Zhongdong, Ziyun County

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Zhongdong (Chinese: 中洞; literally: "Middle Cave") is a village in Ziyun county, Anshun prefecture in Guizhou Province, People's Republic of China. It is thought to be the only inhabited, year-round settlement in China located inside a naturally occurring cave.[1] The limestone Zhong Cave is the largest of three local caves, set between an upper and lower cave that are uninhabited.[1] The cave, at 1800 meters above sea level,[2] is only accessible on foot after over an hour's hike.[3] Some villagers claim that the village was settled after the 1949 Communist Revolution to escape banditry, while others claim that the village has been there countless generations earlier.[4]

Zhong Cave is 230 m (750 ft) long, 115 m (377 ft) wide, and 50 m (160 ft) high,[5] in size comparable to over one and a half soccer fields.[3] Twenty families, of the Miao ethnic minority, live in the cave, growing corn on the mountain and raising chickens, pigs, and cows.[4] Water is collected from dripping stones,[5] with shortages during the dry season.[1] In 2007, the villagers began building a concrete reservoir to improve water security. As of 2007, the village had a population of close to 100.[5]

The village's houses have woven bamboo walls, and are unique for having no roofs, relying on the cave's natural shelter.[3] The village relies on wood-fired hearths for heat and cooking, but electrical service was set up in the last decade, powering lights and a small number of appliances such as television sets and washing machines.[1] The Chinese government built concrete housing below the mountain for the Zhongdong villagers, but they refused to move there, citing the housing as substandard.[1] The village has one primary school with six classes and 200 students, many of whom are boarders from other local villages,[6] and is possibly the only cave school in the world.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Blanchard, Ben (February 15, 2007). "China's 'last cave dwellers' refuse to leave". Reuters. Retrieved February 7, 2011. 
  2. ^ Bu, Kitty. "Last Known Cave Dwellers in China". Reuters News. February 13, 2007. Video.
  3. ^ a b c "Guizhou Series: Southwest Guizhou - I". Travelogue. CCTV International. CCTV-9. June 6, 2009. Television.
  4. ^ a b Ni, Ching-Ching (August 1, 2002). "In China, a Light in the Cave". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 7, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c Li Qian (January 17, 2007). "Modern troglodytes in southwest province". China Daily. Retrieved February 9, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Heart of the Dragon." Wild China. BBC Natural History Unit co-produced with China Central Television. BBC Two. May 11, 2008. Television.

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