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Updated: 2020-03-24

The city of Sanya, also called "Lucheng", was officially established with the approval of the State Council in May 1984. It is located on southern Hainan Island and borders Lingshui county in the east, Ledong county in the west, Baoting county in the north, and the South China Sea in the south.

The city has jurisdiction over four administrative districts, namely Haitang, Jiyang, Tianya, and Yazhou, with a total land area of 1,921 square kilometers and a sea area of 3,500 square kilometers. 

With its unique geographical environment, Sanya is the only city in China that can enjoy a tropical rainforest and ocean scenery at the same time. The city is surrounded by mountains on three sides, and the three beautiful landscapes of mountains, the sea, and rivers merge naturally. Many of its hilltops also provide places overlooking the sea, river bay, and urban landscape.The natural scenery and excellent ecological environment make Sanya a paradise for daily living, travel, and vacations.

With a rich and long history, the city of Sanya also boasts rich intangible cultural heritages, with two local art forms, dachaiwu (chopping wood dance) of the Li ethnic group and Yacheng Folk Songs, selected as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2006, as well as seven cultural items listed on the provincial intangible cultural heritage list.

Meanwhile, Sanya is one of the few places in China where the Li ethnic group have settled. Over the past thousand years, this ethnic group created architecture, music and dancing, garments and brocades. The facial tattoos of the Li people have been highly praised as a "living fossil of body art". The Miao and Hui people are other ethnic groups living in Sanya, and their distinctive cultures and customs attract many visitors annually.

The city has won the titles of "National Ecological Demonstration Zone", "National Garden City", "National Health City", and "China Habitat Environment Award".

In 2019, the city of Sanya opened wider to the outside world in its tourism industry, actively promoting the visa-free policy of 59 countries, while setting up eight tourism promotion centers in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. It also newly opened 24 overseas air routes, connecting itself with 46 cities across the world and transporting over 1 million passengers who traveled between Sanya and overseas areas throughout the year.

In 2019, the number of overnight tourists hosted by Sanya reached 23.96 million, an increase of 10 percent over the previous year. Among them, 23.06 million were from across China, an increase of 9.4 percent, and 905,300 overnight tourists arrived in Sanya from abroad, an increase of 26.6 percent. The total tourism revenue for the year reached 63.32 billion yuan ($8.93 billion), an increase of 15.6 percent over the previous year, of which the domestic tourism revenue reached 57.72 billion yuan, an increase of 13.3 percent.

In 2019, Sanya's gross domestic product (GDP) hit 67.79 billion yuan, an increase of 6.4 percent over that of 2018. The added value of the primary industry was 7.15 billion yuan, an increase of 3.7 percent, while the added value of the secondary industry and the tertiary industry was 11.24 billion yuan and 49.39 billion yuan, an increase of 3.1 percent and 7.6 percent respectively.


Sanya Phoenix Island [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]