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Yunnan Travel Guide
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Home : China Guide : Yunnan : History of Yunnan

Yuanmou Caveman
Yunnan has a very long history. Mankind first appeared at least a million or perhaps as much as three million years ago. For many years Peking Man , discovered in1921, was the oldest know example of prehistoric man in China -until geologists begin planning the Kunming-Chengdu railway in 1965 and saw Yunnan's fossils. An old cowhered from the village of Yuanmou , northwest of Kunming , mentioned that had villages had been grinding up dragon bones as medicine for years. The surveyors, recognizing the common name for fossils, found a gully near Yuanmou whose cliff-like walls contained quantities of ancient mammal fossils. Among them, a young geologist discovered two human front teeth, famous for its abundance of animal and plant fossils.

Kingdom of Dian
Yu, the reputed founder of the Xia Dynasty, divided China into nine parts; Yunnan was within Liangzhou. During the Yin and Shang periods Yunnan was inhabited by southwestern minorities, with such tribes as Dian, Laojin, Mimo, Xi, Zuodu, and such nationalities as Kunming and Sui. During the period of the Warring States, in 279 B.C. a general named Xhuang Qiao from the State of Chu Commanded reoops into the Dian area and established the Kingdom of Dian.

When the first emperor of the State of Qin had united the six states, he ordered the building of fivechiwide road ( 1m =3chi) between Yibin in Cichuan and Qujing in Yunnan , and also appointed officials to administrate it, which indicated the beginning of the Chinese central government rule over Yunnan.

Han Dynasty
During the reign of Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty, Zhang Qian was appointed to leave for Xiyu (the Weatern Regions), and he learned that there was a road from Chengdu to India . Therefore in 122 B.C., Emperor Wudi sent his officals to search for the Southern Silk Road , but they failed since they were hindered by the Kunming Nationalitu in the Erhai area. In 109 BC the Han Government commanded its troops to enter the Erhai area for a punitive expedition, and set up Yizhou Prefecture , under which there were 24 counties, including Yunnan Country (the present Xiangyun County ). That was the first official record of Yunnan . Yunnan , meaning South of the Clouds, got its name from a report to Emperor Wudin that clouds were seen in the southwestern area. At this, Emperor Wudi ordered his officials to find that place, the present Yunnan .

Emperor Wudi appointed the king of the Kingdom of Dian and granted him the official seal. Since the period of conquering the Southwest, the Han Dynasty successively established seven prefectures, among which four had some connection with Yunnan , and thus Emperor Ming of the Eastern Han Dynasty established his rule over Yunnan in this way. Emperor Ming of the Eastern Han Dynasty established his rule in Yunnan in 69 A .D.. Yongchang Prefecture , with the second largest population among the 105 prefectures in the country, symbolized the confirmation of the border line in western Yunnan .

Three Kingdoms
During the period of Three Kingdoms, the present Yunnan Province , the west of Guizhou and the southwest Area, which was under the rule of the Kingdom of Shu-Han . In May, 225, because of the rebellion of the leader of the Yis, Zhuge Liang, Prime Minister of the State of Shu Han commanded his troops to suppress the rebellion and brought the Southweatern Area under control. In the year 271, the Western Jin Dynasty combined the four neighbouring prefectures into one, Ningzhou, which was then one of the 19 adminisrtrative areas of China . Later the Guan clansmen rose in rebellion, and became the dominant force of Yunnan . The capital of Ningzhou (the present Qujing) was then the political center of Yunnan .

Sui and the Tang Dynasties
During the Sui and the Tang Dynasties the six tribes around the Erhai Lake became powerful, of which the Nanzhao grew rapidly in strength. Later it united the other five tribes with the support of the Tang Dynasty. In 738 Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty made PiLuoge the king of Yunnan , symbolishing the founding of the Kingdom of Nanzhao . The Kingdom of Nanzhao lasted for 247 years with 13 kings successively on the throne. During the period of Tianbao, the tang Government adopted poor policies for ruling over this kingdom, which resulted in two wars with it. In 973 Duan Siping established the Kingdom of Dali , which lasted for 315 years with 22 successive kings. The periods of Nanzhao and Dali were two important periods in history, starting and ending almost at the same time as the Tang and the Song Dynasties. Dali was then the political center of Yunnan .

