Chinese Civil War, and the cities of East China are obtained by the Communists one after another, the Kuomintang government again tried to make Sichuan its stronghold on the mainland, although it already saw some Communist activity since it was one area on the road of the Long March. Chiang Kai-shek himself flew to Chongqing from Taiwan in November 1949 to lead the defense. But the same month Chongqing switched to the Communists, followed by Chengdu on 10 December. The Kuomintang general Wang Sheng wanted to stay behind with his troops to continue anticommunist guerilla war in Sichuan, but was recalled to Taiwan. Many of his soldiers made their way there as well, via Burma.
The People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, and it split Sichuan into four areas and separated out Chongqing municipality. Sichuan was reconstituted in 1952, with Chongqing added in 1954, while the former Xikang province was split between Tibet in the west and Sichuan in the east.
In 1978, when Deng Xiaoping took power, Sichuan was one of the first provinces to undergo limited experimentation with market economic enterprise.
From 1955 until 1997 Sichuan had been China's most populous province, hitting 100 million mark shortly after the 1982 census figure of 99,730,000. This changed in 1997 when the Sub-provincial city of Chongqing as well as the three surrounding prefectures of Fuling, Wanxian, and Qianjiang were split off into the new Chongqing Municipality. The new municipality was formed to spearhead China's effort to economically develop its western provinces, as well as to coordinate the resettlement of residents from the reservoir areas of the Three Gorges Dam project.
In May 2008, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9/8.0 hit just 79 kilometres (49 mi) northwest of the provincial capital of Chengdu. Official figures recorded a death toll of nearly 70,000 people, and millions of people were left homeless.
|Administrative divisions of Sichuan|
|№||Division code||English name||Chinese||Pinyin||Area in km2||Population 2010||Seat||Divisions|
|Districts||Counties||Aut. counties||CL cities|
|9||510100||Chengdu||成都市||Chéngdū Shì||12,163.16||14,047,625||Wuhou District||10||5||5|
|17||510300||Zigong||自贡市||Zìgòng Shì||4,373.13||2,678,898||Ziliujing District||4||2|
|21||510400||Panzhihua||攀枝花市||Pānzhīhuā Shì||7,423.42||1,214,121||Dong District||3||2|
|19||510500||Luzhou||泸州市||Lúzhōu Shì||12,233.58||4,218,426||Jiangyang District||3||4|
|10||510600||Deyang||德阳市||Déyáng Shì||5,951.55||3,615,759||Jingyang District||1||2||3|
|3||510700||Mianyang||绵阳市||Miányáng Shì||20,267.46||4,613,862||Fucheng District||3||4||1||1|
|4||510800||Guangyuan||广元市||Guǎngyuán Shì||16,313.70||2,484,125||Lizhou District||3||4|
|11||510900||Suining||遂宁市||Sùiníng Shì||5,323.85||3,252,551||Chuanshan District||2||3|
|16||511000||Neijiang||内江市||Nèijiāng Shì||5,385.33||3,702,847||Shizhong District||2||3|
|15||511100||Leshan||乐山市||Lèshān Shì||12,827.49||3,235,756||Shizhong District||4||4||2||1|
|5||511300||Nanchong||南充市||Nánchōng Shì||12,479.96||6,278,622||Shunqing District||3||5||1|
|13||511400||Meishan||眉山市||Méishān Shì||7,173.82||2,950,548||Dongpo District||2||4|
|18||511500||Yibin||宜宾市||Yíbīn Shì||13,293.89||4,472,001||Cuiping District||2||8|
|12||511600||Guang'an||广安市||Guǎng'ān Shì||6,301.41||3,205,476||Guang'an District||2||3||1|
|7||511700||Dazhou||达州市||Dázhōu Shì||16,591.00||5,468,092||Tongchuan District||2||4||1|
|8||511800||Ya'an||雅安市||Yǎ'ān Shì||15,213.28||1,507,264||Yucheng District||2||6|
|6||511900||Bazhong||巴中市||Bāzhōng Shì||12,301.26||3,283,771||Bazhou District||2||3|
|14||512000||Ziyang||资阳市||Zīyáng Shì||7,962.56||3,665,064||Yanjiang District||1||2|
|2||513200||Aba Tibetan and Qiang
|阿坝藏族羌族自治州||Ābà Zàngzú Qiāngzú Zìzhìzhōu||82,383.32||898,713||Barkam||12||1|
|甘孜藏族自治州||Gānzī Zàngzú Zìzhìzhōu||147,681.37||1,091,872||Kangding||17||1|
|凉山彝族自治州||Liángshān Yízú Zìzhìzhōu||60,422.67||4,532,809||Xichang||15||1||1|
