Dian Lake

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Dianchi Lake
Dianchi Lake
Location Yunnan
Coordinates 24°48′02″N 102°40′17″E / 24.80056°N 102.67139°E / 24.80056; 102.67139Coordinates: 24°48′02″N 102°40′17″E / 24.80056°N 102.67139°E / 24.80056; 102.67139
Type Freshwater
Primary outflows Pudu River
Basin countries China
Max. length 39 km (24 mi)
Surface area 298 km2 (115 sq mi)
Average depth 4.4 m (14 ft)
Surface elevation 1,886.5 m (6,189 ft)
Dianchi Lake (2005)

Dianchi Lake (Chinese滇池, Diānchí), also known as Lake Dian and Kunming Lake (昆明湖, Kūnmínghú), is a large lake located on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau close to Kunming, Yunnan, in southern China. Its nickname is the "Sparkling Pearl Embedded in a Highland"[citation needed] and it was the model for the Kunming Lake in the Summer Palace in Beijing. Its name is the source of Yunnan's Chinese abbreviation .

It is a freshwater fault lake at 1,886.5 m (6,189 ft) above sea level. The lake covers 298 km2 (115 sq mi). It is 39 km (24 mi) long from north to south, and the average depth is 4.4 m (14 ft). It is the eighth largest lake in China and the largest in Yunnan Province.


The Chinese character for the lake is a phonosemantic compound of the radical ("water") and the character , whose current pronunciation is zhēn but whose Old Chinese pronunciation has been reconstructed as *tin.[1]

Dianchi Lake was the site of the capital of the independent kingdom of the Cuan () during the first millennium AD. At that time, it was known as Kunchuan (昆川).[citation needed]


Pollution is a major problem for the lake. In the city of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, parts of which are subtropical, there was traditionally no talk of water shortage, since the city is right next to one of Asia's biggest freshwater lakes. But 90 percent of Kunming's wastewater was pumped untreated into the lake until the first wastewater plant was built in 1990. In addition, much of the marsh system around the lake was destroyed during the Great Leap Forward in a misguided effort to raise rice production by filling the marshes in with trucked-in soil. Agricultural runoff is also a major problem.

The lake water is now undrinkable despite several billion US dollars having been spent trying to clean it up. Some experts predict that over 55% of the lake's fish population has been killed off by this disease-ridden type of pollution.The water in the lake is rated Grade V (the worst grade) which makes the water unfit for agricultural or industrial uses.[2]

There are several highly threatened endemic fish species in the lake, including Acheilognathus elongatus, Anabarilius alburnops, Liobagrus nigricauda, Pseudobagrus medianalis, Schizothorax grahami, Silurus mento, Sinocyclocheilus grahami and Yunnanilus nigromaculatus.[3] The Yunnan lake newt (Cynops wolterstorffi) has not been seen since 1979 and is considered extinct.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Baxter, William & al. "Baxter-Sagart Old Chinese Reconstruction", p. 160. 2011. Accessed 15 November 2013.
  2. ^ Kahn, Joseph; Yardley, Jim (2007-08-26). "As China Roars, Pollution Reaches Deadly Extremes". New York Times. 
  3. ^ Nguyen, T.T.T., and S. S. De Silva (2006). Freshwater finfish biodiversity and conservation: an Asian perspective. Biodiversity & Conservation 15(11): 3543-3568
  4. ^ Yang Datong, Michael Wai Neng Lau (2004). "Cynops wolterstorffi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 6 August 2015. 

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