Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, is the political, economic and cultural center and also the transport and communication hub of the province. Kunming has no bitter cold in winter and heat in summer with blossoms opening all the year round. Hence it has enjoyed the reputation of the 'Spring City'. With a history more than 2,400 years, it owns its importance to the fact that is was the gateway to the well-known South Silk Road that facilitated trade with Tibet, Sichuan, Myanmar and India.
The name of Dali is originated from that of a local regime in history called Kingdom Dali, meaning a state of great order. Many of the architectures of the city were built of marble from the ore nearby, and that is why it is also called a city of Dali Stone (marble). Both Chinese writing and pronunciation of 'great order' and 'marble' are the same. Marble buildings, marble streets, marble wall foundations and marble wells make the city so bright and limpid as if it is a tranquil fairyland. Each family loves door carving and wall-decoration; every household has a flower garden.
Lijiang includes the heritage site of Lijiang Ancient Town as well as picturesque nearby surroundings. In 1998, Lijiang Ancient Town was inscribed into the World Heritage List by the World Heritage Commission of the UNESCO. The Commission called it 'an exceptional ancient town set in a dramatic landscape which represents the harmonious fusion of different cultural traditions to produce an urban landscape of outstanding quality.
Zhongdian was named officially Shangri-La in 2001. Shangri-La is a name that has worked its way into the English language. Synonymous with utopia, the word was first used in 1933, coined by the English author James Hilton in his novel Lost Horizon. Shangri-La was a fictitious paradise, characterized by towering snow-capped mountains, lush forests, vast gorges and idyllic lakes. The beautiful scenery described by Hilton made the name stick in popular memory and arouses a certain curiosity and mystery whenever it is heard.