Zhaotong is located in northeast Yunnan on the middle and upper reaches of Yangtse River (Jinshajiang), Zhaotong Prefecture occupies an area of 2.3 million hectares and home to 4.7 million people.
Three great rivers -- the Jinshajiang, the Niulanjiang and the Baishuijiang -- and other 390 smaller rivers and branches have cut deep valleys in the Wumeng Range and at Wulianfeng. Just four percent of the land is flat. Zhaotong Prefecture's diverse geography ranges from Shuifu County at 267 meters in elevation to the tallest Yaoshan Mountain in Qiaojia County at 4041 meters. Trees found there include virgin dove trees (Davidia involucrata) in Xiaocaoba in Yiliang County and also the lacebark pine in Xindian, Qiaojia County.
Zhaotong is used to be the venue of an important conference held in February of 1935 during Chinese Red Army's Long March and it used to be an important gateway to Sichuan and Guizhou provinces, and one of the major economic and cultural center on the "Silk Road" in south China.
The following passage regarding the history of Jinsha is fascinating, if you consider that the Shang dynasty was based in the opposite corner of China, had an extremely limited domain under its direct control, and is considered to represent the dawn of 'civilisation' in China. The Shang dynasty saw the advent of writing, complex society, walled cities, chariots, and the perfection of bronzeworking (bronze being the first metal wrought).
The isotopic examination of 91 bronze articles unearthed from the Fuhao Tomb [Lady Hao is the first known female military general of China. Her tomb is located in Northern Hebei province, which is around 1500 kilometres away in north-east China.], dating back to the Shang Dynasty (11st-16th century BC) how that some of the materials were made at the Jinsha Factory located in today's Yongshan County. Because of the rich reserves of copper in Yunnan, the ancient Dian Kingdom was famous for its "bronze civilization." Isotopic examinations of the bronze ware discovered in Shizhai Hill prove that the raw material for the ancient articles unearthed came from within Yunnan. Archeological discoveries of many ancient tombs located in Yunnan have shown that bronze articles for daily use were already common in this area some 2,000 years ago. Articles unearthed range from kettles, bowls, plates, tables, wine bottles, barrels, hatchets, bronze pillows to whole sets of tools for spinning and weaving, farming and fishing, and many weapons.
Note that judging by Chinese maps, Jinsha appears to be a backwater these days. It's accessible by travelling southwest 13km from Wanhe (万和) towards Daxing (大兴), then turning south for 3km.
Weixin County (威信县)
In 1999, the Hong Kong based China Exploration and Research Society discovered a hanging-coffin site in Weixin. CERS subsequently studied and dated the coffins to the Tang dynasty, making Weixin's hanging-coffin site the oldest known.