Sichuan Province is situated in southwest China and lies in the upper Yangtze River. Located between 92°21′ and 108°12′ east, and between 26°03′ and 34°19′ north, Sichuan is about 1075 km long (from east to west) and 900 plus wide (from north to south). It borders Chongqing City on the east and Yunnan and Guizhou on the south. Tibet is on the west of Sichuan, and Qinghai, Gansu and Shaanxi are on the north. Sichuan’s total area is 485,000 square kilometers, ranking the fifth following Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia and Qinghai.
Sichuan has a complex and varied topography. The east and west of Sichuan is significantly different in landscape. The terrain of China’s mainland forms a flight of three steps in terms of altitude, and Sichuan just lies between the first step and the second step, namely between the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau (the first step) and the Plain of the Middle-and-lower Reaches of Yangtze River (the second step). It is higher in the west than in the east, demonstrating a distinct disparity in terms of altitude. Plateaux and mountainous areas can be seen in west Sichuan with elevations of over 4,000 meters above sea level, while basins and hilly areas can be found in the east, with elevations of 1,000 to 3,000 meters above sea level. The whole province can be divided into three parts: the Sichuan Basin, Sichuan Northwest Plateau and Sichuan Southwest Mountains.
The Sichuan Basin is one of the four basins in China, with an area of 165,000 square kilometers. The Basin is surrounded by the Qinling range to the north, Mt. Micang and Mt. Daba to the east, Mt. Dalou to the south and Mt. Longmen and Mt. Qionglai to the northwest. It experiences a warm and humid subtropical monsoon climate with warm winters and hot summers. The rainfall annual total in most of the region approximates between 900 to 1,200 mm. The vegetation here is subtropical evergreen broadleaved forest. Agricultural crops mature twice every year. The west of the Basin is Sichuan West Plain with fertile terrain of high productivity irrigated by the Dujiangyan. The middle of the Basin is purple hilly area with an elevation of about 400 to 800 meters above sea level and sloping slightly towards the south. There the Minjiang River, Tuojiang River and Jialingjiang River flow from the mountains in the north towards the south and join the Yangtze River. The east of the Basin is Chuandong parallel ridges and valleys which consist of Mt. Huaying, Mt. Tongluo and Mt. Mingyue.
The northwest Sichuan is Sichuan Northwest Plateau, the southeastern part of the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, with an average elevation of 3,000 to 5,000 meters. Here it has an alpine climate with alpine meadow vegetation.
The southwest Sichuan is the northern part of the Hengduan Ridge, with high mountains and deep valleys. Mountains stretch and rivers flow from the south to the north. From east to west, mountains and rivers are as follows: Mt. Minshan, Minjiang River, Mt. Qionglai, Daduhe River, Mt. Daxueshan, Yalongjiang River, Mt. Shalulishan and Jinshajiang River. Climate and vegetation change vertically. Vegetation is mostly alpine coniferous forests and alpine shrubs and meadows.(Data provided by Sichuan Yearbook Press. See the Sichuan Yearbook 2008 for details.)