The Longji terraces, maintained by the Zhuang Minority
The Longji terraces or rice paddies in Guilin, Guangxi Province
The Longji terraces area is famous for the excessively large number of terraced rice paddy fields on its mountain, which have created an intricate pattern on the hillsides. Set amongst the villages of the minorities Zhuang and Yao, the area allows for easy to moderate walking/hiking possibilities along and up hillsides to view the panoramas of the terraced rice fields, as well as glimpse the rural life and style of architecture found in the forest-fringed villages.
Longji means ‘Dragon Backed Mountain’. When the paddies are full of water in spring, it is said to resemble the scales on the back of a dragon. The fields are beautiful all year round, in the early stages when filled with water, and as the rice grows and matures, changing colours as it does so. Winter may also see snow. Rape flowers are also to be seen in some parts and in some seasons, and along the journey here, there is forest-clad steep-sloped mountain scenery to be taken in.
The Longji terraces are comprised of two separate but closely located areas: the Ping’An terrace fields, and the JinKeng terrace fields, each with their own villages and hamlets within easy walking distance. Ping’An terrace fields are comprised of Ping’An village, and two smaller hamlets, and is a Zhuang minority inhabited area. JinKeng terrace fields comprise DaZhai village, as well as 5 smaller hamlets, including TianTou village higher up the mountain. JinKeng is predominantly or completely Yao minority inhabited.
Separated from the center of China and the Yangtze River basin by the Nan Mountains, Guangxi has always been distinct from the rest of China. The Han Chinese empire first expanded into Guangxi in the 3rd century BC. The Ling Canal was cut around the time, allowing small boats to transit from the Yangtze to the south flowing Xi River via the Xiang River.
Trade grew along the canal and river routes. Guilin was founded as a trading post in the 1st century BC on the West bank of the Kuei River. During the Ming dynasty, a garrison was set up in Guilin and the surrounding area gradually civilised with the development of farmland. The city had a population of over two million at the time of the Second World War, but was utterly destroyed during the war. The population slowly recovered with post-war construction of several factories for the production of paper, chemicals and agricultural equipment. However, market forces have caused several of these industries to relocate out of Guilin.
Guangxi and Guilin are home to 12 different ethnic minorities besides the Han Chinese. Guangxi is an autonomous region for the Zhuang ethnic group, rather than a province.