Sichuan Province is known as Chuan or Shu for short. In the Shang and Zhou Dynasty, two kingdoms were founded in the region of Sichuan: one was the Kingdom of Shu founded by the ancient Shu ethnics in the present-day west Sichuan, and another was the Kingdom of Ba founded by the ancient Ba ethnics in the present-day east Sichuan (including the present Chongqing Municipality). On that account, Sichuan was called Bashu in ancient times. In 316 B.C., the Qin conquered the Kingdoms of Ba and Shu and there set up two counties, the County of Ba and the County of Shu, which came to be known as the Prefecture of Yi in the Han Dynasty, and as Jiannan Dao and Shannandong Dao and Shannanxi Dao later in the Tang Dynasty. In the Song Dynasty, Chuanshan Lu was established there, and later it was divided into Yi Lu, Zi Lu, Li Lu and Kui Lu, collectively called Sichuan Lu. It was from then on that the name of Sichuan came into being. The Yuan Dynasty set up Sichuan Xing Zhongshusheng, or Sichuan Xingsheng for short. In the Ming Dynasty the Sichuan Province was set up, and its jurisdiction covered even the present-day Zunyi in Guizhou Province, the Northeast Yunnan and Northwest Guizhou. In the Qing Dynasty, it was known as Sichuan Province, and considerable modifications were made to the provincial borders of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou, basically determining the provincial borders of the present south Sichuan.
Later in the Republic of China the present west Sichuan was separated as Xikang Province. In 1955, Xikang Province was placed under the jurisdiction of Sichuan. Sichuan was then divided into Chongqing Municipality and Sichuan Province in 1997, so that Chuan (the abbreviated name of Sichuan) and Yu (the abbreviated name of Chongqing) began to come under separate governance. Currently, Sichuan Province governs 18 cities and 3 ethnic autonomous prefectures.
Since the ancient times, Sichuan has been enjoying the honor of “the land of abundance”. Excellent geographical conditions and economic conditions make it possible for Sichuan to become one of the earliest economically developed regions. According to archaeological studies, human activities did exist in the region of the present Sichuan even in the Paleolithic Age and that the Chengdu Plain used to be the cradle of cultures in the upper reach of Yangtze River 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. Where the Guanghan Sanxingdui ruins and Chengdu Jinsha ruins are situated were once the center of politics, economy and culture of the ancient Kingdom of Shu. Sichuan’s agricultural civilization and urban civilization appeared in early times, and agriculture, metallurgy, silk weaving and architecture all made progress to a certain extent in history. (Data provided by Sichuan Yearbook Press. See the Sichuan Yearbook 2008 for details.)