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    Economy

    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.[35] Sichuan also possesses China's largest proven natural gas reserves, the majority of which is transported to more developed eastern regions.[28]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.The auto industry is an important and key sector of the machinery industry in Sichuan. Most of the auto manufacturing companies are located in Chengdu, Mianyang, Nanchong, and Luzhou.[36]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.[37] 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.

    Transport

    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.

    Politics

    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".

    Geography

    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.[34] 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.

    Demographics

    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.[54] 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.[55] 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.

    History

    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.Ba stretched into Sichuan from the Han Valley in Shaanxi and Hubei down the Jialing River as far as its confluence with the Yangtze at Chongqing.[6]Shu occupied the valley of the Min, including Chengdu and other areas of western Sichuan.[6] 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.[7] 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),[8][9] 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.[10] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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 Henguduan 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.[citation needed]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.[12]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.The next strongly centralized government of China, the Song dynasty (960–1279), was able to protect Sichuan from Tibetan attacks and the region saw a cultural revival with the literary works of Su Xun (蘇洵), Su Shi, and Su Zhe.[13]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.[14] 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 Ming dynasty defeated Ming Yuchen's Xia polity which ruled Sichuan.[15]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.[16]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 native population.[17] 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.[21]During the Qing dynasty, Sichuan was merged with Shaanxi and Shanxi to create "Shenzhuan" during 1680-1731 and 1735-1748.[13] 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.[19]A landslide dam on the Dadu River caused by an earthquake gave way on 10 June 1786. The resulting flood killed 100,000 people.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.[23] 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.[13]The province was deeply affected by the Great Chinese Famine of 1959–1961, during which period some 9.4 million people (13.07% of the population at the time) died.[25]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.[26] 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 1997 when Sichuan split, the sum of the two parts was recorded to be 114,720,000 people.[27] As of 2010, Sichuan ranks as both the 3rd largest and 4th most populous province in China.[28]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.

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