Yangtze River
Overview
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng (icon or ˈ; ya) is the longest river
River
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

 in Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for 6418 kilometres (3,988 mi) from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

 in Qinghai eastward across southwest
Southwest China
Southwest China is a region of the People's Republic of China defined by governmental bureaus that includes the municipality of Chongqing, the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou, and the Tibet Autonomous Region.-Provinces:-Municipalities:...

, central
South Central China
South Central China is a region of the People's Republic of China defined by governmental bureaus that includes the provinces of Guangdong, Hainan, Henan, Hubei, and Hunan, and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, however excluding the 2 special administrative regions : Hong Kong and...

 and eastern
East China
East China is a geographical and a loosely-defined cultural region that covers the eastern coastal area of China.Although an intangible and loosely defined concept, for administrative and governmental purposes, the region is defined by the government of the People's Republic of China to include...

 China before emptying into the East China Sea
East China Sea
The East China Sea is a marginal sea east of China. It is a part of the Pacific Ocean and covers an area of 1,249,000 km² or 750,000 square miles.-Geography:...

 at Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

. It is also one of the biggest rivers by discharge volume in the world.
Encyclopedia
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng (icon or ˈ; ya) is the longest river
River
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

 in Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for 6418 kilometres (3,988 mi) from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

 in Qinghai eastward across southwest
Southwest China
Southwest China is a region of the People's Republic of China defined by governmental bureaus that includes the municipality of Chongqing, the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou, and the Tibet Autonomous Region.-Provinces:-Municipalities:...

, central
South Central China
South Central China is a region of the People's Republic of China defined by governmental bureaus that includes the provinces of Guangdong, Hainan, Henan, Hubei, and Hunan, and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, however excluding the 2 special administrative regions : Hong Kong and...

 and eastern
East China
East China is a geographical and a loosely-defined cultural region that covers the eastern coastal area of China.Although an intangible and loosely defined concept, for administrative and governmental purposes, the region is defined by the government of the People's Republic of China to include...

 China before emptying into the East China Sea
East China Sea
The East China Sea is a marginal sea east of China. It is a part of the Pacific Ocean and covers an area of 1,249,000 km² or 750,000 square miles.-Geography:...

 at Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

. It is also one of the biggest rivers by discharge volume in the world. The Yangtze drains one-fifth of China's land area and its river basin is home to one-third of China's population.

Along with the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

, the Yangtze is the most important river in the history
History of China
Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the Cradle of Chinese Civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest...

, culture
Culture of China
Chinese culture is one of the world's oldest and most complex. The area in which the culture is dominant covers a large geographical region in eastern Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly between towns, cities and provinces...

 and economy
Economy of the People's Republic of China
The People's Republic of China ranks since 2010 as the world's second largest economy after the United States. It has been the world's fastest-growing major economy, with consistent growth rates of around 10% over the past 30 years. China is also the largest exporter and second largest importer of...

 of China. The prosperous Yangtze River Delta
Yangtze River Delta
The Yangtze River Delta, Yangtze Delta or YRD, also called Yangzi, or Chang Jiang Delta, Rive Chang Delta Tai Lake Region or the Golden Triangle of the Yangtze, generally comprises the triangular-shaped territory of Wu-speaking Shanghai, southern Jiangsu province and northern Zhejiang province of...

 generates as much as 20% of China's GDP
Historical GDP of the People's Republic of China
This article includes a list of China's historical gross domestic product values, the market value of all final goods and services produced by a nation in a given year. The GDP dollar estimates presented here are calculated at market or government official exchange rates and derived from...

. The river is an important physical and cultural dividing line between North and South China
Northern and southern China
Northern China and southern China are two approximate regions within China. The exact boundary between these two regions has never been precisely defined...

. The Yangtze River flows through a wide array of ecosystems and is itself habitat to several endemic and endangered species including the Chinese alligator
Chinese Alligator
The Chinese alligator or Alligator Alligator sinensis) is one of two known living species of Alligator, a genus in the family Alligatoridae. The Chinese alligator is native only to China...

 and the Yangtze sturgeon. For thousands of years, man has used the river for water, irrigation, sanitation, transportation, industry, boundary-marking and war. The Three Gorges Dam
Three Gorges Dam
The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam that spans the Yangtze River by the town of Sandouping, located in the Yiling District of Yichang, in Hubei province, China...

 on the Yangtze River is the largest hydro-electric power station in the world.

