Open Governance
Sichuan Overview

  Natural-Geographic Features

  Nestled in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, Sichuan is a province in southwest China. The province ranges in longitude from 92°21′ to 108°12′ E, while its latitude ranges from 26°03′ to 34°19′ N, stretching for over 1075km from east to west and over 900km south to north. Sichuan borders Chongqing to the east, Yunnan and Guizhou to the south, Tibet to the west, and Qinghai, Gansu and Shaanxi to the north. It administers 486,000 km2 of land, ranking the fifth largest province in China next to Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia and Qinghai.

  Due to great differences in terrain, the landscape of Sichuan is highly variable from the east to the west. Sichuan stands at the first and second levels of the three major levels of the Chinese mainland terrain, in other words, it situates at the transitional zone between the first level, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and the second level, the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River. It features high altitude at the west and low altitude at the east, with striking differences. The western Sichuan consists of numerous mountains and plateaus, with an altitude of over 4,000m; the eastern Sichuan consists of basins and hills, with an altitude ranging from 1,000m to 3,000m. The province can be divided into three parts: Sichuan Basin, Northwest Sichuan Plateau and Mountainous Area of Southwest Sichuan.

  The Sichuan Basin in the east is one of the four major basins in China with an area of 165,000 km2. The basin is surrounded by the Qinling Mountains to the north, Micang Mountain and Daba Mountains to the east, Dalou Mountains to the south, and Longmen Mountains and Qionglai Mountains to the northwest. It is endowed with a warm and humid climate which is fairly mild in winters and rather hot in summers. Its annual precipitation in most areas ranges from 900 mm to 1,200 mm. It experiences a humid subtropical monsoon climate covered with subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forest. Its agriculture yields two crops in a year. The western part of the basin is the Western Sichuan Plain, boasting fertile land and serving as the area for gravity irrigation of Dujiangyan with high productivity of land. The central part of the basin is the purple hilly region with an altitude ranging from 400 m to 800m, lowering slightly to the south with the Minjiang River, the Tuojiang River, the Fujiang River and the Jialing River flowing southward into the Yangtze River from the northern mountains. The eastern part of the basin is the Paralleled Ridge-Valley of Eastern Sichuan, which consists of Huaying Mountain, Tongluo Mountain and Mingyue Mountain.

  The northwest of the basin is the Northwest Sichuan Plateau, forming the easternmost part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at 3,000 m to 5,000m above sea level. Covered with meadows, it experiences a plateau climate.

  The southwest of the basin is the northern section of the Hengduan Mountains which feature steep mountains and deep valleys, stretching and alternating from north to south. Those stretches from east to west are Minshan Mountain, Minjiang River, Qionglai Mountain, Dadu River, Daxue Mountain, Ya-lungRiver, Shaluli Mountain and Jinsha River. The plants of different climates are vertically distributed, mainly consisting of the coniferous forests of the frigid zone, mixed broadleaf-conifer forests of the temperate zone, the mixed evergreen-deciduous forests of the northern subtropical zone, and the evergreen broad-leaved forests of the mid-subtropical zone.

  Urban Demographic-Geographical Features

  Sichuan enjoys an accelerated urbanization, but it is still lower than the national average. In the late 1970s, Sichuan's urbanization sped up, and by the end of 2018, Sichuan administered 35 cities, including one sub-provincial city, 17 prefecture-level cities and 17 county-level cities. In 2018, Sichuan saw 920,000 newborns, with a birth rate of 11.05‰; Sichuan saw 583,000 deaths, giving a mortality rate of 7.01‰: the natural population growth rate stood at 4.04‰. By the end of 2018, the population of permanent residents in Sichuan was 83.41 million, an increase of 390,000 over that at the end of 2017 (the same below), including 43.615 million urban residents and 39.795 million rural residents. The urbanization rate was 52.29%, an increase of 1.5 percentage points over that at the end of 2017.

  Great changes were seen in the sizes of cities and designated towns, and, although the level of urbanization had been improved, the city size system required further improvement. In addition to the further development of central cities including Chengdu, Panzhihua, Mianyang and Deyang, the urbanization rate exceeded 40% in other cities including Luzhou, Nanchong, Meishan, Yibin, Suining, Leshan, Neijiang, Ya'an, Guangyuan, Dazhou, Zigong, Ziyang, Guang'an and Bazhong, promoting the formation of a four-level city system: Chengdu as a megacity, Mianyang, Nanchong and Luzhou as big cities, Yibin, Neijiang, Suining, Meishan and Leshan as medium-sized cities, Guanghan, Jiangyou and Langzhong as small cities. Among the 35 cities, there was one city with more than two million people, and the rest were mainly small and medium-sized cities. Sichuan lacks cities with a population of one million to two million or a population of 500,000 to one million people, causing an obvious fault effect. The cities are mainly nestled in eastern Sichuan: specifically, the number of cities in the eastern area accounts for 91.43% of the total number of Sichuan's cities, however, there are only five cities in the western area, namely, Panzhihua, Ya'an, Xichang, Kangding and Maerkang. Sichuan's eastern area and Chongqing region have formed the region with the most dense city distribution in western China, as well as the fourth largest city cluster in China after the Yangtze River delta, the Pearl River Delta and the Beijing-Tianjin-Tanggu region; in 2011, it was approved as Chengdu-Chongqing economic zone.

