Map of Yunnan,China map, Yunnan map Tibet Sichuan Guizhou Guangxi Burma Vietnam Laos

Yunnan Province

Name (yún nán) ['cloud' 'south']
CapitalKunming
Population47.003 million (3.42 %) [12th] comparison table
Area394,000 km2 [152,123 mile2] (4.11 %) [8th]
GDP27,264 (5.12 %) [31st]
Position of Yunnan in China
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Google map of Yunnan
Beijing Tianjin Shanghai Hong Kong Xinjiang Tibet Qinghai Gansu Inner Mongolia Heilongjiang Jilin Liaoning Yunnan Sichuan Guangxi Hainan Taiwan Guangdong Guizhou Chongqing Ningxia Shandong Fujian Zhejiang Shaanxi Shanxi Hebei Henan Hunan Hubei Jiangxi Anhui Jiangsu

Neighbors

Sichuan Tibet Guizhou Guangxi Vietnam Burma Laos

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Yunnan means literally Clouds south, and it is an appropriate name because warm tropical air from the south is funneled up the narrow steep valleys giving them rich and exotic vegetation in the mist laden air. Yunnan remains a popular tourist destination that is somewhat off the beaten track.

For more on the diverse range of peoples who inhabit China please see our Peoples section.

Yunnan's position on the mountain borders of Vietnam; Laos and Burma (Myanmar) have made it the refuge of many different tribes of people including Hui; Tibetan; Miao; Yi; Zhuang; Yao; Bai; Hani; Jinuo; Nu and Dai (among others) all with their own languages and traditions. They hold their own festivals too : March Fair of the Bai people; Water-splashing Festival of the Dai people and the Torch Festival of the Yi people.

Buddhism , Dali, Yunnan, temple
Chongsheng Temple, Dali, Yunnan

Yunnan History

Evidence from archeological finds from Yuanmou take the story of hominid habitation back 1.7 million years. After conquest by China in the Han dynasty, Yunnan became independent again as part of the Nanzhao Kingdom and then the Kingdom of Dali , it did not become fully integrated into China until the Yuan dynasty (13th century). In the 19th century it became a target for the expansionist ambitions of the French Indo-Chinese Empire but the plan never quite came to fruition. A long rebellion by Muslim leader Du Wenxiu 1858-73 led to much bloodshed. Yunnan was the first province to rebel against Yuan Shikai's seizure of Imperial power in 1916. During the Second World War the Burma Road cut through the Yunnan mountains to Kunming and then on to Chongqing, bringing vital supplies to the besieged city, then the capital of Free China. There were resistance to Communist rule in the early years of the PRC, at times fueled by the growing of opium in the valleys which the Communists had banned.

Places to visit in Yunnan

Kunming's lofty height and low latitude at 6,214 feet [1,894 meters] makes it warm all year round (82 ° F [28 ° C]) Lake Dian is overlooked by Daguan (Grand View) Hall on the western outskirts of the city; and is one of the largest freshwater lakes in China. To the west Xi Shan (Western Hill) offers a steep climb of 1,333 steps cut into a cliff. There are several temples and pavilions on the way to the top with impressive views over Lake Dian. Qiongzhu (Bamboo) Temple is the most famous in Yunnan. Kunming also boasts Jindian (Golden Hall) built in 1671, although it is actually built in bronze rather than gold. Yuantong Temple is a Buddhist site of pilgrimage.

Yunnan, Dai minority, Kunming, temple
Temple of the Dai people, Kunming, Yunnan

The Stone Forest at Shilin to the south-east is a popular tourist site full of gray limestone pillars the size of tree trunks. The Peak Viewing Pavilion provides a panoramic view of the extensive area. Xiaguan (Dali) is an important town on the former Burma Road link into China. It is famous for its three Pagodas (Dali Santa). Er Hai (Ear lake) is picturesque with fishermen using tame cormorants to catch fish. Lijiang is a popular tourist spot, made famous by a British documentary series called Beyond the Clouds ; it is at a high altitude 8,530 feet [2,600 meters] and home to Nakhi minority people . The impressive gorge of the Jinsha (Golden Sands river, better known as Yangzi) River is one of many sights to be seen in Yunnan. The Golden Sands River was where the Communist Army crossed the Yangzi during the Long March. Further downstream, the town of Dukou (Panzhihua) marks the navigable limit of the Yangzi (Chang Jiang) river. Zhongdian in northern Yunnan has renamed itself ‘Shangrila’ to reflect an association with James Hilton 's famous novel about a paradise hidden in the mountains. However, the more likely setting for the fabled city of Shangrila is the sacred mountain Kawagarbo 22,113 feet [6,740 meters] on the Tibetan border near Deqin and sacred to Tibetan Buddhists.

Yunnan, mountains, waterfall
Jade Dragon Mountain in Lijiang, Yunnan

In the far south of Yunnan is Xishuang Banna , a gem of a nature reserve containing China's only tropical rain forest. For thousands of years there have been a variety of mountain people living in the luxuriant forest. The steep mountain sides have protected the area from cultivation (except for a few rubber plantations). Many exotic and rare plants grow here together with a range of different species of monkey and also elephants. Some of China's only active volcanoes are in the far west - the Tengchong Volcanoes . Gejiu in southern Yunnan is well known for its extensive tin; copper and lead mines. It was the extensive tin deposits that brought the interest of European powers to the area (particularly France) in the nineteenth century.

Yunnan, stone forest, landform
Stone Forest (Shilin) Yunnan

Geography

Yunnan has pockets of rich farmland among the forests on the steeper slopes where tobacco is an important crop. Warm summers; frost free winters and moderate rainfall makes it ideal for crop growing but only on the very limited areas of flat land along the many river valleys. The deep valleys that cut north-south through the province make travel very difficult, the roads having to double back frequently. Industry is concentrated around the capital Kunming. The province has great scenic beauty making it an increasingly popular tourist attraction throughout the year.

Yunnan Climate

Temperature axisClimate ChartRainfall axis
Climate chart for Yunnan
Both Temp Rainfall ° C/mms ° F/ins Key
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Major CitiesPopulation
Kunming 1,734,300
Lijiang 1,244,769

Airports

Xishuangbanna Gasa Airport 西双版纳嘎洒机场 JHG IATA / ZPJH ICAO
The airport has 1 terminal and is located 3.7 miles (6.0 kms) from Jinghong
See map of location Xishuangbanna Gasa Airport
Lijiang Sanyi Airport 丽江三义机场 LJG IATA / ZPLJ ICAO
The airport has 1 terminal and is located 15.5 miles (25.0 kms) from Lijiang
See map of location Lijiang Sanyi Airport
Kunming Changshui International Airport 昆明长水国际机场 KMG IATA / ZPPP ICAO
The airport has 1 terminal and is located 15.5 miles (25.0 kms) from Kunming
International Links to :Thailand
See map of location Kunming Changshui International Airport
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Citation information: Chinasage, 'Yunnan, China', last updated 12 Oct 2015, Web, http://www.chinasage.info/maps/yunnan.htm.

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