Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/292

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THE PROVINCE OF SZECHWAN

By Mr. Joshua Vale, China Inland Mission.

Part I. General Description

Geographical Position. — The province of SzECHWAN, which is situated in the west of China proper, is the largest of the provinces, and derives its name of " Four Streams " from the four rivers, Kialing, T'o, Min, and Yalong, flowing through the province from north to south into the great trade highway, the Yangtse.

Geological. — Eastern Szechwan has been called the "Eed Basin," that is to say, a basin with a thick surface layer of red and grey or yellow sandstone. Underneath this layer are deposits of coal and lime, and the basin is surrounded by high mountain ranges through which the Yangtse has forced an eastern outlet, and in its course carved magnificent gorges which, beginning in the east of the province, continue for about 100 miles into Hupeh. With the exception of the plain of Chengtu, measuring some 90 miles by 40, there is very little level ground in this basin, whose valleys rise in many places to an altitude of over 1000 feet above sea- level ; while the basin itself has been broken up by foldings of the earth's crust, forming ranges of hills, and exposing numerous coal seams of various thicknesses and qualities ; but the fertility of the sandstone has enabled the inhabi- tants to till not only the river valleys, with their alluvial deposits, but also to bring the hills themselves under cultivation.

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