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Print Updated: 2019-04-29

Sanya is located in the southern part of Hainan Island, close to Lingshui county on the east, Ledong county on the west and Baoting county on the north. To its south is the South China Sea.

In May 1984, the State Council approved Sanya as a county-level city and in 1987 it was named a prefecture-level city. It is a transportation and communication hub in southern Hainan and an important pivot of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative.

Sanya administers four districts, Haitang, Jiyang, Tianya and Yazhou, covering a land area of 1,921 square kilometers and a maritime area of 3,500 sq km. Its coastline extends 259 kilometers. It boasts 19 harbors, 10 main islands and 11 rivers with independent mouths to the sea.

Sanya is home to several ethnic groups such as Han, Li, Miao, Hui and Zhuang. At the end of 2017, the permanent resident population in the city was 764,000 and the registered population was 592,000.

Time-honored history and abundant cultural heritage

Sanya was known literally as the "cliff state or prefecture" in ancient times. The ruins of Sanya people found by archaeologists in Luobi Cave are the earliest human settlement sites in Hainan yet discovered. They are also the southernmost ruins of China's Paleolithic culture found to date and indicate that humans were living in the Hainan area two to three thousand years earlier than previously believed.

The intangible cultural heritage resources in Sanya are rich and widespread. Dachai Dance and Yacheng folk song of the Li ethnic group have been listed as protected national-level intangible cultural heritages. Seven other items including original pottery of the Li ethnic group are also intangible cultural heritage protection items at the provincial level, and eleven items such as wooden tools used to make fire have been put under city-level intangible cultural heritage protection.

Pleasant climate and enchanting scenery

Sanya enjoys a tropical ocean monsoon climate with annual average rainfall of 1,417 millimeters. The city has blue skies more than 300 days per year. It boasts a good ecological environment and the air quality remains among the best in China.

The city abounds in forest resources and the forest coverage rate is 69 percent. The area of public green space per capita is 15.4 square meters. It has received honorable titles such as National-level Ecological Demonstration Area, National Garden City and National Health City.

Sanya has enough tropical coastal scenery to be known as the “Oriental Hawaii”. It’s surrounded by mountains on three sides and faces the sea. Two rivers flow through downtown Sanya. The natural integration of mountains, sea, rivers and the city makes Sanya a paradise in terms of habitation, tourism and holiday options.

Beyond its ocean, beach, sunshine and fresh air, Sanya’s other resources such as hot springs, grottos and national customs also make the city especially attractive to visitors.

The city prioritizes the tourism industry and intends to use its natural advantages to develop it as an economic pillar. Its popular tourist destinations include Tianya Haijiao or the End of the Earth, Luhuitou Park, Nanshan Mountain, Yalong Bay Tropical Paradise Forest Park, Wuzhizhou Island and Dongtian Park.

Other tourism draws, such as inland river trips, yachting, cruising and wedding celebrations, are also developing.

A coastal tourist city opens to the world

In recent years, the city focused on becoming a world-class coastal tourism city, built infrastructure and improved related services. With Sanya Phoenix International Airport, the Hainan Western Ring High-Speed Railway which links Sanya to Haikou, capital of Hainan province, and a cruise terminal now in place, the city is home to a comprehensive transportation network.

It also houses the world's largest duty-free shop at Haitang Bay.

With good facilities and a hospitable environment, Sanya has hosted the Hainan International Film Festival and the ISY Music Festival. Lots of cultural competitions such as the the Miss World Finals have also been held in the city, increasing its internationalization.

Sanya has established sister city relationships with many cities, including Cannes in France and Khabarovsk in Russia.

Looking ahead, Sanya will fully use the opportunity provided by all of Hainan Island’s becoming a pilot free trade zone. As industries are upgraded and a modern economic system is established across the island, Sanya will be better integrated into the Belt and Road Initiative, and will be well on its way to becoming a superlative international tourism city.

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