The area lies in the Sichuan basin and is surrounded by the Himalayas (喜玛拉雅山脉)to the west, Qinling (秦岭) range to the north, and mountainous areas of Yunnan to the south. The Yangtze River flows through the basin and thus is upstream to areas of eastern China. The Minjiang River in central Sichuan is a tributary of the upper Yangtze River, which it joins at Yibin. Plate tectonics formed the Longmen Shan fault, which runs under the north-easterly mountain location of the 2008 earthquake.

The climate is highly variable. The Sichuan Basin (including Chengdu) in eastern half of the province experiences a subtropical monsoon climate with long, warm to hot, humid summers and short, cool to cold, dry and cloudy winters, with China's lowest sunshine totals. The western areas have a mountainous climate characterized by very cold winters and mild summers, with plentiful sunshine. The southern part of the province, including Panzhihua, has a sunny, subtropical climate with very mild winters and hot summers.

Bordering provinces: Chongqing Municipality, Tibet Autonomous Region, Qinghai, Gansu, Shaanxi, Guizhou and Yunnan.
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