Yunnan Province is the continuation of the Tibetan plateau and occupies an area of 394,000sqkm, similar in size to the US State of California. With the Himalayas dominating the north, and the equatorial tropics warming the southern areas, the area's geographical features are diverse and spectacular.
Yunnan shares a western border with Myanmar and a southern border with Laos and Vietnam. Two geographically different regions are divided by the Ai-lao Mountains: a limestone plateau to the east, and a mountainous area with several peaks above 5,000 metres, to the west. The highest point is the 6,740-metre Kagebo Peak on the Yunnan-Tibet border.
The torrential rivers are too swift for navigation, but have huge largely untapped hydroelectric potential. The elevation of the eastern plateau varies from 2,130 metres at its western end, to 1,370 metres on the Kweichow border, where intermountain basins and broad fertile valleys facilitate intensive farming.
More than 40 freshwater lakes, the highest number in Southwest China, lie in geological faults on the plateau. Larger lakes include Dianchi, Erhai, Fuxian, Yangzonghai and Lagu. About 30 percent of the land area is forested, and is home to a large variety of flora and fauna.
Yunnan Weather & Climate
Yunnan's varied and diverse climate means that, while Kunming enjoys pleasant spring-like weather for most of the year, the elevated eastern plateau experiences warm summers and mild winters, and the climate can change substantially during a journey of just a few kilometres.
To the west, the valley floors and lower slopes of this mountainous area enjoy warm humid weather, while a temperate zone stands between 2,000 to 3,000 metres, and ice and snow envelop the high summits. Monsoons off the Pacific and Indian oceans provide adequate rainfall, with May through October the wettest months.