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White Horse Snow Mountain divides the 瀾滄河 Lancanghe, Mekong River and the 金沙江 Jinshajiang in northern Yunnan Province. The Jinshajiang is the name of the Changjiang in this area.

Baimaxueshan is one of over twenty 5000m plus peaks in the area, and gives its name to the nature reserve which today covers one-third of the Deqin county. It is believed that it was this region that inspired James Hilton's classic utopian narrative of Shangrila, The Lost Horizon. The upland temperate forests found here and elsewhere in southwest China are the most bio-diverse in the world, with thousands of endemic plant and animal species. But despite being amongst China's richest reserves in terms of biodiversity, it is one of the country's poorest areas.

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