Yunnan, China

(External Links)

Maps of Yunnan

Map of Yunnan

Click to see full sized-map
Click to see map in English and Chinese

JohoMaps! 2005


 Map of Minority Nations in Yunnan
  Date:   Jun, 2006 (3rd Ed)
Map format:   jpeg
Dimension:   685 x 664 pixels (211 kb)
Copyright holder:   Johomaps!
Conditions of using this map:   All rights reserved.  Email for permission
Computer Specifics:   Prepared using Adobe Illustrator


Photo Essay of Yunnan


Other names of Yunnan:
Dian (short form), Yun (short form)

Adjective: Yunnanese (uncommon)

Yunnan's mountainous terrain makes it the Switzerland of Asia.  Its cultural and religious diversity is reflected in the people's clothes, songs, dances and festivals.  Twenty six nationalities are recognized by the Government of China.  Many of them are descendants of the nomadic Qiang People on the Tibetan Plateau.  Yunnan's Han Chinese culture is quite different from that of other provinces as well, most notably in their cuisine.  Despite this diversity, Yunnan has had a relatively peaceful history.  Two kingdoms dominated the area during much of Yunnan's history, the Nakhi and the Nanzhao, which later became the Kingdom of Dali.  The Nakhi became a protectorate of China in 794 AD (during the Tang Dynasty).  Like much of western China, kingdoms were crushed during invasion by the Mongols in the late 1200's and later by the Manchus.  The entire Province of Yunnan fell into the hands of the Manchus in 1723, soon after the rest of China was invaded.  The newly formed Manchu Chinese Empire (Qing Dynasty) lasted for more than 200 years.

Yunnan is probably the most culturally and ecological diverse province of China.  From the subtropical forests of the south to the foothills to the world's highest Tibetan Plateau in the north, Yunnan's diverse ecosystems is home to the more species of rhododendrons than anywhere else in the world.  From this beautiful province radiates five of Asia's most important rivers: the Yangtse flowing towards Shanghai, the Mekong towards Ho Chi Minh City, the Salween towards Rangoon, Burma, the Hong Ha towards Hanoi, Vietnam, and the Nanpan Jiang which eventually makes its way to Macau.

Many of the nations of Yunnan speak Tibeto-Burmese or Tong-Thai languages.  The Han speak Kunming dialect of Chinese.  Southern Yunnan is home to the Dai, a close relatives of the people of Thailand, the Hmong (Miao or Meo).  The western and northern mountain ranges and valleys are inhabited by Tibetans, and Nakhi (Naxi), the Bai, and many other nations.  The Old City of Lijiang displays the cultural mosaic of Northern Yunnan.  In the past, women have higher status in many of Yunnan's nations compared to the rest of China.  The Mosuo People (inhabitants of the Lugu Lake Area; close relatives of the Nakhi) display many aspects of a matriarchical society.  The City of Kunming (mostly Han) has been influenced by the other nationalities.

Yunnan Today
Kunming was the site of Expo 1999.  Its theme, unlike any other technologically-driven expos, was gardening.  The city of Lijiang and the high parallel mountain chains of western Yunnan have been declared UNESCO world heritage sites.  Yunnan has become some the most popular places by domestic Chinese travelers as well as foreign tourists.  It is no longer possible to find the serenity that Yunnan once possessed.  However, the cool climate and pedestrian-oriented cities provide a good retreat from the hustle and bustle of the rest of East Asia.

Problems and Challenges
Its proximity to the opium trade that once dominated the North of Thailand has given Yunnan a bad name.  Numerous dams have been proposed by the government along the Nu Jiang, Lancang Jiang (Mekong), and the Yangtse.  Some local farmers are worried that the dams would flood the few cultivable valleys in the region.  The rise of tourism also brings problems such as pollution and noise to the region.  In recent years, tourism and over commercialization has brought problems such as pollution and traffic congestions.  Tourism in Yunnan, having started later than coastal provinces, has shown to be less destructive than the "pioneer provinces".  Traditional architecture in cities such as Lijiang and Dali are kept intact; pollution is dealt with more vigourously.