The Huanglong terraces
Location of Songpan County (red) within Ngawa Prefecture (yellow) and Sichuan
|Country||People's Republic of China|
|• Total||8,608 km2 (3,324 sq mi)|
|Elevation||2,867 m (9,406 ft)|
|• Density||7.9/km2 (20/sq mi)|
|• Major nationalities||Tibetan, Han, Qiang, Hui|
|Time zone||China Standard (UTC+8)|
Songpan (Chinese: 松潘; pinyin: Sōngpān; former name Chinese: 松州; pinyin: Sōngzhōu Tibetan: ཟུང་ཆུ་, Wylie: zung chu, ZYPY: Sungqu) is a county of northwestern Sichuan province, China, and is one of the 13 counties administered by the Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. It has an area of 8,608 square kilometres (3,324 sq mi), and a population of approximately 68,000 composed of Tibetan, Qiang, Han and Hui populations.
Economy and Tourism
The economy of Songpan is dominated by agriculture and livestock raising. In recent years, tourism has become an increasingly important sector, and is actively promoted by the authorities. Additionally, Songpan is popular among foreign students and other Chinese language learners staying in China as the base for treks through the scenic mountains nearby. Apart from the scenic attraction of Huanglong which is located in the county, Songpan with its strategic location also acts as the gateway to Jiuzhaigou Valley at the north.
The ancient city of Songpan was built during Tang Dynasty and it was later rebuilt during Ming Dynasty. Songpan was an important military post. It was also an important economic and trading center for horse and tea exchange between Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai and Tibet.
At the time of the Tang Dynasty, it was the border between Tibetan Empire and Chinese Empire. Songtsän Gampo king of Tibet tried to military invade China by this gate. Chinese Emperor Emperor Taizong of Tang offer him the Princess Wencheng to calm down the Tibetan king at Songzhou (now Songpan) in 641. According to Tibetan and Chinese legends, Princess Wencheng then brings with her among other things the Jowo statue to the Tibetan Empire.
While Songpan can be a charming city in its own right, the countryside surrounding the city offers a variety of tourist attractions. The hills surrounding the city are visual delights of Tibetan cattle herders leading their livestock over rolling grasses, endless valleys, and generally beautiful landscape. All of this can be seen through affordable horseback riding outlets on the outskirts of the city.
Geography and climate
Songpan covers latitudes 32° 06′−33° 09′ N and longitudes 102° 38′−104° 15′ E, and has a total area of 8,608 square kilometres (3,324 sq mi). Neighbouring counties are Pingwu to the east, Beichuan to the southeast, Mao to the south, Hongyuan and Heishui to the southwest, and Jiuzhaigou and Zoigê to the north.
Due to its altitude, Songpan has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dwb), with cool winters and warm, rainy summers. The monthly 24-hour average temperature ranges from −4.0 °C (24.8 °F) in January to 14.4 °C (57.9 °F) in July, and the annual mean is 5.87 °C (42.6 °F). The high elevation also results in a large diurnal temperature variation, exceeding 17 °C (31 °F) in winter. More than 70% of the 733 mm (28.9 in) of annual precipitation occurs from May to September. With monthly percent possible sunshine ranging from 31% in September to 57% in December, the county seat receives 1,831 hours of bright sunshine annually.
|Climate data for Songpan County (1971−2000)|
|Average high °C (°F)||6.4
|Average low °C (°F)||−10.8
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||6.5
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)||6.0||8.1||13.5||17.2||20.4||21.7||18.5||15.4||19.1||17.9||6.4||4.1||168.3|
|Average relative humidity (%)||51||53||59||63||67||72||74||73||75||72||61||53||64.4|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||169.0||148.4||160.5||163.3||159.3||136.8||153.3||164.8||113.5||129.6||157.0||175.6||1,831.1|
|Percent possible sunshine||53||48||43||42||37||32||35||40||31||37||50||57||41|
|Source: China Meteorological Administration|
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