The Land of Abundance - Sichuan Province
Sichuan Province is located in China's western hinterland, and the western part of which is composed of numerous traverse mountain chains with firn all the year round extending to the Tibetan Plateau. It borders Chongqing in the east going straightly to the middle and mower reaches of the Yangtze River through the Three Gorges. Sichuan connects with Ch’in Ridge and Ba Mountain in the north linking Central Plains by steep flagging paths that serve as a boundary for south and north China in terms of geography. It borders Guizhou and Yunnan Plateau in the south that can reach Burma, India and Central Asia. Since ancient times, Sichuan is known as the natural link connecting northwest and southwest of China, and the juncture of famous north and south “Silk Roads”. It is situated at the upper branch of the two Mother Rivers of the Chinese Nation — the Yangtze River and Yellow River. Sichuan province is the main part of the economic region for Yangtze River drainage area, also plays an essential role of ecological barrier for this drainage area. Sichuan has a vast territory across 1,075 km from east to the west and 900 km from north to south with an area of 485,000 km². The landform of Sichuan Province is complex with a wide variety of landscapes including great rivers, rivulets, lakes, swamps, plains, basins, hills, plateaux, ravines, snow apices and glaciers. The topographic character of it is high in the west and low in the east, and wide gap in height. The western part is a plateaux and mountainous region with Gongga Mountain at an altitude of 7,556 m, while the eastern part features basin and edge hilly land only about 250 m over sea level at its lowest place. The height difference between these two parts is over 7,300 m. The large gap of hypsography in Sichuan province is very infrequent in China, and it is especially unique that the entire original environment is preserved in traverse mountain chains of west Sichuan.
Sichuan is the home of many ethnic groups. Except the Han nationality, there are fourteen minorities, such as Yi, Tibetan, Qiang, Hui, Mongolian, Lisu, Man, Naxi, Bai, Buyi, Dai, Miao, Zhuang and Tujia etc. It deserves the title of a multi ethnic province. Tens of nationalities migrated, multiplied, and live in the Hengduan mountain areas in the west of Sichuan province. Thus, it is called “the corridor of ethnic groups”. The Tibet population in Sichuan is the 2nd one in China. It is also the largest residing place of Yi and the only living place of Qiang.
Sichuan has a long history, and “Ziyang people” have been living there since 10 to 50 thousand years. In the period of Xia (21st - 16th cent. BC) and Shang (16th - 11th cent. BC), two clans named Ba and Shu set up biggish countries runned separetely by an enslavement system. In the ancient history, it is purported that Can Cong and Yu Fu were ancestor kings of ancient Shu. From The Sanxingdui and Jinsha Ruins, archaeologists cleared people’s puzzle for the purported mythes, and proved the ancient Shu kingdom had entered the agriculture society in the period of the Shang (16th - 11th cent. BC) and Zhou (11 cent. – 221 BC) or even earlier. The Kingdom built several primary cities and the capital of it on a grand scale, which formed a splendid regional Bronze Civilization.
In the Qin Dynasty, the area was set up as the Shu Prefecture and the Ba Prefecture. Gujiang Dam Irrigation Project was constructed under the direction of the prefect Li Bing and his son. Since then, Chengdu Plain was nicknamed “Land of Abundance because floods and droughts follow the will of people; nobody dies from hunger; and no famine occurs”. At that time, copper and iron production had also developed, and people began to exploit salt wells on grand scale organizationally. Therefore, Sichuan became the earliest salt wells place exploited on scale all over the world.
Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) carried forward the system of the Qin, and also improved it. Regional inspector Wen Weng of Yi Region set up a government-run school in Chengdu, and carried out governmental education system in the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 24). As the school was built in stones, it was called "Stone Chamber". During the Han era, academic thoughts were active there, prose and odes were famous, both astronomy and regular calendar were studied at an advanced level, Philosophy of Huang Lao and Zhou Yi was popular, and Taoism was founded in Heming Mountain. Thanks to the constant expanding areas irrigated by Gujiang Dam, Chengdu Plain became a major place of rice production. Sichuan was also the earliest place in drilling and using natural gas and petroleum all over the world; and the key center of iron smelting and silk weaving in China. Tea, silk and Shu cloth were transported from China to India through the famous "Shu Channel" (called south “Silk Road”). Chengdu had become one of the five most developed and prosperous cities, which was named “Western City”.
