Welcome to Yanjin, the World’s Narrowest City

Built along the Nanxi River, between the steep mountains of China’s Yunnan Province, Yanjin county is widely regarded as the world’s narrowest city.

Looking at Yanjin county from above, it’s hard to believe that such a settlement actually exists in real life. The narrow stretch of usable land sandwiched between the troubled waters of the Nanxi River and steep mountains on either side hardly seems like a suitable location for a city of roughly 450,000 people, but that’s exactly what makes Yanjin so special. It looks more like something you’d expect to see in a fantasy movie, or in a building simulation game than a modern-day city.

At its narrowest point, Yanjin is only 30 meters wide, while the widest part of the city measures around 300 meters. It is traversed by one main road on each side and even though the city stretches for several kilometers along the river, there don’t seem to be too many bridges.

Apart from the extreme narrowness, Yanjin has another noticeable particularity. Because land is such a precious commodity in the area, many of the apartment buildings are located right on the banks of the river and are built on stilt-like thin pillars, to protect them from flooding in case the water level rises.

Drone-shot footage of Yanjin has been going viral on Chinese social media for years, leaving many scratching their heads about the reason why anyone would want to live in such a narrow city, when China has so much more suitable land. But the truth is that this area has been inhabited for hundreds of years, and many of the locals wouldn’t consider living anywhere else.


Unfortunately, while awe-inspiring, the infrastructure of Yanjin has reportedly hindered its economic development. Being surrounded by mountains on all sides, and with just one main road passing through the city, the county is considered inaccessible by many.


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