Yunnan stands in south (means "nan" in Chinese) of Yun Ling Mountain. There is a distance of 88.5 km. between the east and west and 910 km. from the south to north. The Tropic of Cancer runs across its southern part. Yunnan borders on Burma to the west and southwest, Laos and Vietnam to the south. The Chinese border stretches 4060km along Yunnan boundaries. On its east are Guizhou Province and Guangxi Zhang Autonomous Region, and on the north are Sichuan Province and Chongqing city, and on the northwest is Tibet Autonomous Region.
Yuanjiang Valley and the south valley of Yun Ling cut the Yunnan region into two parts. The eastern section is the Yunnan Plateau consisting of Diandong and Dianzhong Plateaus, which is part of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. This part have an average elevation of 2000 km above sea level and feature undulating low mountains dotted with various karst pinnacles. The western part is the vertical valley district of the Traverse Mountains. It consists of high mountains and deep valleys, and sheer drops between them create a rugged terrain. Its elevation ranges from 1500m to 2200m in the south and 3000m to 4000m in the north.
Landscape throughout Yunnan region has five features: rolling plateau; alternate mountains and valleys; the province terrain descendes like a ladder with three steps from northwest to southeast; basins dotted are around and full of mountains and lakes.
Mountains, Rivers and Lakes
Important mountains in Yunnan include the Jiaozi, Wulian, Wumeng, Liangwang, Cawang, Niutou and Liushao mountains in the east. Standing on the plateau, they mostly spread out toward the northeast and southwest. In the west lies the Gaoligong, Nu and Yuling mountains, which are high, narrow and long. Its northern part consists of high mountains and thick forests and the southern section is the edge of the Henduan Mountains, which mainly include the Ailiao and Wuliang Mountains (edge of the Yu Ling), the great snow mountain, Bangma and Laobie Mountains (edge of the Nu Mountain), western branch of the Gaoligong Mountain, and Binglang Mountain. There are 30 main peaks with elevation of over 2,500 m in the province.
There are over 600 rivers in Yunnan, and 180 are important. Most of them form the upper reaches of the larger rivers that flow to the sea. They belong to the six great water systems of the Irrawaddy, Nujiang, Lancang, Jinsha, Honghe and Zhujiang Rivers, spreading all over this province.
As a result of faulting in the earths crust, Yunnan is rich in lakes with a lot of fresh-water lakes scattered around the region. There are over 30 lakes of different sizes. In the east, the larger lakes include the Dianchi, Fuxian, Yangzonghai, Qilu and Xingyun Lakes. In the west the lakes include Erhai which is the largest. Some of the other are;- the Chenghai, Lugu, Jian and Zibi Lakes. In the south lie lakes of Yilong, Changqiao, Dutunhai. The average depth of most lakes is around 20m however the Fuxian, Yangzonghai, Chenghai and Lugu Lakes are deeper. The Fuxian Lake is the second deepest lake of China.
Of 55 the minorities in China, 51 can be found in Yunnan. There are 25 with the population over 5,000, who have lived in communities in Yunnan for generations. Minorities with the population exceeding 1,000,000 include Yi, Hani, Zhuang and Dai. There are 15 Yunnan endemic minorities including the Bai, Hani, Dai, Lisu, Wa, Lahu, Naxi, Jingpo, Bulang, Pumi, Nu, Deang, Dulong, Jinuo. In addition, the major nationalities consist of Han, Yi, Bai, Hani, Zhuang, Dai, Miao, Lisu, Hui, Jingpo, Naxi, Yao, Dulong, Achang, Shui and Wa.