Ynnn Shěng
Abbreviations: 滇 or 云 (pinyin: Diān or Yn)
Missing image
Yunnan is highlighted on this map

Origin of Name 云 yn - cloud
南 nn - south
"south of the Cloud Mountains"
Administration Type Province
Capital and
Largest City
CPC Yunnan Committee Secretary Bai Enpei
Governor Xu Rongkai
Area 394,100 km² (8th)
Population (2002)
 - Density
43,330,000 (12th)
110/km² (24th)
GDP (2003)
 - per capita
246.5 billion (19th)
5630 (28th)
Major Nationalities (2000) Han - 67%
Yi - 11%
Bai - 3.6%
Hani - 3.4%
Zhuang - 2.7%
Dai - 2.7%
Miao - 2.5%
Hui - 1.5%
Prefecture-level divisions 16
County-level divisions 129
Township-level divisions 1574
ISO 3166-2 CN-53

Yunnan (Template:Zh-stp) is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwestern corner of the country.



Human life has been found in Yunnan as early as 1.7 million years ago, predating Peking Man of northern China by up to 1.5 million years. The remains of "Yuanmou Man" (元谋人), unearthed by railway engineers in the 1960s, have been determined to be the oldest in China. By the neolithic period, there were human settlements in the area of Lake Dian (滇池). These people used stone tools and constructed simple wooden structures.

Around the third century BC, the central area of Yunnan around present day Kunming was known as Dian. The Chu general Zhuang Qiao (庄跤) entered the region from the upper Yangtze River and set himself up as "King of Dian". He and his followers brought into Yunnan an influx of Chinese influence, the start of a long history of migration and cultural expansion.

In 221 BC, Qin Shi Huang unified China and extend his authority south. Commanderies and counties were established in Yunnan. A existing road in Sichuan was extended south to around present day Qujing (曲靖), in eastern Yunnan - called the "Five Foot Way". In 109 BC, Emperor Wu sent General Guo Chang (郭昌) south to Yunnan, establishing Yizhou commandery and 24 subordinate counties. The commandery seat was at Dianchi county (present day Jinning 晋宁). Another county was called "Yunnan", probably the first use of the name. To expand the burgeoning trade with Burma and India, Emperor Wu also sent Tang Meng (唐蒙) to maintain and expand the Five Foot Way, renaming it "Southwest Barbarian Way" (西南夷道). By this time, agricultural technology in Yunnan had markedly improved. The local people used bronze tools, plows and kept a variety of livestock, including cattle, horses, sheep, goats, pigs and dogs. Anthropoligists have determined that these people were related to the people now known as the Thai. They lived in tribal congregations, sometimes led by exile Chinese.

During the Three Kingdoms, the territory of present day Yunnan, Yuexi (黔西) and southern Sichuan was collectively called "Nanzhong" (南中). The disollution of Chinese central authority led to increased autonomy for Yunnan and more power for the local tribal structures. In 225 AD, the famed statesman Zhuge Liang (诸葛亮) led three columns into Yunnan to pacify the tribes. His seven captures of Meng Huo (孟获), a local magnate, is much celebrated in Chinese folklore.

In the fourth century, northern China was largely overrun by peoples from Central Asia. In the 320s, the Cuan (爨) clan migrated into Yunnan. Cuan Chen (爨琛) named himself king and held authority from Dianchi (then called Kunchuan 昆川). Henceforth the Cuan clan ruled Yunnan for over four hundred years. In 738, the kingdom of Nanzhao (南诏) was established in Yunnan by Piluoge (皮罗阁), who was confirmed by the imperial court of the Tang Dynasty as "King of Yunnan". Ruling from Dali, the thirteen kings of Nanzhao ruled over more than two centuries and played a part in the dynamic relationship between China and Tibet. In 937, Duan Siping (段思平) overthrew the Nanzhao and established the kingdom of Dali. The kingdom was conquered by the Mongol and Chinese armies of Kublai Khan.

