Guizhou province lies in southwest China, between 103°37' and 109°32'E and 24°37' and 29°13'N.
Many national minorities (Dong, Hui, Yao, Zhuang) live in Guizhou, with the Miao in the majority.
85 per cent of Guizhou is a high plateau crossed by mountain ranges, the highest peak being 2900m/9520ft. The level of the land drops in three stages from east to west, and the dense network of rivers and valleys produces a very complex natural structure.
The climate is the typical monsoon type with mild winters and warm summers. In the capital Guiyang the average temperature in July is 24°C (75°F) and in January 4°C (39°F).
Rainfall amounts are very large (1000-1500mm/40-60in. per annum), and very few days have completely cloud-free skies. When talking about Guizhou province the Chinese are fond of the saying ''There are never three days of clear skies nor three dry feet of earth to be seen in Guizhou''.
This region was originally inhabited by minorities, mainly the Miao. Its history has been marked by constant uprisings against the ever-increasing influence exerted by the Chinese central government.
Guizhou's industries - iron and steel, engineering, electronics, tires, cement and fertilizers - are centered mainly in Guiyang and Zunyi. The major mining products are mercury, coal, bauxite and manganese ore.
In the field of agriculture the main crops are of rice, wheat, maize, rape, potatoes and tobacco. Silkworm breeding and the production of tung oil are also of importance.
The spirit known as maotai jiu, made from wheat and sorghum, is known worldwide.
Maotai is situated about 150km/90mi north of the provincial capital of Guiyang.
From the latter it is possible to proceed by train to Zunyi and from there by bus to Maotai.
A few hundred years ago Maotai was just a small village. In 1741 a harbor was built which became the main shipping center for salt imported from the province of Sichuan. In the ensuing period the port underwent rapid development.
Although today Maotai has become an important trading center for the provinces of Guizhou and Sichuan, it has retained its almost medieval townscape with stone steps, narrow alleyways and houses built in the traditional Chinese style.