Capital City: Chengdu Population: 109 million Area: 488,000 sq km The Chinese often refer to Sichuan as the Heavenly Kingdom(Tianfu Zhiguo),a reference to the province 's abundance in natural resources and cultural heritage.Its name ,'Four Rivers',refers tjo four of the more than 80 mighty rivers spilling across the Chuanxi plain in the east. Sichuan is the largest province in the south-west, with a population displaying as much diversity as its landscape.While the east supports one of the densest rural populaion in the world, the west rises in giant steps to the Tibetan plateau, where green tea becomes butter tea and Confucianism yields to Buddhism.These windswept grasslands and deep forests are home to the Qiang and Tibetans. Sichuan's mountainous terrain and fast rivers have kept it relatively isolated until the present era, with much of the western fringe still fairly remote.Such inaccessibility has given Sichuan its own food,dialect and character and made it the site of various breakaway kingdoms throughout Chinese history.It was here that the Kingdom of Shu ruled as an independent state during the Three Kingdoms Period(AD 220-80) and the Kuomintang Party spent its last days before being vanquished and fleeing to Taiwan.The latest breakaway region is Chongqing,which split from Sichuan in March 1997. Sichuan became famous during the Warring States period(475-221 BC),when a famed engineer,Li Bing,managed to harness Du He on the Chuanxi plain with his weir systerm, allowing Sichuan some 2200 continuous years of irrigation and prosperity. Today the province continues to get rich,having palyed an active role in China's labouring economic reforms-most specifically as the site where the Communist Party first instituted its pioneering agriculture reforms. Worlds away from the scenes of urban renewal and economic reform,the remote mountains of Sichuan,bordering Gansu and Qinghai provinces,are the natural habitat of the giant panda.This shy animal is the one that Westerners are quick to associate with China,landing it a new job as 'little ambassador' for the Chiese goverment.
The first evidence of human habitation in what is now Sichuan Province consists of simple tools and a skull cap dating to the Paleolithic (Old Stone) Age. During the Neolithic period (approximately 8,000 - 2,000 BC) people living in Sichuan used axes, pottery jars, bone needles, and crude weapons, but the first major cultures in the province were the Ba and Shu peoples, who lived in what was then called Liangzhou from about 2000 BC. The Shu people lived on the Chengdu Plain while the Ba kingdom was centered in Eastern Sichuan. Many Shu and Ba relics can today be seen at the Sichuan Provincial Museum. Twenty-three hundred years ago a Shu Emperor named Kaiming IX moved his capital slightly east and named the new town Chengdu (meaning, 'becoming a city') in hopes that it would one day be a metropolis. Chengdu has remained Sichuan's capital ever since.
During the Warring States Period (453-221 BC) a Qin emperor conquered the Shu Kingdom and, in order to take advantage of the fertile plain and secure his hold on Sichuan, he moved thousands of Qin faithful to the former Shu Kingdom. The emperor had thick city walls built around Chengdu in 311 BC and divided the city into two parts--the larger for officials and the army and the smaller for merchants and peasants, who mostly lived outside the walls. A river was diverted to fill a moat around the city, and although the walls no longer remain, the Fu and Nan rivers still mostly ring what was the ancient capital. Southeast of the city the Fu and Nan rivers rejoin to flow south.
The Chengdu Plain's rich soil and flourishing economy made it an important strategic post, and for 2000 years both warlords and statesmen prized it. Possibly the most famous of Chengdu's overlords was Liu Bei, a distant relation of the Han imperial family who, claiming the right of his lineage, ruled the Shu Han Kingdom from Chengdu during the Three Kingdoms Period (AD 220-263). The classic Chinese novel The Romance of the Three Kingdoms immortalized the time, and a visitor to Chengdu can see Liu Bei's tomb at the Temple of Marquis Wu.
Since 316 BC, Chengdu has been renovated many times and has remained the economic and social center of Sichuan Province. One of the largest expansions happened in 879 AD when Gao Bin, a senior government officer, expanded the city to 120 streets and built 5,008 sentry rooms along the city walls. The sentry rooms and walls no longer remain; they were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, and the statue of Chairman Mao that stands in the center of the city was erected were the Viceroy's Palace had been.
In the 1940s, Chengdu and neighboring Chongqing were first bases for the 'Flying Tigers,' a renowned group of American and Chinese fighter pilots who fought against the Japanese during World War II, and the cities were later the final strongholds of the Chinese Nationalist Party. The Nationalists fled to Taiwan after Mao Zedong proclaimed the foundation of the People's Republic in 1949, and the Red Army liberated Chengdu in 1950.
Since Deng Xiaoping, a native of Sichuan Province, returned to power in 1977, Sichuan has undergone and often pioneered economic reforms. Among them perhaps the most important was the creation of the 'responsibility system' in which communes were broken up and plots of land let out to farmers. The farmers were required to sell a portion of their crops to the government at state prices, but otherwise they were free to market as they wished. Reforms have reached into the industrial sector as well, meaning the end for many bloated state-owned enterprises, and have been responsible for much of the growth of China's surplus labor force.
Another result of the changes is that Sichuan has gotten richer, and almost all city homes now have color televisions, washing machines, and refrigerators. Shu Kingdom Emperor Kaiming IX's idea of a metropolis on the Chengdu Plain has been realized beyond his wildest dreams, and Chengdu today is a modern city with plenty of swank shops, cell phones, and fancy cars.
Handicraft articles Shu brocade, Shu embroidery, porcelain, bamboo weaving, bamboo articles and fan.
Famous liquor Wuliangye, Luzhou Laojiao (old cellar), Jiannanchun, Quanxing Daqu, Lang liquor and Tuo Brand Qujiu.
Famous tea Mengding Huangya, Mengding Shihua, Emei Maofeng and Qingcheng Queshe.
Many travelers know Sichuan cuisine for its "hot and spicy" flavors or a few of its most famous dishes, but that is only the beginning.Sichuan cuisine is legendary in China for its sophistication and diversity.the regional cuisine boasts 5,000 different dishes. Sichuan cuisine has enjoyed a worldwide reputation. However, most people immediately think of Sichuan food soon after it is mentioned as a hot or spicy food.It is undear how the red pepper was introduced to Sichuan. You may wonder why the red pepper is so popular. Here is a common explanation.Sichuan has a humid climate that encourages people to eat strongly spiced foods.the red pepper may help reduce internal dampness. Sichuan pepper is another important ingredient in Sichuan cooking.It is known as huajiao(flower pepper).It is the Chinese pepper, and it looks like a reddish brown fruit.the peppercorn comes from the prickly ash tree.the pepper flower creates a most sudden numbing effect on one`s tongue. Sichuan cuisine so carefully balances color,smell,flavor, shape and nutrition that its dishes not only look pleasant and appealing,bu also nutritious.In Sichuan recipes there are several hundred popular dishes.Sichuan cuisine is able to prduce 100 different flavored dishes!Besides, Sichuan cooks provide dishes that are intentionally toned down for tourists at home and abroad. they have no difficulty in getting Sichuan food that suits their tastes whether it`s in a banquet,outstanding lunches,dinners,or snacks.
Sichuan cuisine include a number of famous snack dishes.they are called "xiaochi"in Chinese.Sichuan snacks are very popular .they have unique flavors.they are cooked with various seasonings. Chengdu snacks have a long history.they have a particular style in color,smell,taste and shape.Each restaurant in Chengdu tries to offer a variety of traditional snack in an attempt to satisfy customers at home and abroad.Such an effort saves travelers much time in searching for snack places marked on the city guide map. A few of the more renowned snack dishes are listed here below: