Puer (Simao) Prefecture


During many centuries, Simao city (now called Puer) was the southern border of Yunnan. Beyond Simao were the land inhabited by peoples governed by their tusi or local heads: as malaria infested Xishuangbanna and border regions of scarce interest to the Chinese government.

Nowadays is still a prefecture (officially a region (tiqu) of prefectural level) with an interesting ethnic variety. Six officially designated national minorities have ethnic administrative units in Puer Prefecture, but their bad communicated mountains preserve one of the richest ethnic treasures of China.


Occupying the central part of Yunnan, Puer shows a pattern of ethnic distribution, in the past common to the whole province. The lowlands are inhabited by different branches of the Dai nationality, and the highlands by some branches of the Yi nationality in the north of Puer, by different stocks of Hani, from Menglian to Mojiang, in the south; and, in the southwest of Puer, by the Wa nationality.

Puer Region contains the Puer metropolitan area and 9 autonomous counties. Its area is 45, 385 km² and its population is 2, 480, 346. Puer is famous in China by the tea of the same name (the prefectures' name, in fact, was changed to better promote their famous tea).

Puer tea receives its name because former Puer County was the center where the tea cultivated in south Yunnan was processed. This tea is of vital economic importance to many nationalities: Deang, Bulang, Hani, Wa. There are many myths and legends that stress the importance of the Puer tea to these peoples.

Puer, with a territory eminently mountainous, share borders with Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. It has a pristine nature and difficult communications.



Puer Prefecture is divided in the following administrative units:

- Simao District (Puer District). The metropolitan political and administrative center. In the south of the Prefecture.
- Ning'er Hani and Yi Autonomous County (formerly known as Puer Hani and Yi Autonomous County).
- Mojiang Hani Autonomous County. In the east.
- Jingdong Yi Autonomous County. In the north.
- Jinggu Dai and Yi Autonomous County. In the north.
- Zhenyuan Yi, Hani and Lahu Autonomous County. In the north.
- Jiangcheng Hani and Yi Autonomous County. In the border with Vietnam and Laos

In the southwest of the prefecture, far away from the Chinese world:

- Menglian Dai, Lahu and Wa Autonomous County.
- Lancang Lahu Autonomous County
- Ximeng Wa Autonomous County

See also: Puer ethnic exuberance for a brief account of the more than 33 ethnic groups living in Puer.

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