In 1894, George Ernest Morrison, an Australian correspondent for The Times, travelled from Beijing to British-occupied Burma via Yunnan. His book An Australian in China details his experiences.

From 1916 to 1917, Roy Chapman Andrews and Yvette Borup Andrews led the Asiatic Zoological Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History through much of western and southern Yunnan, as well as other provinces of China. The book Camps and Trails in China records their experiences.


Yunnan is the most southwestern province in China, with the Tropic of Cancer running through its southern part. The province has an area of 394,000 square km, 4.1 % of the nation's total. The province borders Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Guizhou Province in the east, Sichuan Province in the north, and Tibet Autonomous Region in the northwest. It shares a border of 4,060 km with Myanmar in the west, Laos in the south, and Vietnam in the southeast.

See also: Maotianshan shales


Bordering provinces are Tibet, Sichuan, Guizhou and Guangxi. Bordering countries are Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.


The highest point in the north is the Kawagebo Peak in Deqin County on the Diqing Plateau, which is about 6,740 meters high; and the lowest is in the Honghe River Valley in Hekou County, with an elevation of 76.4 meters.


Several major rivers flow through the province, including:

Natural resources

Yunnan abounds in natural resources. It is known as the kingdom of plants, animals and home of non-ferrous metals and medicinal herbs.

The province not only has more plant species of tropical, subtropical, temperate, and frozen zones than any other province in the country, but also has many ancient, derivative plants, as well as species introduced from foreign countries. Among the 30,000 species of plants in China, 18,000 can be found in Yunnan.

More than 150 kinds of minerals have been discovered in the province. The potential value of the proven deposits in Yunnan is 3 trillion yuan, 40 % of which come from fuel minerals, 7.3 % from metallic minerals, and 52.7 % from nonmetallic minerals.

Yunnan has proved deposits of 86 kinds of minerals in 2,700 places. Some 13 % of the proved deposits of minerals are the largest of their kind in China, and two-thirds of the deposits are among the largest of their kind in the Yangtze River valley and in south China. Yunnan ranks first in the country in deposits of zinc, lead, tin, cadmium, indium, thallium, and crocidolite.

Yunnan has sufficient rainfall and many rivers and lakes. The annual water flow originating in the province is 200 cubic kilometers, three times that of the Yellow River. The rivers flowing into the province from outside add 160 cubic kilometers, which means there are more than 10,000 cubic meters of water for each person in the province. This is four times the average in the country. The rich water resources offer abundant hydro-energy.

Yunnan is attractive with its rich tourism resources, including beautiful landscape, colorful ethnic customs, and a pleasant climate.

Population and ethnicity

Total population: 43.33 million (2002)

Population growth rate: 10.6

Life expectancy (average): 65.1 years (male) and 67.7 years (female) (1995)


Yunnan has the highest number of ethnic groups among all provinces and autonomous regions in China. Among the country's 56 ethnic groups, 25 are found in Yunnan. Some 38.07 % of the province's population are members of minorities including the Yi, Bai, Hani, Zhuang, Dai, Miao, Lisu, Hui, Lahu, Va, Naxi, Yao, Tibetan, Jingpo, Blang, Pumi, Nu, Achang, Jino, Mongolian, Drung, Manchu, Shui, and Bouyei. Each minority has at least 8,000 people.

Ethnic groups are widely distributed in the province. Some 25 minorities live in compact communities, each of which has a population of more than 5,000. Ten ethnic minorities living in border areas and river valleys include the Hui, Manchu, Bai, Naxi, Mongolian, Zhuang, Dai, Achang, Bouyi and Shui, with a combined population of 4.5 million; those in low mountainous areas are the Hani, Yao, Lahu, Va, Jingpo, Blang and Jino, with a combined population of 5 million; and those in high mountainous areas are Miao, Lisu, Tibetan, Pumi and Drung, with a total population of 4 million.


By the end of 1998, among the province's population, 419,800 had received college education or above, 2.11 million, senior middle school education, 8.3 million, junior middle school education, 18.25 million, primary school education, and 8.25 million aged 15 or above, illiterate or semi-literate.