Sichuan consists of two geographically very distinct parts. The eastern part of the province is mostly within the fertile Sichuan basin (which is shared by Sichuan with Chongqing Municipality). The western Sichuan consists of the numerous mountain ranges forming the easternmost part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which are known generically as Hengduan Mountains. One of these ranges, Daxue Mountains, contains the highest point of the province Gongga Shan, at 7,556 m (24,790 ft) above sea level. The mountains are formed by the collision of the Tibetan Plateau with the Yangtze Plate. Faults here include the Longmenshan Fault which ruptured during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Other mountain ranges surround the Sichuan Basin from north, east, and south. Among them are the Daba Mountains, in the province's northeast.
The Yangtze River and its tributaries flows through the mountains of western Sichuan and the Sichuan Basin; thus, the province is upstream of the great cities that stand along the Yangtze River further to the east, such as Chongqing, Wuhan, Nanjing and Shanghai. One of the major tributaries of the Yangtze within the province is the Min River of central Sichuan, which joins the Yangtze at Yibin. Sichuan's 4 main rivers, as Sichuan means literally, are Jialing Jiang, Tuo Jiang, Yalong Jiang, and Jinsha Jiang.
Due to great differences in terrain, the climate of the province is highly variable. In general it has strong monsoonal influences, with rainfall heavily concentrated in the summer. Under the Köppen climate classification, the Sichuan Basin (including Chengdu) in the eastern half of the province experiences a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cwa or Cfa), with long, hot, humid summers and short, mild to cool, dry and cloudy winters. Consequently, it has China's lowest sunshine totals. The western region has mountainous areas producing a cooler but sunnier climate. Having cool to very cold winters and mild summers, temperatures generally decrease with greater elevation. However, due to high altitude and its inland location, many areas such as Garze County and Zoige County in Sichuan exhibit a subarctic climate (Köppen Dwc)- featuring extremely cold winters down to −30 °C and even cold summer nights. The region is geologically active with landslides and earthquakes. Average elevation ranges from 2,000 to 3,500 meters; average temperatures range from 0 to 15 °C. The southern part of the province, including Panzhihua and Xichang, has a sunny climate with short, very mild winters and very warm to hot summers.
Sichuan borders Qinghai to the northwest, Gansu to the north, Shaanxi to the northeast, Chongqing to the east, Guizhou to the southeast, Yunnan to the south, and the Tibet Autonomous Region to the west.
Larix potaninii in autumn colour.
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's Party 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 cane, sweet potatoes, peaches and grapes. Sichuan also had the largest output of pork among all the provinces and the second largest output of silkworm cocoons in 1999. Sichuan is rich in mineral resources. It has more than 132 kinds of proven underground mineral resources including vanadium, titanium, and lithium being the largest in China. The Panxi region alone possesses 13.3% of the reserves of iron, 93% of titanium, 69% of vanadium, and 83% of the cobalt of the whole country. Sichuan also possesses China's largest proven natural gas reserves, the majority of which is transported to more developed eastern regions.
Sichuan is one of the major industrial centers of China. In addition to heavy industries such as coal, energy, iron and steel, the province has also established a light industrial sector comprising building materials, wood processing, food and silk processing. Chengdu and Mianyang are the production centers for textiles and electronics products. Deyang, Panzhihua, and Yibin are the production centers for machinery, metallurgical industries, and wine, respectively. Sichuan's wine production accounted for 21.9% of the country's total production in 2000.
