Xishuangbanna is an autonomous prefecture in Yunnan Province, China. The capital city is Jinghong, the largest settlement in the area and one that straddles the Mekong River, called the Lancang River in Chinese. The prefecture has an area of 19,700 km². Xishuangbanna is the home of the Dai people. The region sits at a lower altitude than most of Yunnan, and has a tropical climate. It is fast becoming a sought after tourist destination. Xishuangbanna harbors much of the biodiversity of Yunnan Province, which harbors much of the biodiversity of China. Its tropical climate and its remoteness until recent times accounts for this. In addition to an abundance of plants, Xishuangbanna is home to the last few Asian elephants still in China; the species roamed over a large part of the country even as late as a few hundred years ago. The elephants are protected in a reserve, but the plant diversity is threatened by, and has for five decades been threatened by, the proliferation of rubber plantations which completely destroy the rainforest and replace it with a monoculture of trees originally from Brazil. Passiflora xishuangbannaensis is a recently discovered passion flower species that is endemic to Xishuangbanna. Xishuangbanna is rich in nature, historical and cultural resources, noted for its folklore, rain forests, rare plants and wildlife. Its major tourist attractions include Menglun Tropical Botanical Garden, Manfeilong Pagodas (Tanuozhuanglong), Jingzhen Pavilion, Wild Elephant Gully, Dai people's village at Ganlanba.
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