Botanists, biologists and geologists from all over the world have visited Yunnan not only for its charming weather, attractive scenery and diverse culture but also for its rich natural resources. They often come to research Yunnan's interesting geologic history. You will not be surprised why Yunnan is the Kingdom of Plants, Kingdom of Animals and the Kingdom of Non-ferrous Metals after you examine the following resources. 15,000 species of plants grow in Yunnan accounting for more than half of the country's total. To name some of the cash crops: tobacco, No.1 in the country, sugarcane, tea.
In the mid 19th century the French and British upon learning of Yunnan's vast deposits of copper and tin were determined to exploit these resources. The French built the Indochina railroad to Kunming beginning in 1898 to remove the non-ferrous metals found there and to tap into Yunnan's forest reserves. All of the land near the railroad was cleared and the lumber removed. The scars of this uncontrolled logging are still visable today. Also the present day smelters of metal ores locally mined contribute to local air quality problems. When looking down on the City from the Western Hills it is sometimes possible to see a layer of smog covering the northern areas of Kunming.
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