In recent years, the river has suffered from industrial pollution, agricultural run-off, siltation
Siltation
Siltation is the pollution of water by fine particulate terrestrial clastic material, with a particle size dominated by silt or clay. It refers both to the increased concentration of suspended sediments, and to the increased accumulation of fine sediments on bottoms where they are undesirable...

, and loss of wetland and lakes, which exacerbates seasonal flooding. Some sections of the river are now protected as nature reserves. A stretch of the Yangtze flowing through deep gorges in western Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 is part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas
Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas
The Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Yunnan province, China.It lies within the drainage basins of the upper reaches of the Yangtze , Mekong and Salween rivers, in the Yunnanese section of the Hengduan Mountains.-Overview:-Geography:The protected...

, a UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

.

Names

Yangtze River, also spelled Yangtse River, Yangzi River and Yangtze Kiang, is derived from Yangzi Jiang , the local name for a stretch of the lower Yangtze near Yangzhou
Yangzhou
Yangzhou is a prefecture-level city in central Jiangsu Province, People's Republic of China. Sitting on the northern bank of the Yangtze River, it borders the provincial capital of Nanjing to the southwest, Huai'an to the north, Yancheng to the northeast, Taizhou to the east, and Zhenjiang across...

. “Yangzi” was the name of a village and site of an ancient ferry crossing, and Jiang is one of the Chinese words for river. In the 13th century, the famous Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

 official, Wen Tianxiang
Wen Tianxiang
Wen Tianxiang , Duke of Xinguo, was a scholar-general in the last years of the Southern Song Dynasty. For his resistance to Kublai Khan's invasion of the Song, and for his refusal to yield to the Yuan Dynasty despite being captured and tortured, he is a popular symbol of patriotism and...

 penned a poem entitled Yangzi Jiang. Later, Western missionaries heard the name and applied it to the entire river.

Chinese names

During pre-Imperial times, the Chinese name for the river was simply Jiang (江, Old Chinese *kroong), possibly a loan word from Austro-Asiatic languages. By the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

, the term Jiang was already applied to other large waterways. The modern term Chang Jiang (长/長江), with Chang (长/長, "long") as the modifier has been in use since the Six Dynasties
Six Dynasties
Six Dynasties is a collective noun for six Chinese dynasties during the periods of the Three Kingdoms , Jin Dynasty , and Southern and Northern Dynasties ....

 period.

The Chinese also use distinct names for different stretches of the river.
  • Stretches of Chang Jiang have local names such as the Chuan Jiang
    Sichuan River
    The Sichuan River or Chuan Jiang , is the upper portion of Yangtze River from Yibin to Yichang. It is named because the river flows through Sichuan & Chongqing, which was part of Sichuan, in this stretch. The total length of Sichuan River is 1,040km. Major cities along Sichuan River include Yibin,...

     (川江, for the Sichuan
    Sichuan
    ' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

     portion of the river from Yibin to Yichang
    Yichang
    Yichang is a prefecture-level city located in Hubei province of the People's Republic of China. It is the second largest city in Hubei province after the province capital, Wuhan. The Three Gorges Dam is located within its administrative area, in Yiling District.-History:In ancient times Yichang...

    ), Jingjiang (荆江, for the Jingzhou
    Jingzhou
    Jingzhou is a prefecture-level city in Hubei Province, People's Republic of China. The city is located on the banks of the Yangtze River.Its population is 5,691,707 at the 2010 census whom 1,154,086 in the built up area made of 3 urban districts.-Geography:Jingzhou occupies an area of...

     section of the river) and Yangzi Jiang (near Yangzhou). The entire Chang Jiang is navigable and also known as the Golden Waterway.
  • Jinsha River
    Jinsha River
    Jinsha River is the westernmost of the major headwater streams of the Yangtze River, southwestern China.Its headwaters rise in the Wulan and Kekexili ranges in western Qinghai province, to the south of the Kunlun Mountains, and on the northern slope of the Tanggula Mountains on the border of the...

    or Gold Sands River (金沙江 Jīnshā Jiāng, lit. "Golden Sands River") refers to 2,308 km of the Yangtze upstream from Yibin
    Yibin
    -Administrative divisions:-Economy:The city's industry focuses on electronics, food products, and power generation. It also produces paper, silk, and leather products...

     to the confluence with the Batang River, near Yushu.
  • Tongtian River
    Tongtian River
    The Tongtian River is a section of the Yangtze River within China's Qinghai Province. . It is one of the...

