Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country, which borders Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar (Burma). Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with high elevations in the northwest and low elevations in the southeast. Most of the 46 million population lives in the eastern part of the province. In the west, the altitude can vary from the mountain peaks to river valleys as much as 3,000 metres.
As with other parts of China's southwest, Japanese occupation in the north during World War II forced a migration of majority Han people into the region. Ethnic minorities in Yunnan account for about 34 percent of its total population. Major ethnic groups include Yi, Bai, Hani, Zhuang, Dai and Miao.
Shāxī was once a crucial node on one of the old Tea-Horse Roads that stretched from Yúnnán to India. Only three caravan oases remain, Shāxī being the best preserved and the only one with a surviving market (held on Fridays). The village’s wooden houses, courtyards and narrow, winding streets make it a wonderful location to imagine the old times.