Kunming is located in east-central Yunnan province. It is located between north latitude 24°23′ and 26°22′ N, and east longitude 102°10′ and 103°40′ E, with a total area of 21,600 square kilometres (8,340 square miles). Its widest stretch from the east to the west amounts to 140 kilometres (87 miles) and its largest expansion from the north to the south amounts to 220 kilometres (137 miles).
Situated in a fertile lake basin on the northern shore of the Lake Dian and surrounded by mountains to the north, west, and east, Kunming has always played a pivotal role in the communications of southwestern China. Lake Dian, titled as “the Pearl of the Plateau”, is the sixth largest fresh water lake in China, is the largest lake in Yunnan and has an area of approximately 340 square kilometres (130 square miles). Kunming’s highest point is Mazong Ridge of the Jiaozi Mountain in Luquan with an elevation of 4,247 metres (13,934 feet), and its lowest point is the joint of the Xiao River and the Jinsha River in Dongchuan District, with an elevation of 695 metres (2,280 feet). Its downtown area is 1,891 metres (6,204 feet) above sea level.
About 96 km (60 mi) southeast of the city centre is the Stone Forest in Shilin County, a karst formation developed as a tourist attraction consisting of rock caves, arches, and pavilions. It is part of the larger karst-based landscape of the area.
Located at an elevation of 1,890 metres (6,200 feet) on the Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau with low latitude and high elevation, Kunming has one of the mildest climates in China, characterised by short, cool dry winters with mild days and crisp nights, and long, warm and humid summers, but much cooler than the lowlands. The weather never gets very hot in summer; the temperature has exceeded 30 °C (86 °F) only on a handful of occasions. However, freak snowfalls occur in occasional winters. Controlled by a subtropical highland climate (Köppen Cwb), the monthly 24-hour average temperature ranges from 8.1 °C (46.6 °F) in January to 19.9 °C (67.8 °F) in June, with daily high temperatures reaching their lowest point and peak in December and May, respectively. With its perpetual spring-like weather which provides the ideal climate for plants and flowers, Kunming is known as the “City of Eternal Spring”. The city is covered with blossoms and lush vegetation all-year round. The period from May to October is the rainy season and the rest of the year is dry. The city has an annual mean temperature of 14.91 °C (58.8 °F), rainfall of 1,011 millimetres (39.8 in) (nearly three-fifths occurring from June to August) and a frost-free period of 230 days. With monthly percent possible sunshine ranging from 30% in July to 69 percent in February and March, the city receives 2,198 hours of bright sunshine annually. Extreme temperatures in the city have ranged from −7.8 to 32.3 °C (18 to 90 °F).
Mineral resources include phosphorus, salt, magnesium, titanium, coal, quartz sand, clay, silica, copper. Phosphorus and salt mines are the most plentiful. Kunyang Phosphorus Mine is one of the three major phosphorus mines in the country. Rock salt reserves are 1.222 billion tonnes (1.203 billion long tons) and mirabilite reserves are 1.908 billion tonnes (1.878 billion long tons). Dongchuan is a major copper production base.
Proven reserves of Coal bed gas is about 500 billion cubic metres (18,000 billion cubic feet), equal to 720 million tonnes (710 million long tons) of standard coal. Geothermal resources are widely distributed.
Environment and horticulture
Kunming has 2,585 hectares (6,390 acres) of lawns, trees and flowers, averaging 4.96 square metres (53.4 square feet) per capita and a green space rate of 21.7 percent. The city’s smoke control area is 115 square kilometres (44 square miles) and noise control area 87 square kilometres (34 square miles).
Kunming is a significant horticultural center in China, providing products such as grain, wheat, horsebeans, corn, potato and fruit such as peaches, apples, oranges, grapes and chestnuts. Kunming is world-famous for its flowers and flower-growing exports. More than 400 types of flowers are commonly grown in Kunming. The camellia, Yulan magnolia, azalea, fairy primrose, lily and orchid are known as the six famous flowers of the city.
The camellia was confirmed by the Municipality of Kunming as its city flower in 1983.
The Kunming city government plans to create an environmental trial court to deal with environment-related lawsuits. It is to be part of the city’s intermediate people’s court and will have jurisdiction over appeals by companies that have been found guilty of violating environmental laws in cities throughout Yunnan.