    (通天河, lit. "river passing through heaven") refers to the 813 km stretch of the Yangtze from Yushu upstream to the confluence of the Tuotuo River and Dangqu, which together forms the Tongtian.
  • Tuotuo River (沱沱河) refers to one of the headwater streams of the Yangtze. It arises from glaciers south of the Geladandong
    Geladandong
    Geladaindong Peak is a snow-covered mountain located in southwestern Qinghai province of China near the border of Tibet. It is the tallest mountain in the Tanggula Mountain Range of the Tibetan Plateau with an elevation of above sea level...

     Mountain in Qinghai
    Qinghai
    Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

     and flows west for 343 km where it meets with the Dangqu and forms the Tongtian.

Tibetan names

The source and upper reaches of the Yangtze are located in ethnic Tibetan areas of Qinghai. In Tibetan, the headwater streams of the Tuotuo are called Naqinqu. The Tuotuo River is known in Tibetan as Maqu (Red River). Tuotuo is derived from the Mongolian
Mongolian language
The Mongolian language is the official language of Mongolia and the best-known member of the Mongolic language family. The number of speakers across all its dialects may be 5.2 million, including the vast majority of the residents of Mongolia and many of the Mongolian residents of the Inner...

 name for the river, Tuoketuonaiwulanmulun (托克托乃乌兰木伦, or the frothy red river). The Tongtian is known in Tibetan as the Drichu . Dangqu (当曲) another leading headwater stream of the Yangtze is Tibetan
Tibetan language
The Tibetan languages are a cluster of mutually-unintelligible Tibeto-Burman languages spoken primarily by Tibetan peoples who live across a wide area of eastern Central Asia bordering the Indian subcontinent, including the Tibetan Plateau and the northern Indian subcontinent in Baltistan, Ladakh,...

 for "marsh river".

Geography

The river originates from several tributaries, two of which have claims to be the source. The Chinese government has recognized the source of the Tuotuo tributary at the base of a glacier lying on the west of Geladandong
Geladandong
Geladaindong Peak is a snow-covered mountain located in southwestern Qinghai province of China near the border of Tibet. It is the tallest mountain in the Tanggula Mountain Range of the Tibetan Plateau with an elevation of above sea level...

 Mountain in the Dangla Mountain Range
Tanggula Mountains
Tanggula Mountains Shanmai) are a mountain range in the central part of the Tibetan Plateau. Administratvely, the western part of the range is in Nagqu Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region; the highest, central part, in the border area of Nagqu Prefecture and Tanggula Town of the Qinghai...

 on the eastern part of the Tibetan plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

. However, the geographical source (i.e., longest river distance from the sea) lies in wetlands at N32˚36’14” E94˚30’44 and 5170 meters above sea level at the head of the Dan Qu tributary []. These tributaries join and the river then runs eastward through Qinghai
Qinghai
Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

, turning southward down a deep valley at the border of Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

 and Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 to reach Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

. In the course of this valley, the river's elevation drops from above 5000 m to less than 1000 m. The headwaters of the Yangtze are situated at an elevation of about 4900 m (16,076.1 ft). In its descent to sea level, the river falls to an altitude of 305 m (1,000.7 ft) at Yibin, Sichuan Province, the head of navigation for riverboats, and to 192 m (629.9 ft) at Chongqing. Between Chongqing and Yichang (I-ch'ang), at an altitude of 40 m (131.2 ft) and a distance of about 320 km (198.8 mi), it passes through the spectacular Yangtze Gorges, which are noted for their natural beauty but are dangerous to shipping.

It enters the basin of Sichuan at Yibin
Yibin
-Administrative divisions:-Economy:The city's industry focuses on electronics, food products, and power generation. It also produces paper, silk, and leather products...

. While in the Sichuan basin, it receives several mighty tributaries, increasing its water volume significantly. It then cuts through Mount Wushan bordering Chongqing
Chongqing
Chongqing is a major city in Southwest China and one of the five national central cities of China. Administratively, it is one of the PRC's four direct-controlled municipalities , and the only such municipality in inland China.The municipality was created on 14 March 1997, succeeding the...

 and Hubei
Hubei
' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

 to create the famous Three Gorges. Eastward of the Three Gorges, Yichang
Yichang
Yichang is a prefecture-level city located in Hubei province of the People's Republic of China. It is the second largest city in Hubei province after the province capital, Wuhan. The Three Gorges Dam is located within its administrative area, in Yiling District.-History:In ancient times Yichang...

 is the first city on the Yangtze Plain.

