Yunnan Ethnic Village, which is located in the southwest suburbs of Kunming, Yunnan Province, near the banks of the Dianchi Lake, covers an area of 89 hectares, reflects and displays the twenty-six minorities local cultural customs in Yunnan.
Of the more than five million people registered as residents in Kunming in 2006, more than four million were Han. The Yi people were the most prominent minority in the city, with more than 400,000 residents. The least-represented ethnic minority in Kunming were the 75 Dulong people living in the city.
Registered ethnic populations of Kunming as of 2006:
- Han (汉族): 4,383,500
- Yi (彝族): 400,200
- Hui (回族): 149,000
- Bai (白族): 73,200
- Miao (苗族): 46,100
- Lisu (傈僳族): 17,700
- Zhuang (壮族): 14,000
- Dai (傣族): 13,200
- Hani (哈尼族): 11,000
- Naxi (纳西族): 8,400
- Manchu (满族): 4,800
- Buyei (布依族): 3,400
- Mongol (蒙古族): 2,500
- Lahu (拉祜族): 1,700
- Tibetan (藏族): 1,500
- Yao (瑶族): 1,100
- Jingpo (景颇族): 1,100
- Va (佤族): 1,000
- Blang (布朗族): 441
- Primi (普米族): 421
- Sui (水族): 294
- Achang (阿昌族): 263
- Nu (怒族): 156
- Jino (基诺族): 135
- Derung (独龙族): 75
The city center has three major squares and five major streets: Jinma Biji Square, Nanping Square and Dongfeng Square along with Nanping Jie, Jinbi Lu, Renmin Lu, Zhengyi Lu and Jingxin Jie. Qingnian Lu, Zhengyi Lu, and Renmin Lu are the main commercial areas in Kunming; the most popular pedestrian streets are Nanping Jie, Jingxing Birds-Flowers’ Market, and Jinma Biji Fang.
Kunming’s public focus is the huge square outside the now-demolished Workers’ Cultural Hall at the Beijing Lu-Dongfeng Lu intersection, where in the mornings there are crowds doing taijiquan and playing badminton. Weekend amateur theatre are also performed in the square. Rapidly being modernized, the city’s true center is west of the square across the adjacent Panlong River (now more of a canal), outside the Kunming Department Store at the Nanping Lu/Zhengyi Lu crossroads, a densely crowded shopping precinct packed with clothing and electronics stores. The river is polluted, black and oily. Surrounding the area are plenty of new high-rises.
The center is an area of importance to Kunming’s Hui population, with Shuncheng Jie, one of the last old streets in the center of the city, previously forming a Muslim quarter. Until shortly before 2005, this street was full of wind-dried beef and mutton carcasses, pitta bread and raisin sellers, and huge woks of roasting coffee beans being stirred with shovels. Under Kunming’s rapid modernisation, however, the street has been demolished to make way for apartments and shopping centers. Rising behind a supermarket one block north off Zhengyi Lu, Nancheng Qingzhen Si is the city’s new mosque, its green dome and chevron-patterned minaret visible from afar and built on the site of an earlier Qing edifice.
Running west off Zhengyi Jie just past the mosque,
Jingxing Jie leads into one of the more bizarre corners of the city, with Kunming’s huge Bird and Flower Market convening daily in the streets connecting it with the northerly, parallel Guanghua Jie. The market offers many plants such as orchids that have been collected and farmed across the province. In the small grounds of Wen Miao, a now vanished Confucian temple off the western end of Changchun Lu, there is an avenue of pines, an ancient pond and pavilion, and beds of bamboo, azaleas and potted palms.
Jinbi Lu runs roughly parallel to and south of Dongfeng Lu, reached from Beijing Lu. Two large Chinese pagodas rise in the vicinity, each a solid thirteen storeys of whitewashed brick crowned with four iron cockerels. The West Pagoda was built between 824 and 859, during the Tang dynasty; its original counterpart, the East Pagoda, was built at the same time, but was destroyed by an earthquake in 1833 and rebuilt in the same Tang style in 1882. South down Dongsi Jie, past another mosque, the entrance to the West Pagoda is along a narrow lane on the right. In the tiny surrounding courtyard, sociable idlers while away sunny afternoons playing cards and sipping tea in the peaceful, ramshackle surroundings. The East Pagoda is a more cosmetic, slightly tilted duplicate standing in an ornamental garden a few minutes’ walk east on Shulin Jie. The temples associated with both pagodas are closed to the public.
Cuihu Park (Green Lake Park) is one of Kunming’s major parks and is predominately a lake surrounded
by greenery. Located in the west side of the park is the statue of one of Yunnan’s most famous patriots—Nie Er, the composer of China’s national anthem. Now it is open to public for free.
Daguan Park lies on Dian Chi in Kunming’s southwestern limits. Originally laid out by the Kangxi Emperor in the Qing dynasty, it has been modified over the years to include a noisy funfair, food stalls and emporiums, and is a favourite haunt of Kunming’s youth.
Kunming’s zoo, founded in 1950, is adjoined to Yuantong Park. The zoo houses 5,000 animals from 140 species and receives 3 million visitors a year.
Other parks in Kunming include Black Dragon Pool, and the Kunming Botanical Gardens in the north, and Wenmiao Tea Garden in Wuhua District.
The “Garden of the World Horticultural Exposition”, located in the northern suburbs of Kunming, is six kilometres (3.7 miles) from central Kunming. From 1 May to 31 October 1999, Kunming held the 1999 World Horticulture Exposition, with the theme of “Man and Nature—Marching Toward the 21st Century”.
The “Golden Hall Scenic Zone”, located on the Mingfeng Hill in the northern suburbs of Kunming, is eight kilometres (5.0 miles) from central Kunming. Constructed in 1602 (the 30th year of the Wanli reign period of the Ming dynasty), all of its beams, pillars, arches, doors, windows, tiles, Buddhist statues, and horizontal inscribed boards are made of copper, weighing more than 200 tons. It is the largest copper building in China.
Notable museums in Kunming:
- Yunnan Provincial Museum
- Kunming City Museum (redeveloped in 2014)
- Kunming Natural History Museum of Zoology (opened in November 2006)
- Yunnan Ethnology Museum (opened 1995)
Yuantong Si is Kunming’s major Buddhist temple. It is Kunming’s largest and most famous temple with the original structure being first constructed more than 1,200 years ago during the Tang dynasty. The temple sits in a depression on the southern side of Yuantong Park. Northwest about 12 km (7.5 mi) from the city center is the Qiongzhu Si (Bamboo Temple) built in 639 and rebuilt in 1422 to 1428. Numerous Buddhist temples line the road to the Dragon Gate (龙门) in the Western Mountains (西山).
South Asian Gate will be Kunming’s first supertall skyscraper.