Located on the border of the Europe-Asia continental plate, Tengchong is a highly volcanic area. Since 1500, there have been over 70 earthquakes in the area measuring five or more on the Richter scale. The Daying (Beat Hawk) Mountain volcano has erupted many times. Ma'an Mountain consists of three volcanoes, some of which have formed lakes. Tengchong has the best preserved volcano groups from the Cenozoic Era in China.
The history of Tengchong can be traced back to the Han Dynasty, around 100 BC. For 2000 years, it was an important station along the old southwestern silk route. Xu Xiake, a great Ming Dynasty traveler, described the place as the "number one furthest city on the border".
The Han and 22 ethnic minority groups reside in the county. (For more knowledge about China's ethnic minorities, click here).
The place is famed as "the cradle of Tengyue culture," a hybrid culture mixing Han Chinese, local ethnic minority groups, and foreign cultures from Burma.
Tengchong was renowned as the Jadeware factory of China. The jade processing industry has been centered in Tengchong for over 500 years.
Local people work jadeite into bracelets, earrings and many other decorations. In its golden days during the Ming and Qing dynasties, there were more than 500 jadeware workshops and over 3,000 craftsmen in Tengchong. The local Duanjia, Wangjia, Qiluo and Zhengkun jade works, named after their makers, are well known at home and abroad.
Tengchong is also famous for producing traditional Chinese herbal medicines, Xuan paper (high quality paper for traditional Chinese painting) and rattan work which is exported throughout Southeast Asia.
Tengchong, though a small city, has been an important link between southwest China, India and Myanmar since ancient times.
It opened to foreign trade during the Qing dynasty and was even deemed important enough by the British to establish a Consulate there. The first consul arrived in 1899, and the office remained open until the 1940s.
In the first decades of this century, the main route from Dali to Burma crossed Baoshan, continuing westward over the great Salween River before reaching Tengchong.
The building of the Burma Road in the late 1930's shifted the route farther south, from Baoshan to Luxi (Mangshi) and on to Wanding, thus bypassing Tengchong. Today, the Burma Road remains the primary highway in western Yunnan .
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