After entering Hubei
Hubei
' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

, the Yangtze receives more water from thousands of lakes. The largest of these lakes is Dongting Lake
Dongting Lake
Dongting Lake, or Lake Dongting is a large, shallow lake in northeastern Hunan province, China. It is a flood basin of the Yangtze River . Hence the lake's size depends on the season...

, which is located on the border of Hunan
Hunan
' is a province of South-Central China, located to the south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and south of Lake Dongting...

 and Hubei provinces, and is the outlet for most of the rivers in Hunan. At Wuhan
Wuhan
Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province, People's Republic of China, and is the most populous city in Central China. It lies at the east of the Jianghan Plain, and the intersection of the middle reaches of the Yangtze and Han rivers...

, it receives its biggest tributary, the Han River
Han River (Hanshui)
The Han River is a left tributary of the Yangtze River with a length of 1532 km. Historically it was referred to as Hànshuǐ and the name is still occasionally used today....

, bringing water from its northern basin as far as Shaanxi
Shaanxi
' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

.

At the northern tip of Jiangxi, Lake Poyang
Lake Poyang
Poyang Lake , located in Jiangxi Province is the largest freshwater lake in China.It has a surface area of 3,585 km², a volume of 25 km³ and an average depth of eight meters. The lake provides a habitat for half a million migratory birds, and is a favorite destination for birding...

, the biggest freshwater lake in China, merges into the river. The river then runs through Anhui
Anhui
Anhui is a province in the People's Republic of China. Located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huai River, it borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny...

 and Jiangsu
Jiangsu
' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located along the east coast of the country. The name comes from jiang, short for the city of Jiangning , and su, for the city of Suzhou. The abbreviation for this province is "苏" , the second character of its name...

 provinces, receiving more water from innumerable smaller lakes and rivers, and finally reaches the East China Sea at Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

.
Four of China's five main freshwater lakes contribute their waters to the Yangtze River. Traditionally, the upstream part of the Yangtze River refers to the section from Yibin to Yichang; the middle part refers to the section from Yichang to Hukou County, where Lake Poyang
Lake Poyang
Poyang Lake , located in Jiangxi Province is the largest freshwater lake in China.It has a surface area of 3,585 km², a volume of 25 km³ and an average depth of eight meters. The lake provides a habitat for half a million migratory birds, and is a favorite destination for birding...

 meets the river; the downstream part is from Hukou to Shanghai. It is home to many thousands of people.

The origin of the Yangtze River is dated to about 45 million years ago in the Eocene
Eocene
The Eocene Epoch, lasting from about 56 to 34 million years ago , is a major division of the geologic timescale and the second epoch of the Paleogene Period in the Cenozoic Era. The Eocene spans the time from the end of the Palaeocene Epoch to the beginning of the Oligocene Epoch. The start of the...

, but many people do not accept this point.

Characteristics

The Yangtze flows into the East China Sea
East China Sea
The East China Sea is a marginal sea east of China. It is a part of the Pacific Ocean and covers an area of 1,249,000 km² or 750,000 square miles.-Geography:...

 and was navigable by ocean-going vessels up a thousand miles from its mouth even before the Three Gorges Dam was built. As of June 2003, this dam spans the river, flooding Fengjie
Fengjie
Fengjie County is a county of Chongqing Municipality in China. It is on the Yangtze River; located within a couple hundreds kilometers upstream from the Three Gorges Dam, it is within the dam's affected area....

, the first of a number of towns affected by the massive flood control and power generation project. This is the largest comprehensive irrigation
Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

 project in the world and has a significant impact on China's agriculture
Agriculture in China
Agriculture is an important economic sector of China, employing over 300 million farmers. China ranks first in worldwide farm output, primarily producing rice, wheat, potatoes, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, cotton, oilseed, pork, and fish.-History:...

. Its proponents argue that it will free people living along the river from floods that have repeatedly threatened them in the past and will offer them electricity
Electricity
Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

 and water transport—though at the expense of permanently flooding many existing towns (including numerous ancient cultural relics) and causing large-scale changes in the local ecology
Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

.

