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( ; Postal map spelling: Szechwan and Szechuan) is a province (shěng) in Southwestern Chinamarker with its capital in Chengdumarker. The current name of the province, 四川 (Sìchuān), is an abbreviation of 四川路 (Sì Chuānlù), or "Four circuits of rivers", which is itself abbreviated from 川峡四路 (Chuānxiá Sìlù), or "Four circuits of rivers and gorges", named after the division of the existing circuit into four during the Northern Song Dynasty.

History

The province and its vicinity were the cradle of unique local civilizations, which can be dated back to at least the fifteenth century BC (coinciding with the later years of Shang Dynasty). Beginning from the ninth century BC, Shu (today Chengdumarker) and Ba (today Chongqing Citymarker) emerged as cultural and administrative centers where two rival kingdoms were established.

Shu's existence was unknown until an archaeological discovery in 1986 at a small village named Sanxingduimarker (三星堆 Sān Xīng Duī) in Guanghan County. It is believed to be an ancient city of the Shu Kingdom, where excavations have yielded invaluable archaeological information.

Although the Qin Dynasty destroyed the civilizations of Shu and Ba, their cultures were preserved and inherited by people in Sichuan until today. The Qin government accelerated the technological and agricultural advancements of Sichuan making it comparable to that of the Huang Hemarker (Yellow River) Valley. The Dujiangyan Irrigation Systemmarker, built in the 3rd century BC under the inspection of Li Bing, was the symbol of modernization of that period. Composed of a series of dams, it redirected the flow of the Min Jiangmarker, a major tributary of the Yangtze Rivermarker, to fields, relieving the damage of seasonal floods. The construction and various other projects greatly increased the harvest of the area which thus became the main source of provisions and men for Qin's unification of China.

Various ores were abundant. Adding to its significance, the area was also on the trade route from the Huang He Valley to foreign countries of the southwest, especially Indiamarker.

The area's military importance matches its commercial and agricultural significance. As a basinmarker surrounded by the Himalayasmarker to the west, the Qinling Range to the north, and mountainous areas of Yunnanmarker to the south, Sichuan is prone to fog. Since the Yangtze flows through the basin and is thus upstream of eastern China, navies could be easily sailed downstream. Therefore Sichuan was the base for numerous amphibious military forces and also served as the refuge of Chinese governments throughout history. A few independent regimes were founded; the most famous was Shu Han of the Three Kingdoms. The Jin Dynasty first conquered Shu Han on its path of unification. During the Tang Dynasty, it was a battlefront against Tibet.

The Southern Song Dynasty established coordinated defenses against the Mongolian Yuan Dynastymarker in Sichuan and Xiangyang. The line of defense was finally broken through after the first use of firearms in history during the six-year siege of Xiangyang, which ended in 1273.

During the Ming Dynastymarker major architectural works were created in Sichuan. Bao'en Templemarker is a well-preserved fifteenth century monastery complex built between 1440 and 1446 during Emperor Yingzong's reign (1427-64) in the Ming Dynastymarker (1368-1644). 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 periodmarker.

The Qingmarker general Zhang Xianzhong, nicknamed Yellow Tiger, conquered Sichuan Province in the middle of the 17th century. 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 20th century, as Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjingmarker, and Wuhanmarker had all been lost to the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the capital of the Republic of Chinamarker had been temporary relocated to Chongqingmarker. The difficulty of accessing the region overland from the eastern China and the foggy climate hindering the accuracy of Japanesemarker bombing of the Sichuan basinmarker and the city of Chongqingmarker made the region the stronghold of Chiang Kai-Shek's Guomindang government during 1938-45.

As the Second Sino-Japanese War was soon followed by the resumed Chinese Civil War, and the cities of the east fell to the Communists one after another, the Guomindang government again tried to make Sichuan its stronghold on the mainland. Chiang Kai-Shek himself flew to Chongqing from Taiwan in November 1949 to lead the defense. But the same month Chongqing fell to the Communists, followed by Chengdu on 10 December. The Guomindang 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 making their way there as well, via Burmamarker.

