Sichuan is located in the southwest of China and in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, with the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to the west and the Sichuan Basin to the east. Sichuan covers a total area of 485,000 square kilometers and currently has a population of 87.5 million. It has 21 cities (prefectures) and 181 counties (cities and districts) under its jurisdiction.
Geological upheaval and change over time have resulted in Sichuan's breathtakingly beautiful and rugged terrain. It is also a cultural corridor of harmony in China between east and west, as well as north and south. East and south Sichuan are renowned in China for their many minority groups, and Sichuan is an important place for the exchange of southern and northern cultures. Civilization along the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers has fostered the many rich, strange and wonderful cultures of Sichuan.
Topography of Sichuan can be divided into two totally different worlds by the meridian of east longitude 130. In the east, there is the famous Sichuan Basin, where the topography is low and is scattered with hills. The west of Sichuan is a world of tablelands and mountains. In this area of topgraphy and clear skies, various landscapes can be found: deep valleys, high peaks, snow mountains, glaciers, tableland, marshes and glassland. Thus Sichuan's heights in the west and lowland in the east have resulted in outstanding diverse natural environments, offering great scope for the development of the tourist industry.
The west of Sichuan is called Chuanxi Plateau (Sichuan West Plateau) and it comprises the rim of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. With an altitude ranging from 4,000 meters to 9,000 meters, Chuanxi Plateau is tilted from north to south and can be divided into north and south parts. The endless geological activity has formed many unique natural landscapes and unusual geological phenomena such as Jiuzhaigou (Nine-Village Valley), Huanglong (Yellow Dragon) and Hailuo Valley (Conch Valley). The splendid social history has resulted in the mysterious and colorful indigenous conventions of Tibet, Qiang and Yi minorities.
The east diamond-shaped Sichuan Basin, with a total area of 162,000 square kilometers, is considered the richest and most beautiful of China’s four largest basins. It is often called the “Red Basin” because red sandstone and shale are the main deposits on the surface of the ground. The fertile Chengdu Plain, also called Chuanxi or Shuanxi Plain, lies to the west of Sichuan Basin and is the largest plain in southwest China, covering a total area of 6,000 square kilometers. Its topography is flat, with fertile land interlaced by rivers and dykes. All of this is favorable for the development of self-irrigation. Chuanxi Plain has a long history of cultivation and food production, especially grain and oil, and is regarded as a “Place of God”. The Chuanxi Plain is also rich in ancient culture.
Gently embracing the Sichuan Basin are the surrounding mountains of Daba and Micang to the north, Qionglai to the west, Dalou and Daliang to the south, and Wushan Mountain to the east. Rivers within the territory originate from these mountains and flow into the Yangtze River. Daba, Wushan and Dalou Mountains belong to the Baguo region of ancient China, mainly comprised of mountainous regions and hills. Major rivers in Sichuan all flow through here and join with the Yangtze River. Therefore, mountains and waters in Sichuan are often called “Ba Shan Shu Shui” which means “Eight Mountains and Numerous Rivers”.