Great strides have been made in developing 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.
Other important industries in Sichuan include aerospace and defense (military) industries. A number of China's rockets (Long March rockets) and satellites were 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 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 China's efforts to shift towards alternative energy sources and to further develop its industrial and commercial bases, but others have criticised it for its potentially harmful effects, such as massive resettlement of residents in the reservoir areas, loss of archeological sites, and ecological damages.
Sichuan's nominal GDP for 2011 was 2.15 trillion yuan (US$340 billion), equivalent to 17,380 RMB (US$2,545) per capita. In 2008, the per capita net income of rural residents was 4,121 yuan (US$593), up 16.2% from 2007. The per capita disposable income of the urbanites averaged 12,633 yuan (US$1,819), up 13.8% from 2007.
According to the Sichuan Department of Commerce, the province's total foreign trade was US$22.04 billion in 2008, with an annual increase of 53.3 percent. Exports were US$13.1 billion, an annual increase of 52.3 percent, while imports were US$8.93 billion, an annual increase of 54.7 percent. These achievements were accomplished because of significant changes in China's foreign trade policy, acceleration of the yuan's appreciation, increase of commercial incentives and increase in production costs. The 18 cities and counties witnessed a steady rate of increase. Chengdu, Suining, Nanchong, Dazhou, Ya'an, Abazhou, and Liangshan all saw an increase of more than 40 percent while Leshan, Neijiang, Luzhou, Meishan, Ziyang, and Yibin saw an increase of more than 20 percent. Foreign trade in Zigong, Panzhihua, Guang'an, Bazhong and Ganzi remained constant.
The 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 26 December 2007. The government also reduced the four-tier minimum wage structure to three. 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, but with a floor of 450 yuan per month.
Chengdu Economic and Technological Development Zone (Chinese: 成都经济技术开发区; pinyin: Chéngdū jīngjì jìshù kāifā qū) was approved as state-level development zone in February 2000. The zone now has a developed area of 10.25 km2 (3.96 sq mi) and has a planned area of 26 km2 (10 sq mi). Chengdu Economic and Technological Development Zone (CETDZ) lies 13.6 km (8.5 mi) east of Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province and the hub of transportation and communication in southwest China. The zone has attracted investors and developers from more than 20 countries to carry out their projects there. Industries encouraged in the zone include mechanical, electronic, new building materials, medicine and food processing.
Chengdu Export Processing Zone ((Chinese: 成都出口加工区; pinyin: Chéngdū chūkǒu jiāgōng qū)) was ratified by the State Council as one of the first 15 export processing zones in the country in April 2000. In 2002, the state ratified the establishment of the Sichuan Chengdu Export Processing West Zone with a planned area of 1.5 km2 (0.58 sq mi), located inside the west region of the Chengdu Hi-tech Zone.
Established in 1988, Chengdu Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone (Chinese: 成都高新技术产业开发区; pinyin: Chéngdū Gāoxīn Jìshù Chǎnyè Kāifā Qū) was approved as one of the first national hi-tech development zones in 1991. In 2000, it was open to APEC and has been recognized as a national advanced hi-tech development zone in successive assessment activities held by China's Ministry of Science and Technology. It ranks 5th among the 53 national hi-tech development zones in China in terms of comprehensive strength.
Chengdu Hi-tech Development Zone covers an area of 82.5 km2 (31.9 sq mi), consisting of the South Park and the West Park. By relying on the city sub-center, which is under construction, the South Park is focusing on creating a modernized industrial park of science and technology with scientific and technological innovation, incubation R&D, modern service industry and Headquarters economy playing leading roles. Priority has been given to the development of software industry. Located on both sides of the "Chengdu-Dujiangyan-Jiuzhaigou" golden tourism channel, the West Park aims at building a comprehensive industrial park targeting at industrial clustering with complete supportive functions. The West Park gives priority to three major industries i.e. electronic information, biomedicine and precision machinery.