Opponents of the dam point out that there are three different kinds of floods on the Yangtze River: floods which originate in the upper reaches, floods which originate in the lower reaches, and floods along the entire length of the river. They argue that the Three Gorges dam will actually make flooding in the upper reaches worse and have little or no impact on floods which originate in the lower reaches. Twelve hundred years of low water marks on the river were recorded in the inscriptions and the carvings of carp at Baiheliang
Baiheliang
Baiheliang is a rock outcropping in Fuling District, Chongqing, People's Republic of China, that parallels the flow of the Yangtze. In the past it served as an ancient device for measuring water levels of the Yangtze in China, the equivalent of a hydrometric station...

, now submerged.

The Yangtze is flanked with metallurgical, power, chemical, auto, building materials and machinery industrial belts and high-tech development zones. It is playing an increasingly crucial role in the river valley's economic growth and has become a vital link for international shipping to the inland provinces. The river is a major transportation artery for China, connecting the interior with the coast.

The river is one of the world's busiest waterways. Traffic includes commercial traffic transporting bulk goods such as coal as well as manufactured goods and passengers. Cargo transportation reached 795 million tons in 2005. River cruises several days long, especially through the beautiful and scenic Three Gorges area, are becoming popular as the tourism industry grows in China.

Flooding along the river has been a major problem. The rainy season in China is May and June in areas south of Yangtze River, and July and August in areas north of it. The huge river system receives water from both southern and northern flanks, which causes its flood season to extend from May to August. Meanwhile, the relatively dense population and rich cities along the river make the floods more deadly and costly. The most recent major floods were the 1998 Yangtze River Floods
1998 Yangtze River Floods
The 1998 Yangtze River floods was a major flood that lasted from middle of June to the beginning of September 1998 in the People's Republic of China at the Yangtze River.-Tolls:The event was considered the worst Northern China flood in 40 years...

, but more disastrous were the 1954 Yangtze River Floods
1954 Yangtze River Floods
From June to September of 1954, the Yangtze River Floods were a series of catastrophic floodings that occurred mostly in Hubei Province. Due to unusually high volume of precipitation as well as an extraordinarily long rainy season in the middle stretch of the Yangtze River late in the spring of...

, killing around 30,000 people. Other severe floods included those of 1911, which killed around 100,000, 1931 (145,000 dead), and 1935 (142,000 dead).

The Yangtze is very polluted, especially in Hubei
Hubei
' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

 (Shashi District
Shashi District
Shashi District is a district within the main urban area of the Jingzhou Prefecture-level City, Hubei Province, China. It is located on the left bank of the Yangtze River, between Yichang and Wuhan...

).

History

The Yangtze River is important to the cultural origins of southern China. Human activity was found in the Three Gorges area as far back as 27 thousand years ago. In the Spring and Autumn Period, Ba
Ba (state)
Ba was an ancient state in eastern Sichuan, China. Its original capital was Yicheng , Hubei. Ba was conquered by Qin in 316 BC. The modern ethnic minority Tujia people trace some of their origins back to the Ba people....

 and Shu
Shu (state)
The State of Shu was an ancient state in what is now Sichuan, China. It was conquered by Qin in 316 BC. Shu was based on the Chengdu Plain, in the western Sichuan basin with some extension northeast to the upper Han River valley. To the east was the Ba tribal confederation. Further east down the...

 were located along the western part of the river, covering modern Sichuan, Chongqing and western Hubei; Chu
Chu (state)
The State of Chu was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state in present-day central and southern China during the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States Period . Its ruling house had the surname Nai , and clan name Yan , later evolved to surname Mi , and clan name Xiong...

 was located along the central part of river, corresponding to Hubei
Hubei
' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

, Hunan
Hunan
' is a province of South-Central China, located to the south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and south of Lake Dongting...

, Jiangxi
Jiangxi
' is a southern province in the People's Republic of China. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to...

 and southern Anhui
Anhui
Anhui is a province in the People's Republic of China. Located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huai River, it borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny...

. Wu
Wu (state)
The State of Wu , also known as Gou Wu or Gong Wu , was one of the vassal states during the Western Zhou Dynasty and the Spring and Autumn Period. The State of Wu was located at the mouth of the Yangtze River east of the State of Chu. Considered a semi-barbarian state by ancient Chinese...

 and Yue
Yue (state)
Yue was a state in China which existed during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period , in the modern province of Zhejiang. During the Spring and Autumn Period, its capital was in Guiji , near the modern city of Shaoxing...

 were located along the eastern part of the river, now Jiangsu
Jiangsu
' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located along the east coast of the country. The name comes from jiang, short for the city of Jiangning , and su, for the city of Suzhou. The abbreviation for this province is "苏" , the second character of its name...

