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I．Geography and natural conditions
Sichuan is high in the west and low in the east in terms of topography. Generally speaking, the western part is plateaus and mountainous regions some 4,000 meters above sea level while the east features the basin and hilly land with an elevation between 1,000 and 3,000 meters. The Sichuan Basin, covering an area of 165,000 square km, is one of the four largest in the country. The elevation within the basin is between 200 and 750 meters, sloping down from north to south.
The reserves of hydropower resources in Sichuan come to 150 million kw, second only to Tibet, and the exploitable potential is over 100 million kw, more than any other area in China.
Sichuan boasts 132 verified mineral resources and leads the country in the reserves of vanadium, titanium, calcium, mirabilite, fluorite, natural gas, and sulfur iron, and leads the world in reserves of titanium. Its reserves of vanadium ranks third in the world.
The pleasant climate provides a favorable environment for plants and animals. Forests cover a total area of 7.46 million hectares. Sichuan is home to one-fifth of the country’s dawn redwoods and Cathaya argyrophylla, two species so old they are regarded as living fossils. It is also rich in animal resources. There are over 1,000 kinds of vertebrates, accounting for 40 percent of the country. Among them are 55 kinds of rare animals. The well-known giant pandas inhabit mainly in 36 counties and natural reserves of four mountain ranges within the territory of Sichuan.
Sichuan has three places on the World Cultural and Natural Heritage List: the Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area, the Huanglong Scenic Area, and Mount Emei with the Leshan Giant Buddha; nine state-class scenic areas, including the Dujiang Dam Irrigation System, Qingcheng Mountain, the Sea of Bamboo in southern Sichuan; 11 national forest parks; 40 nature reserves, 44 provincial-class scenic areas. Almost every variety of tourist resources is available here: plateaus, mountains, ravines, basins, hills, plains, rivers, lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, limestone caves, and even danxia (red bed) formation.