Xishuangbanna is located at the extreme southern tip of Yunnan province in People’s Republic of China. It is bordered with Myanmar to its west and Laos to the south. Xishuangbanna is not only renowned as the kingdom of animals, but has earned the name “pearl on the crown of the kingdom of plants”. It occupies an area of some 19700 square kilometers, including 1 city (Jinghong) and 2 counties (Menghai and Mengla). There are 13 ethnic minorities such as Dai, Hani, Bulang, Jinuo, etc, with a total population of 1,133,515. In Dai language, Xishuang means twelve; Banna is one thousand pieces of land, which is how it got its name.
Xishuangbanna lies just below the Tropic of Cancer. The land is hilly with a few mountains and valleys. India Ocean monsoons bring in humid air and it is often windless. The climate is ideal for plants and animals. One quarter of China’s fauna and one sixth of its plant species are living and growing in this virgin forest. There are over 5000 species of woody and herbaceous plants, ranging from huge arbors to primitive ferns. Rare and precious animals and birds thrive in the relative safety of the dense tropical jungles. There are only two seasons here, dry and humid, so here people for generations have never seen snow. Most of places in China have ice and snow, but here it is green and luxurious all year long.
For centuries, Xishuangbanna had been a hidden land and it was almost inaccessible. In 2001, Mekong River golden waterway was opened to Laos and Thailand by boat. In 2010 international highway from Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, to Bangkok via Xishuangbanna was opened. There is an international airport with airlines to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Laos . Xishuangbanna has become a gateway from China to the Southeast Asian countries.
Jinghong is the capital of Xishuangbanna. It has an area of 7133 square kilometers with a population of 519,935. It takes 3 hours by bus to arrive from Myanmar and 4 hours from Laos. Jinghong is a basin surrounded by neighboring mountains. The highest mountain point is Lunan Shan at 2196 meters. Mekong River flows through Jinghong city. The tropical rainforest climate brings in both rainfall and sunshine, which makes Jinghong rich in producing tropical fruits, tea, and rubber.
Located in the southwest of Xishuangbanna and bordered on Myanmar, Menghai County has an area of 5511 square kilometers. The population is 310,000. It is about 1 hour from Jinghong by bus. Menghai minority are Dai, Hani, Bulang, Luhu, wa, Yi, Hui, etc. Menghai contains the highest point above sea level. The average temperature is 18.1 degrees Centigrade all year. As a result of sub-tropical climate, rice and tea as well as sugar cane are the economic pillars.
Located in the southeast of Xishuangbanna and bordered on Laos, Mengla County has an area of 7056 square kilometers with a population of 300,000. It takes about 3 hours from Jinghong by bus. Mengla contains minority of Lahu, Yao, Zhuang, Hani, Dai, Bulang, and Han. Heishuiliangzi is 2023 meters above sea level which is the highest point in Mengla and the lowest altitude is only 480 meters. The average temperature is 21.1 degrees Centigrade. Mengla abounds in sugar cane, tea, rice, natural rubber. There exists rock, salt, gold, silver, copper, manganese, aluminum, iron, and lead.
Mengzhe covering central Menghai is located 22 kilometers west. It is the biggest flatland in Xishuangbanna. The average annual temperature is 18.4 degrees Centigrade. Mengzhe has 52,000 people. The ethnic minority are Dai, Hani, Lahu, Bulang, and Han. Mengzhe is an agricultural town. Rice, sugar cane, tea are the three main products. The rice from this region is particularly sought after throughout Yunnan Province.