Yunnan is the sixth largest of China's 22 provinces. The province is slightly larger than Montana and slightly smaller than California and is larger than either Japan, Germany or the UK.
The province is located in China's southwest corner and borders Burma (Myanmar), Laos and Vietnam. The northwest corner borders Tibet, but the rest of the northern border is with Sichuan province with weather dominated by clouds and rain.
A legend says that a Nanzhao prince of Dali, in present day Yunnan, visited the Tang Dynasty court, he told the emperor that his land was south of the rainy weather. The emperor then dubbed that territory 'Yunnan' – South of the Clouds.
Yunnan does, in fact, enjoy some of the best weather in China. Its southern latitude along with its mountain chains and vast hill-studded high plateau account for the temperate climate. Only at low elevations along the southern border is the climate tropical.
Both culturally and physically Yunnan forms the northern rim of Southeast Asia and is subject to the annual monsoon from May through October. In other seasons days are usually sunny and mild, with cold winters only in the mountainous northwest.
Because of the province's diverse geography, it is home to China's greatest variety of plant and animal species. Among the 30,000 species of plants in China, 18,000 can be found in Yunnan.
Yunann’s pillar industries are tobacco, agriculture, mining and tourism. The province is rich in hydropower, both developed and undeveloped, and in mineral reserves. It has China's largest reserves of aluminum, lead, zinc and tin and major reserves of copper and nickel.
Yunnan is one of China's relatively undeveloped provinces and has more poverty-striken counties than most other provinces. While the province lags behind the east coast in relation to socio-economic development, its geographic location gives it a competitive advantage in terms of emerging trade and commerce with Southeast Asia and India.