Mount Wuyi

From New World Encyclopedia
Mount Wuyi*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Yulu hill, the "symbol" of Wuyi Mountains
State Party Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg China
Type Mixed
Criteria iii, vi, vii, x
Reference 911
Region** Asia-Pacific
Coordinates 27°43′N 117°41′E / 27.717, 117.683
Inscription history
Inscription 1999  (23rd Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

The Wuyi Mountains (Chinese: 武夷山; pinyin: Wǔyí Shān; POJ: Bu-i Soa) designates a mountain range located at the prefecture Nanping. It runs along the northern border of Fujian (Hok-kian) province with Jiangxi province, China, between Wuyishan City at Nanping prefecture of Fujian province and Wuyishan Town at Shangrao city of Jiangxi province.[1] The mountains cover an area of 60 km². In 1999, UNESCO designated Mount Wuyi both a natural and cultural World Heritage Site.

That double designation sets Mount Wuyi apart from many other World Heritage Sites. Noted as the outstanding biodiversity conservation zone of Southeast China, the site covers an area of 999.75 square kilometers with an additional buffer zone of 278.88 square kilometers. From a historical standpoint, Mount Wuyi has the distinction of serving as the ancient capital city of Chengcun in the kingdom of Minyue (334 B.C.E. to 110 B.C.E.). The Minyue kingdom existed contemporary with the all powerful Han dynasty for more than two centuries, finally suffering defeat at the hands of the Han dynasty. Although conquered by the Han dynasty, the Minyue resisted complete subjugation owing to the remote location of the kingdom. In addition to serving as a political capital, Mount Wuyi has served as a religious center. Taoism took root and flourished in on Mount Wuyi, followed by Buddhism at a later date. The combination of Taoism and Buddhism worked together to give birth to a new form of Confucianism, Neo-Confucianism.


Early history

The Wuyi Mountains sit on the northern border of Fujian province with Jiangxi province, China.

Archaeological findings date the first human settlements on the slopes of Mount Wuyi to 2,000 B.C.E. During the Western Han Dynasty, the ancient city of Chengcun served as the capital of the Minyue kingdom.[2] Minyue (Simplified Chinese: 闽越; Traditional Chinese: 閩越) had been an ancient kingdom located in the province of Fujian in Southern China. A contemporary of the Han Dynasty, its inhabitants came from diverse ethnic groups including the Baiyue. The state survived roughly from 334 B.C.E. to 110 B.C.E. According to the Shiji, the founders, belonging to the Yue royal family, fled after Chu and Qi defeated Yue in 334 B.C.E.

The Han dynasty partially conquered Minyue by the end of the second century B.C.E. Its position (being closed off by mountains) made it almost impossible for the Han people to establish a strong grip over that area. An ancient stone city located in inner mountains of Fujian has been thought to be the Minyue capital. The nearby tombs show the same funerary tradition as the state of Yue. Hence the conclusion that the city had been a Minyue center.

Taoism, Buddhism, and Neo-Confucianism

In the seventh century, the Wuyi Palace had been built for emperors to conduct sacrificial activities, a site that has been opened to visitors. The mountains constituted an important center of Taoism and later Buddhism. Remains of thirty five academies erected from the era of the Northern Song to the Qin Dynasty, and more than six Taoist temples and monasteries, have been located.[3]

Most of those remains have only partial archaeological excavation completed. Some exceptions exist, including the authentic remains of the Taoyuan Temple, the Wannian Palace, the Sanqing Hall, the Tiancheng Temple, the Baiyun temple, and the Tianxin temple. The area served as the cradle of Neo-Confucianism, a current that became extremely influential since the eleventh century.


The region makes up part of the Cathayshan fold system and has experienced high volcanic activity. The formation of large fault structures have been subsequently subject to erosion by water and weathering. Winding river valleys flanked by columnar or dome-shaped cliffs as well as cave systems characterize the landscape. Peaks in the western portion of the Wuyi Mountains typically consist of volcanic or plutonic rocks, whereas red sandstone with very steep slopes but flat tops make up the peaks and hills in the eastern area. The Nine-bend River (Jiuqu Xi), about 60 kilometers in length, meanders in a deep gorge among these hills. Mount Huanggang the highest peak in the area at 2,158 meters, making it the highest point of Fujian, with the lowest altitudes measured at around 200 meters.


Nine-bend River in the Wuyi Mountains.

The Wuyi Mountains act as a protective barrier against the inflow of cold air from the northwest and retain warm moist air originating from the sea. As a result, the area has a humid climate (humidity eighty to eighty five percent) with high rainfall (annual average 2,200 millimeters in the south-west and 3,200 millimeters in the north) and common fogs. Lower altitudes experience annual temperatures in the range from 12 to 18 °C.

The area enjoys a relatively pollution-free atmosphere, the Chinese government having set up its first air quality monitoring station in the area on January 31 2005.

Biodiversity and environment

Forest in the nature reserve portion of the Wuyi Mountains.

