Qinling (Chinese: 秦岭) or Qin Mountains, formerly known as the
Nanshan ("Southern Mountains") and sometimes called the "Szechuan
Alps", are a major east-west mountain range in southern Shaanxi
Province, China. The mountains provide a natural boundary between
North and South
China and support a huge variety of plant and
wildlife, some of which is found nowhere else on earth.
To the north is the densely populated
Wei River valley, an ancient
center of Chinese civilization. To the south is the Han River valley.
To the west is the line of mountains along the northern edge of the
Tibetan Plateau. To the east are the lower Funiu and
Dabie Shan which
rise out of the coastal plain.
The northern side of the range is prone to hot weather, however the
physical barrier of the mountains mean that the land to the North has
a semi-arid climate, with the lack of rich, fertile landscape that can
not support a wealth of wildlife. The mountains also acted as a
natural defense against nomadic invasions from the North, as only four
passes cross the mountains. In the late 1990s a railway tunnel and a
spiral was completed, thereby easing travel across the range.
The highest mountain in the range is
Mount Taibai at 3,767 meters
(12,359 ft), which is about 100 kilometers (62 mi) west of
the ancient Chinese capital of Xi'an and is the highest mountain in
Mount Hua (2,155 meters or 7,070 feet),
Mount Li (1,302
meters or 4,272 feet), and
Mount Maiji (1,742 meters or 5,715 feet)
make up the three other significant peaks in the range.
Environment, flora and fauna
The environment of the Qin Mountains is a deciduous forest
The Qin Mountains form the watershed between the
Yellow River basin of
northern China, which was historically home to deciduous broadleaf
forests, and the
Yangzi River basin of southern China, which has
milder winters and more rainfall, and was historically home to warm
temperate evergreen broadleaf forests.
The low-elevation forests of the foothills are dominated by temperate
deciduous trees like oaks (
Quercus acutissima, Q. variabilis), elm
(Ulmus spp.), common walnut (Juglans regia), maple (Acer spp.), ash
Fraxinus spp.) and
Celtis spp. Evergreen species of these
low-elevation forests include broadleaf chinquapins (Castanopsis
sclerophylla), ring-cupped oaks (
Quercus glauca) and conifers like
At the middle elevations, conifers like
Pinus armandii are mixed with
broadleaf birch (Betula spp.) oak (
Quercus spp.) and hornbeam
Carpinus spp.). From 2,600 to 3,000 meters (8,500 to 9,800 ft)
elevation, these mid-elevation forests give way to a subalpine forests
of fir (Abies fargesii, A. chensiensis), Cunninghamia, and birch
(Betula spp.), with rhododendron (Rhododendron fastigiatum) abundant
in the understory.
The region is home to a large number of rare plants, of which around
3,000 have so far been documented. Plant and tree species native to
the region include Ginkgo, thought to be one of the oldest species of
tree in the world, as well as Huashan or Armand pine (Pinus armandii),
Huashan shen (
Acer miaotaiense and
Chinese fir. Timber harvesting reached a peak in the 18th century
Home to the
Qinling pandas, a sub-species of the giant panda, which
are protected in the region with the help of the Changqing and Foping
nature reserves, between 250 and 280 giant pandas live in the
region, which is estimated to represent around a fifth of the entire
wild giant panda population. The mountains are also home to the
golden takin, golden pheasant, golden snub-nosed monkey, Temminck's
tragopan, crested ibis, golden eagle, blackthroat and clouded
The Chinese giant salamander, at 1.8 meters (5 ft 11 in) the
largest amphibian in the world, is critically endangered as it is
collected for food and for use in traditional Chinese medicine. An
environmental education programme is being undertaken to encourage
sustainable management of wild populations in the Qin Mountains and
captive breeding programmes have been set up.
Qinling Orogenic Belt
^ a b World Wildlife Fund (2001). "
Qinling Mountains deciduous
Ecoregion Profile. National Geographic Society.
Archived from the original on 2010-03-08. Retrieved 17 December
Qinling Breakthroughs". Highbeam Research. Retrieved
^ a b c "
Qinling Mountains". Bookrags.com. Retrieved 17 December
^ Olson, D. M, E. Dinerstein; et al. (2001). "Terrestrial Ecoregions
of the World: A New Map of Life on Earth". BioScience. 51 (11):
Archived from the original on January 25, 2010. CS1 maint:
Multiple names: authors list (link)
^ a b "Qin Ling Mountains deciduous forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions.
World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved June 5, 2011.
Qinling Mountains". Wild Giant Panda. Retrieved 2007-12-17.
Forest and Land Management in Imperial
China By Nicholas K. Menzies
Qinling giant panda focal project". WWF China. Archived from the
original on 2007-10-27. Retrieved 2007-12-17.
^ "Chinese Giant Salamander". ZSL Conservation. Zoological Society of
London. Retrieved 2013-07-21.
Mountain ranges of China
Geography of China
and Southwest China
Bayan Har Mountains
Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains
Landforms of China