The province is mostly mountainous. Dianchi Lake, near Kunming, is one of the largest freshwater lakes in China.
Many tribes lived in Yunnan during China’s early history. Around 300 B.C., soldiers from the Chu state, in southeastern China, conquered these tribes. The soldiers settled in the area and established the Kingdom of Dian. The Mongol leader Kublai Khan conquered parts of what is now Yunnan in 1253.
Yunnan became a province of China during the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368). A dynasty is a series of rulers from the same family. In 1855, Muslims and other ethnic minorities in Yunnan rebelled against the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). The uprising became known as the Panthay Rebellion. The Chinese government put down the rebellion in 1873. About 1 million people were killed.