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Yunnan (‘South of the Clouds’) Province in s central China, bounded by Laos and Vietnam (s) and Burma (w); the capital is Kunming. Its remote, mountain location enabled Yunnan to retain an independent status until conquered by the Mongols in 1253. In 1659 it became a province of China. Chinese communist forces captured it in 1950. Yunnan divides (along ethnic lines) into eight autonomous districts, which are home to many of China's minority nationalities. It is renowned for the rich diversity of its wildlife, particularly rare plant species. Agriculture is restricted to a few plains, with rice the major crop. Its valuable mineral resources include deposits of tin, tungsten, copper, gold, silver. Mining and timber are the main industries. Area: 436,200sq km (168,482sq mi). Pop. (2000) 42,880,000.