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Sichuan ▶ (Chinese: 侐捶; pinyin: S足chu芋n; Wade-Giles: Szŭ4-ch'uan1; Postal map spelling: Szechwan and Szechuan) is a province in western China. It borders quite a few different provinces and territories within the country, including Shaanxi to the northeast, Gansu to the north, Qinghai to the northwest, Tibet to the west, Yunnan to the south, Guizhou to the southeast, and Chongqing municipality to the east. Its provincial capital is located at Chengdu. The name Sichuan literally means "four rivers," and it stems from the fact that numerous rivers run through the province's many valleys and gorges.

Sichuan, the home of ancient civilizations and ethnic groups, sits on the lifeline of ancient China, the Yangtze River. Known, even in ancient times, as a land of abundance, Sichuan continues to serve as an agricultural center for China. The province's abundance in natural resources, including mineral deposits and hydroelectric power, have transformed the region into a combination of heavy industry and knowledge-based hi-tech industries. Sichuan's challenge, the challenge facing all of China, lay in developing abundant natural resources for a needy population without devastating the ecology of the region. That is best epitomized by the Three Gorges Dam Project.


The entire province lies in the Sichuan basin and is surrounded on all sides by mountains, with the Himalayas (炰鎖嶺捇刓闕ㄘ to the west, the Qinling (п鍛) range to the north, and the mountainous areas of Yunnan to the south. The Sichuan Basin itself covers an area of 165,000 square km, making it one of the four largest basins in China. The Yangtze River flows through the Sichuan basin and lies upstream to areas of eastern China. The Minjiang River in central Sichuan is a tributary of the upper Yangtze River, which joins the main river at Yibin.

The climate in Sichuan is often heavily foggy. Several cities are quite polluted and seldom receive sunny days.

Dzongsar Monastery, D那g那 County, Garz那 Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, China
Dzongsar Monastery, D那g那 County, Garz那 Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, China

Major Cities:

  • Chengdu
  • Deyang
  • Guang'an
  • Guangyuan
  • Leshan
  • Mianyang
  • Nanchong
  • Suining
  • Ziqong
  • Yibin

Major Rivers and Lakes:

  • Yalong River
  • Jinsha River
  • Dadu River
  • Minjiang River
  • Chishui River
  • Lugu Lake


The capital of Sichuan, Chengdu.
The capital of Sichuan, Chengdu.

Sichuan has historically been known as the "Province of Abundance," and as such, it is one of the major agricultural production bases in all of China. Grain, including rice and wheat, is the major product of the province, with output levels that ranked first in all of China in 1999. Sichuan's commercial crops include citrus fruits, sugar cane, 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. Along with its strong agricultural base, Sichuan is also rich in mineral resources. It has more than 132 kinds of underground minerals, and its reserves of vanadium, titanium, and lithium are the largest in China. The Panxi region alone possesses 13.3 percent of the reserves of iron, 93 percent of the reserves of titanium, 69 percent of vanadium, and 83 percent of the total cobalt reserves for the entire country.

Sichuan is also important as one of the major industrial bases of China. In addition to heavy industries such as coal, energy, iron and steel, the province has established a light manufacturing sector comprising building materials, wood processing, food and silk processing. Chengdu and Mianyang are the two major production bases for textiles and electronics products. Deyang, Panzhihua, and Yibin are the production bases for machinery, metallurgy industries, and wine respectively. The wine production of Sichuan accounted for 21.9 percent of the country*s total production in 2000. Great strides have been achieved in accelerating the development of Sichuan into a modern hi-tech industrial base by encouraging both domestic and foreign investments in electronics, information technology (such as software), machinery and metallurgy (including automobiles), hydropower, pharmaceutical, and the food and beverage industries. The reserves of hydropower resources in Sichuan measure roughly 150 million kw, which is second only to Tibet, and the exploitable potential is over 100 million kw, more than any other area in China. The auto industry is an especially important sector of the machinery industry in Sichuan. Most of the auto manufacturing companies are located in Chengdu, Mianyang, Nanchong, and Luzhou. Other important industries in Sichuan include aerospace and defense (military) industries. A number of China's rockets (Long March rockets) and satellites has been 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 into 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, in neighboring Yunnan province, and downstream. The plan is hailed by some as a Chinese effort to shift towards alternate energy sources and to further develop its industrial and commercial bases, but others have criticized the project for its potential harmful effects, such as the required massive resettlement of refugees, loss of archaeological sites, and ecological damage.

Sichuan's nominal GDP for 2004 was 656 billion yuan (US$81.3 billion), equivalent to 6,270 RMB (US$757) per capita. In 2005, the per capita net income of rural residents reached 2,800 yuan (US$350), up 8.6 percent year-on-year. The per capita disposable income of the urbanites averaged 8,386 yuan (US$1,048), up 8.8 percent year-on-year.

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