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Sichuan Overview
  Natural Geographic Features of Sichuan Province

  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 1075km from east to west and 900km south to north. Sichuan borders Chongqing to the east, Yunnan and Guizhou to the south, the Tibet Autonomous Region 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 between the east and 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 the numerous mountains and plateaus, with an altitude of over 4,000m; the eastern Sichuan consists of basins and hills, with an altitude ranging from 1000 to 3000m. The province can be divided into three parts: Sichuan Basin, Chuanxibei Plateau and Mountainous Area of Southwest Sichuan.

  The eastern Sichuan Basin is one of the four major basins in China with an area of 165,000 km2. The basin is surrounded by the Qin Mountains to the north, Micang Mountain and Daba Mountain to the east, Dalou Mountain to the south, and Longmen Mountain and Qionglai Mountain to the northwest. It is endowed with a warm and humid climate which is fairly mild in winters and rather cool in summers. Its annual precipitation in most areas ranges from 900 to 1200 mm. It experiences a humid subtropical monsoon climate covered with subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forests. 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 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 Chuanxibei Plateau, forming the easternmost part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, at 3,000 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 Shan, Ya-Lung River, Shaluli Shan and Jinsha River. The plants of different climates are vertically distributed, mainly consisting of the coniferous forests of the cold 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.

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