Mianyang Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone was established in 1992, with a planned area of 43 km2 (17 sq mi). The zone is situated 96 kilometers away from Chengdu, and is 8 km (5.0 mi) away from Mianyang Airport. Since its establishment, the zone accumulated 177.4 billion yuan of industrial output, 46.2 billion yuan of gross domestic product, fiscal revenue 6.768 billion yuan. There are more than 136 high-tech enterprises in the zone and they accounted for more than 90% of the total industrial output.
The zone is a leader in the electronic information industry, biological medicine, new materials and production of motor vehicles and parts.
For millennia, Sichuan's rugged and riverine landscape presented enormous challenges to the development of transportation infrastructure, and the lack of roads out of the Sichuan Basin contributed to the region's isolation. Since the 1950s, numerous highways and railways have been built through the Qinling in the north and the Bashan in the east. Dozens of bridges across the Yangtze and its tributaries to the south and west have brought greater connectivity with Yunnan and Tibet.
On 3 November 2007, the Sichuan Transportation Bureau announced that the Sui-Yu Expressway was completed after three years of construction. After completion of the Chongqing section of the road, the 36.64 km (22.77 mi) expressway connected Cheng-Nan Expressway and formed the shortest expressway from Chengdu to Chongqing. The new expressway is 50 km (31 mi) shorter than the pre-existing road between Chengdu and Chongqing; thus journey time between the two cities was reduced by an hour, now taking two and a half hours. The Sui-Yu Expressway is a four lane overpass with a speed limit of 80 km/h (50 mph). The total investment was 1.045 billion yuan.
Major railways in Sichuan include the Baoji–Chengdu, Chengdu–Chongqing, Chengdu–Kunming, Neijiang–Kunming, Suining-Chongqing and Chengdu–Dazhou Railways. A high-speed rail line connects Chengdu and Dujiangyan.
|Chongqing was part of Sichuan Province until 1939 and 1954 to 1997.
Xikang Province dissolved in 1955 and parts were incorporated into Sichuan Province.
The majority of the province's population is Han Chinese, who are found scattered throughout the region with the exception of the far western areas. Thus, significant minorities of Tibetan, Yi, Qiang and Nakhi people reside in the western portion that are impacted by inclement weather and natural disasters, environmentally fragile, and impoverished. Sichuan's capital of Chengdu is home to a large community of Tibetans, with 30,000 permanent Tibetan residents and up to 200,000 Tibetan floating population. The Eastern Lipo, included with either the Yi or the Lisu people, as well as the A-Hmao, also are among the ethnic groups of the provinces.
Sichuan was China's most populous province before Chongqing became a directly-controlled municipality; it is currently the fourth most populous, after Guangdong, Shandong and Henan. As of 1832, Sichuan was the most populous of the 18 provinces in China, with an estimated population at that time of 21 million. It was the third most populous sub-national entity in the world, after Uttar Pradesh, India and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic until 1991, when the Soviet Union was dissolved. It is also one of the only six to ever reach 100 million people (Uttar Pradesh, Russian RSFSR, Maharashtra, Sichuan, Bihar and Punjab). It is currently 10th.
The predominant religions in Sichuan are Chinese folk religions, Taoist traditions and Chinese Buddhism. According to surveys conducted in 2007 and 2009, 10.6% of the population believes and is involved in cults of ancestors, while 0.68% of the population identifies as Christian. According to the Japanese publication Tokyo Sentaku in 1999 there were 2 million members of Yiguandao (Tiandao) in Sichuan, equal to 2.4% of the province's population.
The reports didn't give figures for other types of religion; the vast majority of the population may be either irreligious or involved in worship of nature deities, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, folk religious sects, and small minorities of Muslims. Tibetan Buddhism is widespread, especially in areas inhabited by ethnic Tibetans. Sichuan is one of the cradles of the early Heavenly Masters' Taoist religious movements.
View of the Temple of the Yellow Dragon (Chinese Buddhism) in Huanglong.
A pavilion of the Shangqing Temple (Taoist) in Qingchengshan, Chengdu.
Golden Temple of Mount Emei (Chinese Buddhism).