, Zhejiang
Zhejiang
Zhejiang is an eastern coastal province of the People's Republic of China. The word Zhejiang was the old name of the Qiantang River, which passes through Hangzhou, the provincial capital...

 and Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

. Although the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

 region was richer and more developed at that time, the milder climate and more peaceful environment made the Yangtze River area more suitable for agriculture.

From the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

, the region of the Yangtze River became more and more important to China's economy. The establishment of irrigation systems (the most famous one is Dujiangyan
Dujiangyan Irrigation System
Dujiangyan is an irrigation infrastructure built in 256 BC during the Warring States Period of China by the Kingdom of Qin. It is located in the Min River in Sichuan province, China, near the capital Chengdu. It is still in use today to irrigate over 5,300 square kilometers of land in the region...

, northwest of Chengdu, built during the Warring States period) made agriculture very stable and productive. By the Song dynasty, the area along the Yangtze had become among the wealthiest and most developed parts of the country, especially in the lower reaches of the river. Early in the Qing dynasty, the region called Jiangnan
Jiangnan
Jiangnan or Jiang Nan is a geographic area in China referring to lands immediately to the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, including the southern part of the Yangtze Delta...

 (that includes the southern part of Jiangsu
Jiangsu
' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located along the east coast of the country. The name comes from jiang, short for the city of Jiangning , and su, for the city of Suzhou. The abbreviation for this province is "苏" , the second character of its name...

, the northern part of Zhejiang
Zhejiang
Zhejiang is an eastern coastal province of the People's Republic of China. The word Zhejiang was the old name of the Qiantang River, which passes through Hangzhou, the provincial capital...

, and the southeastern part of Anhui
Anhui
Anhui is a province in the People's Republic of China. Located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huai River, it borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny...

) provided 1/3-1/2 of the nation's revenues.

The Yangtze has long been the backbone of China's inland water transportation system, which remained particularly important for almost two thousand years, until the construction of the national railway network during the 20th century. The Grand Canal connects the lower Yangtze with the major cities of the Jiangnan
Jiangnan
Jiangnan or Jiang Nan is a geographic area in China referring to lands immediately to the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, including the southern part of the Yangtze Delta...

 region south of the river (Wuxi
Wuxi
Wuxi is an old city in Jiangsu province, People's Republic of China. Split in half by Lake Tai, Wuxi borders Changzhou to the west and Suzhou to the east. The northern half looks across to Taizhou across the Yangtze River, while the southern half also borders the province of Zhejiang to the south...

, Suzhou
Suzhou
Suzhou , previously transliterated as Su-chou, Suchow, and Soochow, is a major city located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China, located adjacent to Shanghai Municipality. The city is situated on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Taihu Lake and is a part...

, Hangzhou
Hangzhou
Hangzhou , formerly transliterated as Hangchow, is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. Governed as a sub-provincial city, and as of 2010, its entire administrative division or prefecture had a registered population of 8.7 million people...

) and with northern China (all the way to Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

). The less well known ancient Lingqu Canal
Lingqu Canal
The Lingqu Canal is located in Xing'an County, near Guilin, in the northeastern corner of Guangxi Province, China. It connects the Xiang River with the Lijiang , which in its turn continues toward the Xijiang), and thus is part of a historical waterway between the Yangtze and the Pearl River...

, connecting the upper Xiang River
Xiang River
The Xiang River , in older transliterations as the Siang River or Hsiang River, is a river in southern China...

 with the headwaters of the Guijiang, allowed a direct water connection from the Yangtze Basin to the Pearl River Delta
Pearl River Delta
The Pearl River Delta , Zhujiang Delta or Zhusanjiao in Guangdong province, People's Republic of China is the low-lying area surrounding the Pearl River estuary where the Pearl River flows into the South China Sea...

.

Historically, the Yangtze became the political boundary between north China and south China several times (see History of China
History of China
Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the Cradle of Chinese Civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest...