GDP: 246.5 billion yuan (2003) 29.7 billion USD

GDP growth rate: 8.1 %

Average GDP per capita: 5,630 yuan (2003) 680 USD

GDP ratio (1st, 2nd and tertiary industries): 21.1 : 42.8 : 36.1

Industrial added value: 77.8 billion yuan in 2002, up by 9.2% over the previous year

Revenue: 20.67 billion yuan (2002)

Foreign trade

Yunnan has trade contacts with more than 70 countries and regions in the world. It mainly exports tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment, chemical and agricultural products and non-ferrous metals. In 2002 its total imports and exports reached US$2.23 billion.

Foreign investment

In 2002, the province signed direct foreign investment contracts involving US$333 million. US$112 million were actually utilized during the year.

Pillar industries

Four pillar industries involve tobacco, biology, mining and tourism.

Unemployment rate: 4% (2002)

Poverty alleviation plan

Yunnan is one of China's undeveloped provinces with more poverty-stricken counties than other province. In 1994, about 7 million people lived below the poverty line of less than an annual average income of 300 yuan per capita. They were distributed in the province's 73 counties mainly and financially supported by the central government.

With an input of 3.15 billion yuan in 2002, the absolutely poor rural population in the province has been reduced from 4.05 million in 2000 to 2.86 million.

The poverty alleviation plan includes five large projects aimed at improving infrastructure facilities. They involve soil improvement and water conservation, electric power, roads and "green belt" building. Upon the completion of the projects, the province will solve the problem of shortages of grain, water, electric power and roads and improve ecological conditions.



The 886 km first-level national railway from Nanning to Kunming links Yunnan with Guizhou Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Second-level railways include those from Guangtong to Dali, and from Kunyang to Yuxinan.


Second-level national highways stretch 958 km, third-level highways, 7,571 km and fourth-level highways, 52,248 km. The province has formed a network of communication lines radiating from Kunming to Sichuan and Guizhou provinces and Guangxi and Tibet autonomous regions, and further on to Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.


In 1995, the province put an investment of 171 million yuan to add another 807 km of navigation lines. It built 2 wharfs with an annual handling capacity of 300,000-400,000 tons each and 4 wharfs with an annual handling capacity of 100,000 tons each. The annual volume of goods transported was 2 million tons and that of passengers transported, 2 million.


The province has 19 domestic air routes from Kunming to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Haikou, Chongqing, Shenyang, Harbin, Wuhan, Xi'an, Lanzhou, Hangzhou, Xiamen, Nanning, Shenzhen, Guiyang, Changsha, Guilin and Hong Kong; three provincial air routes from Kunming to Jinghong, Mangshi and Simao; and three international air routes from Kunming to Bangkok, Yangon and Vientiane.

The Wujiaba Airport in Kunming is a national first-class airport and Xishuangbanna, Mangshi and Simao airports are second-class terminals.


Ethnic groups include:


One of Yunnan's famous products is Pu-erh tea, named after the town of Pu-erh, as well as the Yunnan Golden Needle tea.


Tourist centres in Yunnan include

Sporting teams

Professional sporting teams in Yunnan include:

External links

Province-level divisions administered by the People's Republic of China Missing image
Flag of the People's Republic of China

Provinces¹: Anhui | Fujian | Gansu | Guangdong | Guizhou | Hainan | Hebei | Heilongjiang | Henan | Hubei | Hunan | Jiangsu | Jiangxi | Jilin | Liaoning | Qinghai | Shaanxi | Shandong | Shanxi | Sichuan | Yunnan | Zhejiang
Autonomous Regions: Guangxi | Inner Mongolia | Ningxia | Tibet | Xinjiang
Municipalities: Beijing | Chongqing | Shanghai | Tianjin
Special Administrative Regions: Hong Kong | Macau
¹ See also: Political status of Taiwan

fr:Yunnan ja:雲南省 fi:Yunnan pt:Yunnan ru:Юньнань zh:云南


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