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Tourists Visit Yunnan's Stone Forest Scenic Spot with Visions of Avatar

Performers of Yi ethnic group sing and dance
            near the Stone Forest in southwest China's Yunnan Province on Feb. 4,
            2009.[Xinhua File Photo]

Performers of Yi ethnic group sing and dance near the Stone Forest in southwest China's Yunnan Province on Feb. 4, 2009.[Xinhua File Photo] 

In addition to blockbuster film Avatar's growing popularity in China, fans have become captivated by "Pandora," the mysterious planet from the film. During the Chinese New Year holiday, China's southwestern Yunnan Province witnessed more than 90,000 visitors to the Stone Forest attraction since it is reminiscent of the forest depicted in the film.

Located 80 kilometers southeast of Yunnan Province's capital of Kunming, the Stone Forest scenic area boasts landscapes that underwent complicated geographic transforms and environmental changes at the time of their formation 270 million years ago. The Stone Forest is a representation of a Karst landform, characterized by dissolved hillock elevations, caves, lakes and waterfalls as well as underground rivers.

In the film Avatar, the fictional planet "Pandora" is comprised of fantastically tall trees, floating mountains and colorful, dense forest with bizarre plants. In the Stone Forest scenic area, visitors can enjoy extraordinary views of unique stones that evoke images of ancient castles and mazes under the sea.

During this year's Spring Festival, an average of 15,000 tourists paid a visit to the Stone Forest. The number of tourists rose 21.5% over the same period last year. Among them, many arrived independently in their own vehicle. Statistics shows that 90% of the independent tourists came from Yunnan's neighboring provinces and cities such as Guangxi, Sichuan, Guizhou, Chongqing and Chengdu.

The Stone Forest scenic zone was listed as a World Natural Reserve by the United Nations in 2007.