On Monday, 12 May 2008 at 2:28:01 PM local time, an earthquakemarker with a magnitude of 7.9/8.0 hit just 79 km northwest of the provincial capital of Chengdu. As of 14 May, the official Xinhua news agency reported: 14,463 people were dead, another 14,051 were missing, 25,788 were buried in the debris and 64,746 had been injured,
On 31 May, the death toll was updated to 68,467 in Sichuan with a further ~17,000 people missing, and 354,045 injured.


History of provincial borders

Sichuan's borders have remained relatively constant for the past 500 years. However, the western Tibetan regions were annexed to Sichuan in 1955. Since 1955 until 1997 it had been China's most populous province, hitting 100 million shortly after the 1982 Census figure of 99,730,000. This changed in 1997 when the city of Chongqing as well as the surrounding counties of Fuling and Wanxian were split off into the new Chongqing Municipalitymarker. The new municipality was formed to spearhead China's effort to develop its western provinces, as well as to coordinate the resettlement of residents from the reservoir areas ofthe Three Gorges Dammarker project. In 1997 when Sichuan split, the sum of the two parts was recorded to be 114,720,000 people, the only province ever to have reached 100 million people in China. Furthermore, as a subnational entity, it has only been exceeded by the former Russian SFSR of the Soviet Union and Uttar Pradeshmarker of India.

Subdivisions

Sichuan consists of eighteen prefecture-level cities and three autonomous prefectures:

Map # Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Type
1 Garzê 甘孜藏族自治州 Gānzī Zàngzú Zìzhìzhōu Autonomous prefectures
2 Ngawa marker 阿坝藏族羌族自治州 Ābà Zàngzú Qiāngzú Zìzhìzhōu Autonomous prefectures
3 Mianyangmarker 绵阳市 Miányáng Shì Prefecture-level city
4 Guangyuanmarker 广元市 Gǔangyúan Shì Prefecture-level city
5 Nanchongmarker 南充市 Nánchōng Shì Prefecture-level city
6 Bazhongmarker 巴中市 Bāzhōng Shì Prefecture-level city
7 Dazhou 达州市 Dázhōu Shì Prefecture-level city
8 Ya'anmarker 雅安市 Yǎ'ān Shì Prefecture-level city
9 Chengdumarker 成都市 Chéngdū Shì Sub-provincial city
10 Deyangmarker 德阳市 Déyáng Shì Prefecture-level city
11 Suiningmarker 遂宁市 Sùiníng Shì Prefecture-level city
12 Guang'anmarker 广安市 Guǎng'ān Shì Prefecture-level city
13 Meishanmarker 眉山市 Méishān Shì Prefecture-level city
14 Ziyangmarker 资阳市 Zīyáng Shì Prefecture-level city
15 Leshanmarker 乐山市 Lèshān Shì Prefecture-level city
16 Neijiangmarker 内江市 Nèijiāng Shì Prefecture-level city
17 Zigongmarker 自贡市 Zìgòng Shì Prefecture-level city
18 Yibinmarker 宜宾市 Yíbīn Shì Prefecture-level city
19 Luzhoumarker 泸州市 Lúzhōu Shì Prefecture-level city
20 Liangshan 凉山彝族自治州 Liángshān Yízú Zìzhìzhōu Autonomous prefectures
21 Panzhihuamarker 攀枝花市 Pānzhīhūa Shì Prefecture-level city


Geography

The area lies in the Sichuan basinmarker and is surrounded by the Himalayasmarker (喜玛拉雅山脉)to the west, Qinling (秦岭) range to the north, and mountainous areas of Yunnanmarker to the south. The Yangtze Rivermarker flows through the basin and thus is upstream to areas of eastern China. The Minjiang Rivermarker in central Sichuan is a tributary of the upper Yangtze River, which it joins at Yibin. Plate tectonics formed the Longmen Shan faultmarker, which runs under the north-easterly mountain location of the 2008 earthquakemarker.

The climate is highly variable. The Sichuan Basinmarker (including Chengdumarker) in eastern half of the province experiences a subtropical monsoon climate with long, warm to hot, humid summers and short, cool to cold, dry and cloudy winters, with China's lowest sunshine totals. The western areas have a mountainous climate characterized by very cold winters and mild summers, with plentiful sunshine. The southern part of the province, including Panzhihua, has a sunny, subtropical climate with very mild winters and hot summers.