During the Three Kingdoms (220 -280), Liu Bei set up the Shu han Kingdom (AD 221 - 263) of the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220-280) in Chengdu. Prime Minister Zhuge Liang took in charge the kingdom affairs, strictly enforced nomocracy, made great efforts to develop production, and carried out proper policies for minorities, which ensured social stability; people lived and worked in peace and contentment. Thanks to his outstanding merits and splendid achievements, the Temple of Marquis Wu was built as a shrine dedicated to Zhuge Liang in old cypresses out of the Brocade City.
During the Sui and Tang Dynasties (581 -618) (618 - 907), Sichuan was known as Jiannan Circuit, economy and culture developed fast, literature there came on to prosperity, and stone carving art had got a high degree of professional proficiency. The levels and skills for silk weaving, paper making, engraving printing, salt production and mines smelting were far beyond the former dynasty, which became famous not only in domestic countryChina but also overseas. Yi Region (Chengdu) and Yang Region were regarded as the most prosperous and sybaritic places in the country, like the history recorded “Yang Region is the top one and Yizhou takes the second place” , “Shu land is abundant, camails and soldiers are full”. At the time of An-Shi Rebellion (755 - 763) and Huang Cao Insurgence, the emperors of the Tang Dynasty all selected Sichuan to avoid rebellions; therefore, Chengdu was called “South Capital”.
During the Five Dynasties (907 - 960), emperor of Later Shu (934 - 965) Meng Chang ordered people to grow Hibiscuses all over Chengdu because he loved that. When Hibiscus flowers bloomed, people can see flowers as beautiful as rosy clouds all around the city. The whole city was colorful, and then Chengdu got the nickname “Hibiscus City”.
Under the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279), this area was split into four circuits - Yi Region, Zi Region, Li Region and Kui Region, called “Sichuan Circuits”. The prosperous level of economy and culture in Sichuan was the same as that in the capital city, taxes and foodstuff occupied one third of total in the country; Shu brocade in this period was excellent, and the printing was the number one all over the country. Shu block-printed edition books were famous for bold and vigorous strokes, thinly scattered and cheerful format. The existent original edition was considered as a treasure in the history of world printing. “Father and Two Sons with the same family name, Su” from Mei Mountain were known by people at that time, and were listed in “Eight Great Masters for Ancient Prose in Tang and Song Dynasty”. Chengdu also printed the world's earliest paper money - "Jiaozi" instead of copper cash. It reflected the advanced level of Chengdu's economic development and commercial prosperity. The appearance of "Jiaozi" was a splendid mark in the history of the world economy, printing and fine arts.
Sichuan provincial status was achieved during the Ming (1368 - 1644), and the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) administered Western Sichuan plateau and Liangshan region. During the three dynasties of Yuan, Ming and Qing, Sichuan endured big chaos caused by war, and its economy and culture suffered a disastrous decline. Under the Republic of China (1911 - 1949), government set up a province named Xikang in the west part of Sichuan province. And through modern times, reform movements and revolutions stopped and started over and over again. “Rails Protection Tussle” turned into the primer of Wuchang Uprising and Revolution of 1911; then Central Red Army began its Long March, they climbed over jokuls and crossed through meadows, which shocked the world.
When the People’s Republic of China was founded, the government repealed Xikang province, setting counties east of Jinsha River to Sichuan, while Changdu areas west of Jinsha River to Tibet. In 1997, Sichuan and Chongqing were divided, with Chongqing City, Wanxian City, Fuling City and Qinjiang given to Chongqing municipality. Nowadays, Sichuan Province has administrative jurisdiction over one subordinate province level city - Chengdu，17 prefecture-level cities - Zigong, Panzhihua, Luzhou, Deyang, Mianyang, Guangyuan, Suining, Neijiang, Leshan, Nanchong, Yibin, Guang’an, Dazhou, Bazhong, Ya’an, Meishan and Ziyang, three minority autonomous regions - A’ba, Ganzi and Liangshan. The capital city of it is Chengdu.