  The primate city plays a prominent role. Chengdu, Sichuan's capital city, one of China's 15 sub-provincial cities, as well as one of China's nine national central cities, serves as the Sichuan's largest center of economy, culture, science and technology, education center, as well as Sichuan's transportation and communication hub. Sichuan's population, industries, capitals, technologies, information and talent are highly concentrated in Chengdu, bringing obvious polarization effect: with a land area that only accounts for 2.95% of that of Sichuan, Chengdu was home to 19.58% of Sichuan's permanent residents and achieved a GDP accounting for 37.72% of Sichuan's total in 2018. On October 14, 2014, the State Council approved the establishment of Tianfu New Area, which, located in the south by east of the downtown area of Chengdu, has a planned area of 1,578 km2, covering seven counties (county-level cities, districts) under the jurisdiction of Chengdu, Meishan and Ziyang.

  Other cities feature their local characteristics. Miangyang is the "western sci-tech city", Xichang is the "science & satellite city", Panzhihua is the "steel city", Zigong is the "salt city", Nanchong is the "home of silk", and Deyang is a manufacturing center. Yibin and Luzhou are not only reputed as "city of liquor", but also function as the land and water transportation hubs. Cities including Leshan, Emeishan, Dujiangyan, Xichang and Langzhong are famous tourist cities.

  Water Resources

  The average annual precipitation in Sichuan is about 488.975 billion m3. Known as the "Province of Thousand Rivers", its water resources are the most abundant in rivers with nearly 1,400 large and small rivers in the territory. The total water resources of Sichuan is about 348.97 billion m3, of which the average annual natural river runoff is 254.75 billion m3, accounting for 73% of the total water resources; the upstream inflow water is 94.22 billion m3, accounting for 27% of the total water resources; the groundwater resources are 54.69 billion m3 and the recoverable amount is 11.5 billion m3. Sichuan is scattered with more than 1,000 lakes and more than 200 glaciers. There are swamps in the northwestern Sichuan and southwest Sichuan. The water storage capacity of lakes is about 1.5 billion m3, plus the amount of water stored in the swamp, it totaled 3.5 billion m3.

  The general features of Sichuan's water resources: the total amount is abundant, the per capita water resources is higher than the national average, but the spatial and temporal distribution is uneven, forming regional water shortage and seasonal water shortage; water resources are the most abundant in river runoff, but the season of runoff is uneven distributed, mostly concentrated in June to October, floods and droughts occur occasionally; rivers have twists and turns, which are conducive to agricultural irrigation; natural water quality is good, but some areas are polluted.

  Biological Resources

  Sichuan has a wide variety of wild plant resources, with more than 10,000 species of higher plants, accounting for about onethird of the country's total, second only to Yunnan, ranking the second in China. Specifically, Sichuan is home to more than 500 species of bryophytes, over 1,620 genera of more than 230 families of vascular plants, 708 species of ferns, more than 100 species of gymnosperms (including varieties), over 8,500 species of angiosperms, 87 species of pine, cedar and cypress plants, ranking the first in China. There are 84 species listed as rare and endangered plants, accounting for 21.6% of the country’s total. There are more than 5,500 kinds of wild economic plants, including more than 4,600 kinds of medicinal plants. The Chinese herbal medicines produced in Sichuan account for one third of China’s total output of medicinal materials. It is the largest Chinese herbal medicine base in China; it has more than 300 aromatic plants. It is the country's largest aromatic oil producing area; in Sichuan grow more than 100 species of wild fruits, among which kiwifruit is the most abundant, ranking the first in China; the species of wild fungi total 1,291, accounting for 95% of national total. By the end of 2018, Sichuan's forest coverage rate was 38.83%, representing an increase of 0.80 percentage points over that at the end of 2017 (the same below).