Bordering provinces: Hubeimarker, Tibet Autonomous Region, Qinghaimarker, Gansumarker, Shaanximarker, Guizhoumarker and Yunnanmarker.

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 Provincial Committee Secretary, colloquially termed the "Sichuan CPC Party Chief".

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 canes, sweet potatoes, peaches and grapeseeds. Sichuan also had the largest output of pork among all the provinces and the second largest output of silkworm cocoons in China in 1999. Sichuan is rich in mineral resources. It has more than 132 kinds of proven underground mineral resources of which reserves of 11 kinds including vanadium, titanium, and lithium are the largest in China. The Panximarker 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.

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. Chengdumarker and Mianyangmarker are the production centers for textiles and electronics products. Deyangmarker, Panzhihuamarker, and Yibinmarker 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, Nanchongmarker, and Luzhoumarker.

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 Centermarker, located in the city of Xichangmarker.

Sichuan's beautiful landscapes and rich historical relics have also made the province a major center for tourism.

The Three Gorges Dammarker, the largest dam ever constructed, is being built on the Yangtze Rivermarker in nearby Hubeimarker province to control flooding in the Sichuan Basin, neighboring Yunnanmarker 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 2008 was 1.25 trillion yuan (US$180 billion), equivalent to 15,378 RMB (US$2,214) per capita. 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.

Foreign trade

According to the Sichuan Department of Commerce, the province's total foreign trade was US$22.04 billion in 2008, a year on year increase of 53.3 percent. Exports were US$13.1 billion, a year on year increase of 52.3 percent, while imports were US$8.93 billion, a year on year increase of 54.7 percent. These achievements were accomplished because of significant changes in China's foreign trade policy, acceleration of the yuan's appreciation, increase of commercial incentives and increase in production costs. The 18 cities and counties witnessed a steady rate of increase. Chengdu, Suining, Nanchong, Dazhou, Ya'an, Abazhou, and Liangshan all saw an increase of more than 40 percent while Leshan, Neijiang, Luzhou, Meishan, Ziyang, and Yibin saw an increase of more than 20 percent. Foreign trade in Zigong, Panzhihua, Guang'an, Bazhong and Ganzi remained constant.

Minimum wage

The Sichuan government raised the minimum wage in the province by 12.5 percent at the end of December 2007. The monthly minimum wage went up from 400 to 450 yuan, with a minimum of 4.9 yuan per hour for part-time work, effective Dec. 26 2007. The government also reduced the four-tier minimum wage structure to three. The top tier mandates a minimum of 650 yuan per month, or 7.1 yuan per hour. National law allows each province to set minimum wages independently, but with a floor of 450 yuan per month.

Economic and Technological Development Zones



Transportation

Expressways

On 3 November 2007, the Sichuan Transportation Bureau announced that the Sui-Yu Expressway was completed after three years of construction. After completion of the Chongqing section of the road, the 36.64 kilometer long Expressway connected Cheng-Nan Expressway and formed the shortest expressway from Chengdumarker to Chongqingmarker. The new expressway is 50 kilometers shorter than the pre-existing road between Chengdu and Chongqing; thus journey time between the two cities was reduced by an hour, now taking two and a half hours. The Sui-Yu Expressway is a four lane overpass with a speed limit of 80 kilometers per hour. The total investment was 1.045 billion Yuan.

Demographics

Tibetans as a main ethnic minority group in Sichuan.
The majority of the province's population is Han Chinese, who are found scattered throughout the region. Significant minorities of Tibetans, Yi, Qiang and Naxi reside in the western portion. The Eastern Lipo, included with either Yi people or 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 Chongqingmarker was carved out of it, making Henanmarker the current most populous. However, when including migrants, Guangdongmarker has a higher population than Henan.

It was the third most populous sub-national entity in the world, after Uttar Pradeshmarker, Indiamarker and the Russian SFSR until 1991 when the Soviet Unionmarker was dissolved. It is also one of the only four to ever reach 100 million people (Uttar Pradesh, Russian RSFSR, Maharashtramarker, and Sichuan). It is currently 6th.

