ISBN 7119031163Hardcover : 107 Pages / illustration / 190mm X 170mm Foreign Languages Press (2002)
- Places of Cultural and
- Historic Interest
- Beautiful Landscape
- Religions and Folk Customs
Situated in the central part of the Asian continent, the western region of China is on the rooftop of the world. With an area larger than half of Europe, it has a favorable geographical location. From west China, one can easily travel westward to reach Central Asian countries and even Amsterdam in Europe. It adjoins Southeast Asia and the South Asian subcontinent in the southwest, and the Beibu Gulf and South China Sea in the south. The region encompasses one-third of China s administrative regions-Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou provinces, Chongqing Municipality, and the Ningxia Hui, Xinjiang Uygur, Guangxi Zhuang, Inner Mongolia and Tibet autonomous regions. Covering 5.4 million square km, west China equals 56 percent of the nation s total land area, and supports a population of 280 million, or 23 percent of the national total.
To get to know west China, begin with its most famous waterways, the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, both of which have nurtured the country s 5,000-year-old civilization. Taking melted glacial and snow water from the Kunlun and Himalayan mountains in the western region, the Yangtze and Yellow rivers flow eastward before emptying into the sea.
The western region has abundant natural resources. Alongside its rich water resources, which account for 82.5 percent of the national total, it also has considerable mineral deposits. Statistics provided by the Ministry of Land and Resources show that the northwestern region has great potential for development of mineral resources, with the potential value of their reserves estimated at 33.7 trillion yuan. The western region boasts of having over 120 of the 150 types of minerals discovered in China so far, including coal, petroleum, natural gas, nickel, copper, lead, zinc, gold and potash salt. The recoverable reserves of the region s coal, which constitute 30 percent of the national total, are mainly distributed in Shaanxi, Xinjiang and Ningxia. The region holds 5 10 million tons, or nearly 23 percent, of the country s total underground oil reserves, which are chiefly deposited in the Ordos Basin, Junggar Basin, Tarim Basin, Turpan-Kumul Basin and Qaidam Basin. Its natural gas reserves, distributed in the Ordos and Tarim basins, stand at 135.4 billion cubic meters, 58 percent of the national total. In addition, 62 percent of the country s total nickel reserves and 57 percent of its platinum reserves are concentrated in the western province of Gansu, and 97 percent of potash salt reserves are in Qinghai Province. Both nationally and internationally, the region also ranks first in terms of reserves of some rare metals.
The two major national projects under construction-the west-to-east gas transmission and west-to-east power transmission-well demonstrate the role of the western region in national economic development. To tap abundant natural gas resources in the west, the Chinese Government invested in building a 4,000- pipeline. Stretching across nine provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, the pipeline will transmit gas from the west to the eastern region, which will not only ease the energy shortage in east China but also help reduce environmental pollution there. The western region has sufficient waterpower resources, and power transmission facilities have been constructed or are being built, which will transmit electricity to power deficient cities in the east.
However, what makes the western region so attractive is its beautiful landscape, abundant sites of cultural and historic interest, unique religious rituals and colorful folklore. As many places in the west remain undeveloped, its natural environment is free of pollution and local cultural traditions retain their primitive and simple forms. Therefore, the region is an ideal place to review history, find traditions and enjoy the primitive charms of nature.
West China is one of the world s regions boasting the richest tourist resources. Many of its scenic spots have been included in the World Cultural Heritage List, the World Natural Heritage List or the World Cultural and Natural Heritage List. Forty-five sites have been listed as national- or provincial- level scenic spots or places of interest, and 72 areas have been included among nature reserves and environment conservation zones designated by the State or international organizations.