) because of the difficulty of crossing the river. This occurred notably during the Southern and Northern Dynasties
Southern and Northern Dynasties
The Southern and Northern Dynasties was a period in the history of China that lasted from 420 to 589 AD. Though an age of civil war and political chaos, it was also a time of flourishing arts and culture, advancement in technology, and the spreading of Mahayana Buddhism and Daoism...

, and the Southern Song. Many battles took place along the river, the most famous being the Battle of Red Cliffs
Battle of Red Cliffs
The Battle of Red Cliffs, otherwise known as the Battle of Chibi, was a decisive battle at the end of the Han Dynasty, immediately prior to the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. It was fought in the winter of 208/9 AD between the allied forces of the southern warlords Liu Bei and Sun Quan...

 in 208 AD during the Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms
The Three Kingdoms period was a period in Chinese history, part of an era of disunity called the "Six Dynasties" following immediately the loss of de facto power of the Han Dynasty rulers. In a strict academic sense it refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 and the...

 period.

Politically, Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

 was the capital of China several times, although most of the time its territory only covered the southeastern part of China, such as the Wu kingdom in the Three Kingdoms period, the Eastern Jin Dynasty, and during the Southern and Northern Dynasties
Southern and Northern Dynasties
The Southern and Northern Dynasties was a period in the history of China that lasted from 420 to 589 AD. Though an age of civil war and political chaos, it was also a time of flourishing arts and culture, advancement in technology, and the spreading of Mahayana Buddhism and Daoism...

 and Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms periods. Only the Ming
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 occupied most parts of China from their capital at Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

, though it later moved the capital to Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

. The ROC
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 capital was located in Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

 in the periods 1911-12, 1927–37, and 1945-49.

Early history

The first merchant steamer in China, the Jardine, was built to order for the firm of Jardine Matheson
Jardine Matheson Holdings
Jardine Matheson Holdings Limited often referred to as Jardines, is a multinational corporation incorporated in Bermuda and based in Hong Kong. While listed on the London Stock Exchange and the Singapore Exchange, the vast majority of Jardines shares are traded in Singapore...

 in 1835. She was a small vessel intended for use as a mail and passenger carrier between Lintin Island, Macao
Mação
Mação is a municipality in Portugal with a total area of 400.0 km² and a total population of 7,763 inhabitants.The municipality is composed of eight parishes, and is located in the Santarém District....

 and Whampoa. However, after several trips, the Chinese authorities, for reasons best known to themselves, prohibited her entrance into the river. Lord Palmerston, the British Foreign Secretary who personified gunboat diplomacy
Gunboat diplomacy
In international politics, gunboat diplomacy refers to the pursuit of foreign policy objectives with the aid of conspicuous displays of military power — implying or constituting a direct threat of warfare, should terms not be agreeable to the superior force....

, decided to wage war on China mainly on the "suggestions" of Jardine Matheson. In mid-1840, a large fleet of warships appeared on the China coast, and with the first cannon fire aimed at a British ship, the Royal Saxon, the British started the First Opium War
First Opium War
The First Anglo-Chinese War , known popularly as the First Opium War or simply the Opium War, was fought between the United Kingdom and the Qing Dynasty of China over their conflicting viewpoints on diplomatic relations, trade, and the administration of justice...

. British warships destroyed numerous shore batteries and Chinese warships, laid waste to several coastal forts, indiscriminately bombarding town after town with heavy cannon fire, even pushing up north to threaten the Imperial Palace
Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum...

 in Beijing itself. The Imperial Government, forced to surrender, gave in to the demands of the British. British military superiority was clearly evident during the armed conflict. British warships, constructed using such innovations as steam power combined with sail and the use of iron in shipbuilding, wreaked havoc on coastal towns; such ships (like the Nemesis) were not only virtually indestructible but also highly mobile and able to support a gun platform with very heavy guns. In addition, the British troops were armed with modern muskets and cannons, unlike the Qing forces. After the British took Canton
Guangzhou
Guangzhou , known historically as Canton or Kwangchow, is the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province in the People's Republic of China. Located in southern China on the Pearl River, about north-northwest of Hong Kong, Guangzhou is a key national transportation hub and trading port...

, they sailed up the Yangtze and took the tax barges, a devastating blow to the Empire as it slashed the revenue of the imperial court in Beijing to just a small fraction of what it had been.