Culture

The Li Bai Memorial, located at his birthplace, Zhongba Townmarker of northern Jiangyou County in Sichuan Province, is a museum in memory of Li Bai, a Chinese poet in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It was prepared in 1962 on the occasion of 1,200th anniversary of his death, completed in 1981 and opened to the public in October 1982. The memorial is built in the style of the classic garden of the Tang Dynasty.

Languages

Most dialects of the Chinese language spoken in Sichuan, including the Chengdu dialect of the provincial capital, belong to the southwestern subdivision of the Mandarin group, and are therefore very similar to the dialects of neighboring Yunnanmarker and Guizhoumarker provinces as well as Chongqing Municipalitymarker. Typical features shared by many southwestern Mandarin dialects include the merger of the retroflex consonants into the alveolar consonants , the merger of and , as well as the merger of into .

The prefectures of Garzê and Ngawamarker (Aba) in western Sichuan are populated predominantly by ethnic Tibetan, who speak the Kham and Amdo dialects of Tibetan. The Qiang and other related ethnicities speak the Qiangic languages, which are part of the Tibeto-Burman languages. The Yi of Liangshan prefecture in southern Sichuan speak the Yi language, which is more closely related to Burmese; Yi is written using the Yi script, a syllabary standardized in 1974.

Cuisine

The Sichuanese are proud of their cuisine, known as one of the Four Great Traditions of Chinese cuisine, which now is famous all over the world. Sichuan cuisine is of "one dish, one shape, hundreds of dishes, hundreds of tastes", as the saying goes, to describe its acclaimed diversity. The most prominent traits of Sichuanese cuisine are described by four words: spicy, hot, fresh and fragrant. Two famous Sichuan chefs are Chen Kenmin and his son Chen Kenichi, who was Iron Chef Chinese on the television series "Iron Chef".

Education

Colleges and universities



Collapse of schools during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake

See also: Allegations of corruption in the construction of Chinese schools, Collapse of schools in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake
During the 2008 Sichuan earthquakemarker, a disproportionately high number of school structures collapsed, especially in rural areas of Sichuan, leading to allegations of corruption and promises by the government for an official inquiry. However, it remains unclear whether the allegedly shoddy construction was unique to Sichuan, as opposed to a nation-wide practice that only became visible in Sichuan due to the earthquake.

Executive vice governor, Wei Hong, on 20 November 2008 confirmed that 19,065 identified schoolchildren died, and more than 90,000 were dead or missing after the earthquake. He stated that 200,000 homes had been rebuilt, and 685,000 were under reconstruction, but 1.94 million households were still without permanent shelter. 1,900 schools had been reconstructed, with initial relocation of 25 townships, including Beichuanmarker and Wenchuanmarker, two of the most devastated areas. The government spent $441 billion dollars on relief and reconstruction efforts.

Tourism

UNESCOmarker World Heritage Sites

Sports

Professional sports teams in Sichuan include:

Twin states



See also



Footnotes

  1. Origin of the Names of China's Provinces, People's Daily Online.
  2. Schuster, R.L. and G. F. Wieczorek, "Landslide triggers and types" in Landslides: Proceedings of the First European Conference on Landslides 2002 A.A. Balkema Publishers. p.66 [1]
  3. Marks, Thomas A., Counterrevolution in China: Wang Sheng and the Kuomintang, Frank Cass (London: 1998), ISBN 0714647004. Partial view on Google Books. p. 116.
  4. Strong earthquake hits southwest China
  5. Powerful earthquake shakes China
  6. Nearly 9,000 Dead in Quake
  7. USGS Earthquake Details
  8. China quake toll close to 15,000
  9. Citypopulation.de:China
  10. National Statistics Agency Tables:4-3 Total Population and Birth Rate, Death Rate and Natural Growth Rate by Region (1997)
  11. SICHUAN PROVINCE (hktdc.com)
  12. International Market Research - AUTO PARTS INDUSTRY IN SICHUAN AND CHONGQING
  13. Xinhua - English
  14. Counting the economic costs of China's earthquake_English_Xinhua
  15. Sichuanese Cuisine - Pictures, descriptions, history, and examples of Sichuan cuisine.
  16. China Raises Quake’s Student Toll
  17. Chinese official corrects figure on quake deaths


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