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The Honghe Hani Rice Terraces in Southern Yunnan, China, covers an immense 16,603-hectares. These spectacular terraces cascade down the slopes of the towering Ailao Mountains to the banks of the Hong River. The terraces rise by 3,000 steps at varying angles from a shallow 15 degrees to a steep 75 degrees, forming a magnificent landscape that is rare both at home and abroad. Over the past 1,300 years, the Hani people have developed a complex system of channels to bring water from the forested mountaintops to these terraces. They have also created an integrated farming system that involves buffalos, cattle, ducks, fish and eel and supports the production of red rice, the area’s primary crop.

The Hani people first came to the steep mountains some 2,500 years ago. They struggled against the difficult terrain, successfully establishing the terraces, where they grew rice in order to make a living. The technology of developing fertile land on rugged mountain slopes didn't spread all over China and Southeast Asia until 14th century. In recognition of the Hani people’s creativity, the Ming Dynasty emperor granted them the title of 'Skillful Sculptor' and their good reputation was passed down from generation to generation. Last week, the terraced fields were officially acknowledged by UNESCO as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage site.

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© Amusing Planet, 2013.


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