Historic Highlights of Yunnan
Yunnan is one of the most important origins of human
beings, and it is the starting point of Chinese history. The
fossils of the “Yuanmou Man” who lived in Yunnan
as early as 1.7 million years ago proved that Yunnan was inhabited
before any other areas in China and Asia. According to archeologists,
ancient ape fossils were found in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
China is an important area in Asia that the fossils are located.
While in China, the fossils are mainly in Yunnan.
Kingdom of Dian
In 279 BC, a general named Zhuanqiao from inland China was
sent to explore Yunnan. In 277 BC, when the general was trying
to return and report to his King, his rivals blocked the road.
So Zhuanqiao and his entourage were forced to stay in Yunnan.
They then assimilated themselves; meanwhile, general Zhuanqiao
set himself up as king and established the Kingdom of Dian.
For two centuries his descendants ruled the kingdom which
was completely cut off from China.
The Southern Silk Road
In 139 BC, an envoy was dispatched by the Han Emperor to China's
western neighboring countries to promote trade and establish
friendly relationships. In 122 BC, the envoy came back and
reported to the emperor that there was a road linking western
China and India. In fact, the road (named Shushengdu) was
there as early as 400 BC, and it started in Yunnan's adjoining
province of Sichuan. Because of Sichuan's long history of
silkworm-breeding, and silk production, the Shushengdu Road
was renamed The Southern Silk Road. The Southern Silk Road
is divided into four different routes which all started in
Sichuan and passed through Yunnan.
has a long history of bronze-casting, and the period between
warring state (475 BC-221BC) and Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD)
was the heyday of Yunnan's bronze culture. Thousands of pieces
of bronze relics have been excavated on more than 160 sites
in Yunnan. Among the bronze relics of ax, sickle, knife, etc,
bronze drums excavated in Chuxiong, Yunnan, are the oldest
bronze drums in the world, which date back to 600 BC, and
a bronze coffin in the form a traditional Chinese house which
weighs 257 kilograms, is a wonder both in Yunnan and even
Kingdom of Nanzhao
Between 7th century and 8th century, there were 6 big tribes
inhabited around Erhai Lake in Dali, Yunnan, among them, Nanzhao
was the most ambitious and the strongest tribe. With the support
of the Tang Empire in inland China, the Nanzhao tribe gradually
unified the other tribes. In 738 AD, the chieftain of Nanzhao
was appointed as king of Yunnan, which marked the founding
of the kingdom of Nanzhao. For five centuries, the Nanzhao
Kingdom and its successor, the Kingdom of Dali, remained strong
The Ancient Tea Road
The Ancient Tea Road took its shape gradually since Tang dynasty
(618 AD-907 AD). The road stretched across more than 4300
kilometers linking Yunnan, Sichuan, and Tibet. It took caravans
80 to 90 days to finish a one-way trip. The Tea Road was a
commercial passage for trading tea and other necessities,
and it is a road for packhorse caravans. The Tea Road started
in south Yunnan, the tea production center, and then went
toward northwest Yunnan, at last reached Tibet. According
to recent researches, the Tea Road comprised as many as 6
different routes, which reached inland China and abroad.
The Coming of Kublai Khan
In 1253, a Mongol named Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan,
came to Yunnan with a troop of 100 thousand soldiers. In 1254,
the Mongols conquered the kingdom of Dali. With the success
of Kublai Khan, 500 years of local warlords'sovereignties
in Yunnan came to an end. Meanwhile, in 1271, the great Khan
brought southern China under his sway, and established the
Yuan dynasty. In 1276, Yunnan was officially set up as a province
of Yuan Empire. Since then the term of“Yunnan”has
been used to denote a province, and the political capital
was moved from Dali to Kunming.
Zheng He (Cheng Ho) and His 7 Voyages
Zheng He, a Muslim navigator who is well-known both in China
and around the world, was born in the year of 1371 in Yunnan.
At the age of 10, he was recruited as a servant for the imperial
family, and later, he got promoted. Between 1405 and 1433,
he was appointed as admiral to lead a huge fleet of ships
and explore the world. Zheng He's first fleet had 317 ships
with 27,870 men on board,and the crew was made up of sailors,
clerks, interpreters, soldiers, artisans, medical staff, meteorologists,
etc. Meanwhile,the fleet carried large quantities of cargo
including silk products, porcelain, gold and silverware, copper
utensils, iron implements, etc. Zheng He organized a total
of 7 voyages with large-scale fleets. The voyages covered
more than 30 countries in Asia and Africa and were made over
half a century before Columbus's first exploration to America.
In 1856, the Yunnan authority launched a campaign to repress
Muslims in west Yunnan. The Muslims took up uprisings with
other rebellion forces joined in. Led by a Muslim, the joint
forces occupied Dali, at the same time, set up their own government
there. The uprising troops thwarted 6 attacks launched by
the Chinese troops, and conquered more than 20 counties, until
the year of 1872 when the rebellion was finally crushed by
the Chinese troops.
After anti-Japanese war broke out in 1937, the Japanese blocked
Chinese coastal access to the outside world. So the building
of a road between Kunming (capital of Yunnan) and Yangon (capital
of Burma) was on the agenda. The road was 1164 kilometers
long. 80% of the road was on the rugged mountains with hundreds
of turns. After it was finished in 1938, the Yunnan-Burma
Road became China's only access to the outside world.
“Flying Tigers” (American
In May, 1942, the Japanese invaded western Yunnan after they
occupied Burma, and Yunnan-Burma Road was cut off. Then the
China-India (or the Hump) air route was opened. The Chiang
Kai-shek's government approached Captain Claire L. Chennault
seeking his help to train the demoralized Chinese Air Force.
In the summer of 1941, Chennault organized the American Volunteer
Group or "Flying Tigers". Besides defending Kunming and the
Yunnan-Burma Road, they transported supplies to China over
“the Hump”, which got its name from the hump-like
Himalaya mountain range. The air route between Assam, India
and Kunming, was China's only link to the outside world in
1941, and the “Flying Tigers” played a significant
role in promoting China-US friendship.
Flora & Fauna
Of Cities In Yunnan