Overview of Yangtze River

Yangtze river The Yangtze River is located in China. It's Chinese name is Chang Jiang, which means long river in Chinese meaning. Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and it is also the third longest river in the world. The length of the Yangtze River is about 6,418 kilometres.


The origin of Yangtze River is located in on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It is flowing across southwest, central and eastern China and finally flowing into the East China Sea at Shanghai. The Yangtze drains one-fifth of the land area of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and its river basin is home to one-third of the PRC's population.


As the same with Yellow River, Yangtze River plays an important role in China's history, culture and economy of China. Yangtze River Delta is also the fast developing area in China which generates as much as 20% of China's GDP.


Yangtze River is also an important ecosystem and habitat of many endangerous and valuable animals such as the Chinese alligator and the Yangtze sturgeon. The Yangtze River is also an important river for water, irrigation, sanitation, transportation, industry, boundary-marking and war for thousands of years. There are many cities along the river. Major cities are including Panzhihua, Chongqing, Yibin, Yichang, Wuhan, Hefei, Tongling, Taizhou, Nanjing and Shanghai.


The Yangtze River (Cháng Jiāng or "long river") is the longest river in Asia, the third-longest in the world behind only the Amazon and Nile, and a major landmark with a rich history. The Yangtze flows for 6,418 kilometers (3,988 miles) from its origin in the glaciers of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to its final outflow into the East China Sea. The Yangtze ranks fourth against world rivers by discharge volume, passing an average of 35,000 cubic meters of water per second. Its drainage area, or source where surface waters collect in order to begin its flow, at 1.94 million square kilometers is ranked tenth, and forms roughly one fifth of the land area in China, and its basin is home to rougly one third of China's population. Over 700 tributaries flow into the Yangtze.


Two major dams contain the flow of the Yangtze, Three Gorges Dam and Gezhouba Dam, with others under construction. The Yangtze also features a collection of some of the longest bridges in the world. The first bridge to cross the Yangtze, the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge, was not completed until 1957. Significant challenges to constructing bridges over the Yangtze include the rivers great width; the Wuhan bridge, a double-decker road and railroad bridge, stretches over 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) in length.


As a major historic transport route, the Yangtze has played a vital and ongoing role in Chinese affairs, profoundly affecting China's economy and culture. The Yangtze River Delta (YRD), a roughly triangular region made up of southern Jiangsu Province, northern Zhejiang Province and Shanghai, covers an area of 99,600 square kilometers. The YRD as of 2010 housed an estimated 100 million people, with 80 million in urban centers, making it one of the most densely urban areas in the world, and one which is responsible for fully 20% of China's gross domestic product (GDP).


Human activitiy may have begun adjacent to the Yangtze as much as 27,000 years ago. As such, it has formed a part of Chinese cultural history throughout its entire existence. Starting with the Han Dynasty, the Yangtze increasingly became important to the Chinese economy. Irrigation and economic development including fishing and agriculture caused the Yangtze and surrounding areas to become the richest parts of China by the Song dynasty. As cities grew up and down the Yangtze, it increasingly became a water transportation backbone for entire regions. The Yangtze also became a political boundary between northern and southern China due to the physical difficulties in crossing the very wide river. Due to its boundary status, many battles occurred in and arond the Yangtze, the most famous of which, the Battle of Red Cliffs, occurred in 208 A.D. with significant losses among up to 850,000 reported combatants.

Much later, the 1840s saw the introduction of foreign vessels to the river, principally British gunships during the First Opium War. British ships at the time were nearly indestructible when matched against Chinese forces, and as a result the Treaty of Nanjing was signed in 1842, with a key term being the ceding of Hong Kong to the British crown. The U.S. and French brought further conflict in the 1860s, with U.S. ships venturing as much as 600 miles up the river. China developed its own fleat of steamships, and repeatedly came into conflict with hthe French. The Yangtze continued to play a key role in warfare until World War II, including the 1941 takeover of China by the Japanese, when the river was involved in such events as the Nanking Massacre.


The Yangtze also features a unique ecosystem. Four species of seriously threatened large animals inhabit the river. The baiji or Yangtze river dolphin has become so rare that reliable reports have not been made of seeing it in numbers since at least 2006, when an expedition tried but failed to find it. In 2007 one was reportedly videotaped, but the baiji remains so rare as to be "functionally extinct" due to hunting, deaths from boats and ships, loss of its habitat and pollution. However, other rare and unusal wildlife survive in larger numbers. The finless porpoise or river porpoise, a small freshwater cetacean with an unusual appearance similar to a tiny beluga whale or hornless narwhal in white, has a unique population found only in the Yangtze. The Chinese paddlefish or Chinese swordfish, sometimes called the "Giant Panda of the Rivers" for its protected status or "elephant fish" because of its unusually shaped snout, lives in the lower Yangtze, where this 2 meter (6 foot) fish preys on other fish as well as shellfish. And the Chinese alligator is native only to eastern China; though similar in some respects to the only other member of its genus, the American alligator, it only attains a size of up to about 1.5 meters (5 feet) and a weight of 80 pounds (36 kilograms).

In recent years China has undertaken massive projects to improve the ecology and water quality of the Yangtze, and to decrease flooding. Major efforts include reversing the process of cutting off over one hundred lakes from the river, which was originally done in attempts to control water flow. By reattaching these lakes to the Yangtze, Chinese engineers have increased biodiversity and water quality, as well as reducing flooding. China continues to spend the equivalent of billions of U.S. dollars in improving the Yangtze's water conditions, making it an even more pleasant travel destination.


As a major ecological system with such a rich history and wealth of urban attractions in the Yangtze River Delta as well as along its length, the Yangtze is a must-see for anyone taking a tour of China. Fengdu, a town often called the "Ghost City", is a place legendary since the Han Dynasty for punishment of evil and rewarding good. Fengjie / Baidi City, the "Poet City", is famous for events including a burning of seven hundred barracks. The Three Gorges of the Yangtze are a popular destination, including the scenic Qutang Gorge, famous for its sheer cliffs and beautiful rock formations. The Wu Gorge is one of the more beautiful sections as well, with cloud-wrapped cliffs and greenery covering its slopes. The Xiling Gorge and many other attractions, as well as the many urban centers and villages, give the interested tourist much to explore as well. One could spend a lifetime exploring the rich history and culture of the Yangtze, key in many ways to China's past and its future.


comments powered by Disqus