The Wuyi Mountains constitute the best example of Chinese subtropical forests and South Chinese rain forests' biodiversity. Its ecology has survived from before the Ice Age around three million years ago. Biologists have been conducting field research in the area since 1873.[4]

The vegetation of the area depends strongly on altitude, divided into eleven broad categories: 1) Temperate coniferous forest, 2) warm coniferous forest, 3) temperate broad-leaved and coniferous mixed forest, 4) deciduous and broad-leaved forest, 5) evergreen broad-leaved and deciduous mixed forest, 6) evergreen broad-leaved forest, 7) bamboo forest, 8) deciduous broad-leaved shrub forest, 9) evergreen broad-leaved shrub forest, 10) brush-wood, and 11) meadow steppe. Evergreen broad-leaved forests, some of which make up the largest remaining tracts of humid sub-tropical forests in the world, occur most commonly. Higher plants from 284 families, 1,107 genera and 2,888 species as well as 840 species of lower plant and fungus have been reported for the region. The most common tree families include Beech Fagaceae, Laurel (Lauraceae), Camellia (Theaceae), Magnolia (Magnoliaceae), Elaeocarpaceae, and Witchhazel Hamamelidaceae.[5]

The fauna of the Wuyi Mountains has won renown for its high diversity, which includes many rare and unusual species. In total, approximately 5,000 species have been reported for the area. Four hundred and seventy-five of those species belong to the vertebrate group, and 4,635 the insect classification. The number of vertebrate species divides as follows:

families species
Mammals 23 71
Birds 47 256
Reptiles 13 73
Amphibian 10 35
Fish 12 40

Forty nine of the vertebrate species are endemic to China while three are endemic to the Wuyi Mountains. The latter include the bird David's Parrotbill (Paradoxornis davidianus), Pope’s Spiny Toad (Vibrissaphora liui), and the Bamboo Snake Pseudoxenodon karlschmidti (family Colubridae). Other known endangered species in the area include: South Chinese Tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis), Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Hairy-fronted Muntjac (Muntiacus crinifrons), Mainland Serow (Capricornis sumatraensis—a goat antelope), Cabot's Tragopan (Tragopan caboti), Chinese Black-backed Pheasant (Syrmaticus ellioti), Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus), and the Golden Kaiserihind (Teinopalpus aureus—a Swallowtail Butterfly).

The number of visitors to the area has increased from approximately 424,000 in 1993 to 700,000 in 1998. A raft trip down the Nine-bend River stands as the most popular activity, followed by a visit to the "Thread of Sky" caves, where the narrowest walkway measures only 30 cm. The government controls visitor access to the biodiversity protection area. Farmers produce numerous types of tea around Mount Wuyi, considered the origin of the real Da Hong Pao tea and Lapsang souchong.



  1. David Levinson and Karen Christensen, Encyclopedia of Modern Asia (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2002), 171.
  2. Lingyu Feng and Xiaohuan Su, Zhongguo jing tou: 2001 (Beijing: Wu zhou chuan bo chu ban she).
  3. Changjian Guo, Jianzhi Song, and Lingyu Feng, World Heritage Sites in China (Beijing: China Intercontintal Press, 2003), 190.
  4. T.R. Tregear, China, a Geographical Survey (New York: Wiley, 1980), 305.
  5. Petra Häring-Kuan and Yu-Chien Kuan, Magnificent China: A Guide to its Cultural Treasures (Hong Kong: Joint Pub, 1987), 276.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Feng, Lingyu, and Xiaohuan Su. 2002. Zhongguo jing tou: 2001. Beijing: Wu zhou chuan bo chu ban she. ISBN 9787508500478.
  • Guo, Changjian, Jianzhi Song, and Lingyu Feng. 2003. World Heritage Sites in China. Beijing: China Intercontintal Press. ISBN 9787508502267.
  • Häring-Kuan, Petra, and Yu-Chien Kuan. 1987. Magnificent China: A Guide to its Cultural Treasures. Hong Kong: Joint Pub. ISBN 9789620405662.
  • Levinson, David, and Karen Christensen. 2002. Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 9780684806174.
  • Madeleine, Boyd. 2003. Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Wildlife: Implications for Conservation and Development in the Wuyishan Nature Reserve, Fujian Province, China. Gold Coast, Qld: CRC for Sustainable Tourism. ISBN 9781876685294.
  • Sheng, Qinqin, and Haohan Xu. 1998. Mount Wuyi. Anhui, China: Anhui Science & Technology Pub. ISBN 75337164501.
  • Tregear, T. R. 1980. China, a Geographical Survey. New York: Wiley. ISBN 9780470269251.
  • Zou, Xinqiu. 2006. Shi jie hong cha de shi zu: Wuyi Zheng Shan xiao zhong hong cha. Zhongguo ming cha cong shu. Beijing Shi: Zhongguo nong ye chu ban she. ISBN 9787109108295.

External links

All links retrieved November 10, 2022.


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