  Sichuan is home to nearly 1,300 species of vertebrates, accounting for more than 45% of the national total, and 53% of the country's animals and birds, including 217 species of mammals, 625 species of birds, 84 species of reptiles, 90 species of amphibians, and 230 species of fish. Sichuan has 145 species of wildlife under national priority protection, accounting for 39.6% of the national total and ranking the highest in China. According to the Fourth National Giant Panda Survey, the number of wild giant pandas in Sichuan Province is 1,387, accounting for 74.4% of the total number of wild giant pandas in the country, ranking first in the country. More than 50% of the animals in Sichuan are available for economic use, including more than 200 species of animals used for fur, leather and feather, and more than 340 species of animals used for medicine. There are 20 species of cockroaches in Sichuan, accounting for 40% of the national total. Among them, many are rare and endangered mites, such as the national first-class protected animals Chestnut-throated Partridge, Sichuan Partridge and Chinese Monal.

  Energy Resources

  Sichuan is rich in energy resources, mainly including hydroenergy, coal and natural gas, with hydroenergy resources accounting for about 75%, coal resources accounting for about 23.5%, and natural gas and oil resources accounting for about 1.5%.

  Theoretically, Sichuan has a reserve of hydroenergy resources of 143 million kilowatts, accounting for 21.2% of the country, second only to Tibet. Specifically, technically available hydroenergy resources are 103 million kilowatts, accounting for 27.2% of the country; economically available hydroenergy resources reaches 76.112 million kilowatts, accounting for 31.9% of the country, whichboth rank the first in the country, making Sichuan China's largest hydropower development and power transmission base. The hydroenergy resources are concentrated in the three major river systems of Dadu River, Jinsha River and Ya-lung River in the southwestern Sichuan Basin, accounting for about twothirds of Sichuan's hydroenergy resources. They represent the country's largest hydropower “reservoir”. The amount of technical available hydropower energy resources accounts for more than 79.2% of the theoretical reserves and 80% of Sichuan's technically available hydroenergy resources.

  Sichuan boasts coal resources of 12.27 billion tons, which are mainly distributed in southern Sichuan. The southern Sichuan coalfields in Luzhou City and Yibin City have accumulated more than 70% of the province's proven reserves. Sichuan's coal includes anthracite, meagre coal, lean coal, bituminous coal, lignite, and peat. Oil and gas resources mainly contain natural gas, while there is a small amount of oil resources. The Sichuan Basin is one of the major oil-bearing basins in China. The proven natural gas reserves in Sichuan, mainly distributed in southern Sichuan, northwestern Sichuan, middle Sichuan, and northeastern Sichuan, totaling more than seven trillion cubic meters, accounting for about 19% of the national total. Sichuan's bioenergy is composed of an annual development and utilization of human and animal feces of 31,485,300 tons, fuelwood of 11,890,300 tons, straw of 42,122,400 tons, and biogas of about one billion cubic meters. In addition, the abundant solar energy, wind energy and geothermal resources are ready to be developed and utilized.


  Sichuan is a major province with tourist resources, featuring its beautiful natural scenery, profound historic culture and unique ethnic customs, which are characterized by large quantity, full range, wide distribution and high grade. The quantity and grade of tourism resources are among the best in the country.

  Sichuanowns five world heritage sites by the end of 2018, including three World Natural Heritage Sites (Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong, and Giant Panda Habitat), one World Cultural and Natural Heritage (Emeishan-Leshan Giant Buddha), and one World Cultural Heritage (Qingcheng Mountain-Dujiangyan). Four protected areashave been listed in the world Man and Biosphere Protection Network,namely, Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong, Wolong, Daocheng Yading. It is home to five "Forty Best Chinese Tourism Resorts", namely, Emei Mountain, Jiuzhaigou-Huanglong, Shunan Bamboo Sea, Leshan Giant Buddha and Zigong Dinosaur Museum. Sichuan has established 15 national-level scenic spots and 79 provincial-level scenic spots. Sichuan has 565 tourist spots of A level or above, including 12 5A tourist scenic spots, ranking the fourth in China; Sichuan has 21 top tourist cities of China. Sichuan has 166 natural reserves (including 32 national natural reserves), which cover an area of 83,000 square kilometers, accounting for 17.1% of Sichuan's land area. Sichuan has 64 wetland parks, including 29 national wetland parks and 35 provincial wetland parks. Sichuan has 137 forest parks with a total area of 2,324,800 hectares, accounting for 4.78% of Sichuan's land area; Sichuan's forest parks, including 44 national forest parks, rank among the top 10 in China in terms of the total number. More than 220 geological relics have been discovered in Sichuan, including three world-class geological parks and 18 national-level geological parks, whose number ranks first in China. Sichuan has eight national historical and cultural cities, as well as 225 villages included in the Chinese traditional villages list. Sichuan has 253 museums, 230 key heritage sites under state protection, 1,165 provincial cultural heritage sites, 139 national intangible cultural heritages and 522 provincial intangible cultural heritages.

  (Information provided by the Association of Sichuan Yearbook with the content derived from the 2019Sichuan Yearbook)

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