Yuan Dynasty
In 1253, Kublai Khan commanded the Mongolian troops to conquer the Kingdom of Dali . Then the Yuan Government set up the province of Yunnan as one of the elevn province of China . Since then Yunnan has been a provincial administration, and the capital was moved from Dali to Kunming . Under the rule of Sayyid All Omer Shams al-Din and others, the agriculture of Yunnan Province developed rapidly. The Yunnan Government established in Yunnan the chieftain system.

Ming Dynasty
In 1381 the Ming Government commanded its reoops to enter and control Yunnan , and then many people immigrated here to open wasteland. From then on the Han people became the majority group in Yunnan , while other ethnic groups became the minority nationalities. The Ming Government also abolished the appointment of the native officials and offered official posts to the Hans. That is the socalled PowerShift Practice. In the Ming Dynasty foundry industry, especially mining and metallurgy, developed rapidly, with the outputs of silver and copper ranking first in the whole country.

Qing Dynasty
In 1644, the Ming Dynasty was overthrown. Some members who were against the Qing Dynasty and some adherents of the Ming Dynasty selected an imperial clan emperor, and established the Southern Ming Dynasty. Emperor Yong Li once entered the Kingdom of Dian and made Kunming the capital of the Dian (kingdom). One general of the Qing Dynasty by the name of Wu Sangui hanged Emperor Yong Li and controlled Yunnan . In 1681 during the reign of the Emperor Kangxi, the Qing Government suppressed the rebellions of leaders of the three vassal states, including Wu Sangui. During the period of Emperor Yongzheng the Government earnestly carried out the policy of the appointment of Han officials rather than the local officers in Yunnan, and also built the roads of Yidong, Yixi and Yinan (East Road, West Road and South Road). From the early period to the middle period of the Qing Dynasty, the output of copper in Yunnan still ranked first in the whole country, but in the late Qing Dynasty, it dropped, while the production of tin leaped to the first in the whole of country.

After the Opium War, France and Britain invaded Yunnan and tried to bring it under control. They opened up trading ports in Mengzi, Hekou and Kunming , and seized the right to build the kunming Vietnam railway and to open mines in seven administrative areas in Yunnan . The Yunnanese carried out a series of fights against the invasion of foreign countries and the suppression by the Qing Government: through Margary Incident, Banhong Incident and Pianma Incident, they resisted the invasion of Great Britain; they also fought for the right of mining and railway building and resisted the Western religions; the resistance movements led by Du Wenxiu, by LiWenxue, By Tong Meng Hui (a Chinese revolutionary Legue) in Hekou and Yongchang Broke out Successively.

Republic of China
During the revolution of 1911 led by Sun Yatsen., the rising in Tengyue, the rising of September 9 th in Kunming , and the rising in Lin'an put an end to the rule of the Qing Government over Yunnan and established the Yunnan Military Government. In 1921, when Yuan ShiKai restored the monarchy, the Yunnanese first held the rising called Huguo Movement (guarding the motherland) to fight against Yuan ShiKai. During the AntiJapanese War, Yunnan acted as the rear area, and many factories, schools and universities from both inland and coastland were moved to Yunnan, and thus the four industrial areas of Haikou, Majie, Ciba and Anning came into being, producing the first telescope, the first wire, and many other first s in China. Kunming became an important industrial area and the center of education in China during the Anti-Japanese War. The Southwest Union University was well known for its academic achievements, and was called the Home of Democracy. Hundreds of thousands of Yunnan soldiers fought bravely with great triumphs on the front. In the battles of Tai' erzhuang and Zhongtiaoshan, they won great fame. The Kunming Vietnam Railway, the Kunming Burma Road, China India Road and the Tuofeng Airline were the only ways to the outside world. Yunnan therefore was called the Lifeline of the AntiJapanese War. In May 1942, the Japanese invaded western Yunnan , and Yunnan again became the front. Two years later the invaders were driven out. Yunnan was the first province to have driven out Japanese invaders. When Japan was defeated, it surrendered in Vietnam to Yunnan troops. That was the only time for China to accept a surrender in a foreign country. After the AntiJapanese War, the students in Kunming led the AntiKuo Ming Tang Movement to condemn KMT's launching of the civil war. That was the famous the December 1 st Movement which set up the second milestone for the Chinese Youth Movement. On December 9 th , Lu Han led his troops to rise, and, together with PLAforces, chased the remaining enemy forces out People's Government of Yunnan was founded, which ushered in a brand new age in Yunnan.

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