Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/311

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
241
THE PROVINCE OF YUNNAN

lake (these are called "seas" by the people), 40 miles long and from 5 to 8 miles wide. There are also many smaller lakes throughout the province.

Among the principal rivers are the Upper Yangtse, the Salwen, the Mekong, and the Red River. None of these, except perhaps the last, are of any value in the province for navigation.

Among the Chinese the province has been proverbial for its rich mines of gold, silver, copper, iron, and lead, and if put under proper supervision, with the employment of modern machinery, all this mineral wealth might become a source of great profit to the province, and indeed to the Empire. As at present managed, however, the public benefit is infinitesimal. Salt wells also are found in many places, also coal.

Arrangements have been made between the Chinese and the French Governments for a line of railway to join Tonkin and Yunnan Fu. The work is going forward, but the unhealthiness of the route near the Tonkin border has been a hindrance. It has been difficult to get labourers who can stand the climate. It is also reported that there is to be a private short line of railway from Bhamo to Tengyueh, and thus avoid the old caravan road through the Ku-ch'in Hills, and facilitate the transport of goods from Burmah into this part of China. While the difficulties of engineering such a railway could doubtless be overcome, the mountainous character of the country cannot but make its construction very expensive.

The climate of Yunnan is very equable, as most of the plains, especially in the central part of the province, are from 5000 to 7000 feet above sea-level. Thus the temperature in the summer does not often exceed 86° in the shade, and in winter there is seldom much snow in the plains, except in the eastern parts on the borders of Kweichow. Here the winters are more severe and the snow lasts longer. As a rule the rainy season commences in June and lasts till the end of August, and sometimes into September. At the beginning of the rains the rice is

R