The Sichuanese people (Sichuanese: 巴蜀人 Ba1su2ren2; IPA: [pa55su21zən21]; alternatively 川人, 川渝人, 四川人 or 巴蜀民系) are a subgroup of Han Chinese living in mostly Sichuan province and Chongqing municipality of China. Beginning from the 9th century BC, Shu (on the Chengdu Plain) and Ba (which had its first capital at Enshi City in Hubei and controlled part of the Han Valley) emerged as cultural and administrative centers where two rival kingdoms were established. Although eventually the Qin dynasty destroyed the kingdoms of Shu and Ba, the Qin government accelerated the technological and agricultural advancements of Sichuan making it comparable to that of the Yellow River Valley. The now-extinct Ba-Shu language was derived from Qin-era settlers and represents the earliest documented division from what is now called Middle Chinese.
During the Yuan and Ming dynasties, the population of the area was reduced through wars and the bubonic plague and settlers arrived from the area of modern Hubei, replacing the earlier common Chinese with a new standard.
The Li Bai Memorial, located in Jiangyou, is a museum in memory of Li Bai, a Chinese poet of Tang China (618–907) built at the place where he grew up. Building was begun in 1962 on the occasion of 1200th 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 Tang garden.
In 2003, Sichuan had "88 art performing troupes, 185 culture centers, 133 libraries and 52 museums". Companies based in Sichuan also produced 23 television series and one film.
The Sichuanese once spoke their own variety of Spoken Chinese called Ba-Shu Chinese, or Old Sichuanese before it became extinct during the Ming dynasty. Now most of them speak Sichuanese Mandarin. The Minjiang dialects is thought by some linguists to be a bona fide descendant of Old Sichuanese, but there is no conclusive evidence whether Minjiang dialects are derived from Old Sichuanese or Southwestern Mandarin.
The language of Sichuan are primarily members of three subfamilies of the Sino-Tibetan languages.
The most widely used variety of Chinese spoken in Sichuan is Sichuanese Mandarin, which is the lingua franca in Sichuan, Chongqing and parts of Tibet Autonomous Region. Although Sichuanese is generally classified as a dialect of Mandarin Chinese, it is highly divergent in phonology, vocabulary, and even grammar from Standard Chinese. Minjiang dialect is especially difficult for speakers of other Mandarin dialects to understand.
Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in western Sichuan are populated by Tibetans and Qiang people. Tibetans speak the Khams and Amdo Tibetan, which are Tibetic languages, as well as various Qiangic languages. The Qiang speak Qiangic languages and often Tibetic languages as well. The Yi people of Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in southern Sichuan speak the Nuosu language, which is one of the Lolo-Burmese languages; Yi is written using the Yi script, a syllabary standardized in 1974. The Southwest University for Nationalities has one of China's most prominent Tibetology departments, and the Southwest Minorities Publishing House prints literature in minority languages. In the minority inhabited regions of Sichuan, there is bi-lingual signage and public school instruction in non-Mandarin minority languages.
Sichuan is well known for its spicy cuisine and use of Sichuan peppers due to its more arid climate. The Sichuanese are proud of their cuisine, known as one of the Four Great Traditions of Chinese cuisine. The cuisine here is of "one dish, one shape, hundreds of dishes, hundreds of tastes", as the saying goes, to describe its acclaimed diversity. The most prominent traits of Sichuanese cuisine are described by four words: spicy, hot, fresh and fragrant. Sichuan cuisine is popular in the whole nation of China, so are Sichuan chefs. Two well-known Sichuan chefs are Chen Kenmin and his son Chen Kenichi, who was Iron Chef Chinese on the Japanese television series "Iron Chef".
As of July 2013, the world's largest building the New Century Global Center is located in the city of Chendgu. At 328 feet (100 m) high, 1,640 feet (500 m) long, and 1,312 feet (400 m) wide, the Center houses retail outlets, a 14-theater cinema, offices, hotels, the Paradise Island waterpark, an artificial beach, a 164 yards (150 m)-long LED screen, skating rink, pirate ship, fake Mediterranean village, 24-hour artificial sun, and 15,000-spot parking area.
Professional sports teams in Sichuan include:
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