Thursday, February 2

This is Yanjin, the narrowest city in the world: more than 300,000 inhabitants and less than 300 meters wide

So out of the ordinary and surreal are the dimensions of Yanjin, a county in the prefectural city of Zhaotong, in southwestern China, that it seems more like something out of a fantasy tale than a geographic atlas. Throughout its history, the population has been growing following the course of the Nanxi River and sheltered by the mountains. And that, over the years, has given him a peculiar physiognomyso elongated that it is often presented as “the narrowest city in the world”.

Merits are not lacking to hold that unofficial record, of course. According to the youtuber Guizhou Li Jun, who last year shot a documentary about the population with the help of drones that already exceeds 1.2 million views, at its narrowest point the settlement – located in the province of Yunnan – measures 30 meters wide and in the largest it does not exceed 300.

Despite its peculiar structure, almost like a corridor, the population has been growing vertically, with buildings and residential towers that wind along the banks of the Nanxi and climb into its waters.

Winding down the Nanxi River

In total, Li Jun estimates that some 376,000 people reside in the county, although other sources put the total census above 400,000. Aerial images of it show clusters of multi-story buildings, businesses, parking lots, and traffic gliding down paved streets.

Having grown for miles, wedged between steep slopes and at the foot of a river, marks the landscape of Yanjin to a great extent. The population is separated by the turbulent waters of the Nanxi and has several bridges that connect the two banks. To be prepared when the water level rises and when land is scarce, some buildings stand on pillars. Yanjin is about two and a half hours from the center of Zhaotong, a city with many buildings.

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Li Jun explains that in ancient times the main business in the area was the salt trade, precisely from which Yanjin still takes its name today. “The area is rich in natural resources and is surrounded by steep mountains on both sides,” explains the youtuber, who jokes: “You won’t get lost here.” As a whole, the prefectural city of is one of the most impoverished areas in the country.

Today, thanks to its surprising profile, Yanjin also enjoys an important tourist potential appreciated by its own rulers. “A city on the edge of the precipice of modernity! Visit Yanjin County in Yunnan Province, the narrowest city in China, with steep mountains on both sides, the narrowest point is less than 30 meters”, stood out in december Through her Twitter account, the Chinese consul in Belfast, Zhang Meifang.

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