In 1842, the Qing authorities sued for peace, which concluded with the Treaty of Nanjing signed on a gunboat in the river, negotiated in August of that year and ratified in 1843. In the treaty, China was forced to pay an indemnity to Britain, open five ports to Britain, and cede Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 to Queen Victoria. In the supplementary Treaty of the Bogue, the Qing empire also recognised Britain as an equal to China and gave British subjects extraterritorial privileges in treaty ports.

U.S. and French conflicts

The US, at the same time, wanting to protect its interests and expand trade, ventured the USS Wachusett six-hundred miles up the river to Hankow in about 1860, while the USS Ashuelot
USS Ashuelot (1865)
USS Ashuelot was an iron-hulled, double-ended, side-wheel gunboat in the United States Navy. She was named for a river in New Hampshire.The contract for the construction of Ashuelot was awarded in June or July 1863 to Donald McKay. Her keel was laid down at his shipyard in East Boston,...

, a sidewheeler, made her way up the river to Ichang in 1874. The first USS Monocacy
USS Monocacy (1864)
-External links:*...

, a sidewheel gunboat, began charting the Yangtze River in 1871. The first USS Palos
USS Palos (1865)
The first USS Palos was a 4th rate iron screw tug in the United States Navy during the late 19th century. She was named for Palos de la Frontera in Spain....

, an armed tug, was on Asiatic Station
Asiatic Squadron
The Asiatic Squadron was a squadron of United States Navy warships stationed in East Asia during the latter half of the 19th century, it was created in 1868 when the East India Squadron was disbanded...

 into 1891, cruising the Chinese and Japanese coasts, visiting the open treaty ports and making occasional voyages up the Yangtze River. From June to September 1891, anti-foreign riots up the Yangtze forced the warship to make an extended voyage as far as Hankow, 600 miles upriver. Stopping at each open treaty port, the gunboat cooperated with naval vessels of other nations and repairing damage. She then operated along the north and central China coast and on the lower Yangtze until June 1892. The cessation of bloodshed with the Taiping Rebellion
Taiping Rebellion
The Taiping Rebellion was a widespread civil war in southern China from 1850 to 1864, led by heterodox Christian convert Hong Xiuquan, who, having received visions, maintained that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ, against the ruling Manchu-led Qing Dynasty...

, Europeans put more steamers on the river. The French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, not to sit idle and get rice crumbs, engaged the Chinese in war over the rule of Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

. The Sino-French War
Sino-French War
The Sino–French War was a limited conflict fought between August 1884 and April 1885 to decide whether France should replace China in control of Tonkin . As the French achieved their war aims, they are usually considered to have won the war...

s of the 1880s emerged with the Battle of Shipu
Battle of Shipu
The Battle of Shipu was a French naval victory during the Sino-French War . The battle took place on the night of 14 February 1885 in Shipu Bay , near Ningbo, China.- Background :...

 having French cruisers in the lower Yangtze.
The China Navigation Company
The China Navigation Co.
The China Navigation Company Limited is a merchant shipping company based in Hong Kong in China. It was founded by John Swire to offer paddle-steamer services on the Yangtze...

 was an early shipping company founded in 1876 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, initially to trade up the Yangtze River from their Shanghai base with passengers and cargo. Chinese coastal trade started shortly after and in 1883 a regular service to Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 was initiated. Most of the company's ships were seized by Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 in 1941 and services did not resume until 1946. Robert Dollar
Robert Dollar
Captain Robert Dollar was born in Falkirk, Scotland. The title "Captain" was honorary and he was called the “Grand Old Man of the Pacific". Both were bestowed after his entry into the shipping industry. Dollar became a lumber baron, shipping magnate, philanthropist; he was also a Freemason...

 was a later shipping magnate, who became enormously influential moving Californian and Canadian lumber to the Chinese and Japanese market.

Yichang or Ichang, 1600 km (994.2 mi) from the sea, is the head of navigation for river steamers; oceangoing vessels may navigate the river to Hankow, a distance of almost 1000 km (almost 600 mi) from the sea. For about 320 km (198.8 mi) inland from its mouth, the river is virtually at sea level.

The Chinese Government, too, had steamers. It had its own naval fleet, the Nanyang Fleet
Nanyang Fleet
The Nanyang Fleet was one of the four modernised Chinese navies in the late Qing Dynasty. Established in the 1870s, the fleet suffered losses in the Sino-French War, escaped intact in the Sino-Japanese War, and was formally abolished in 1909....

, which fell prey to the French fleet. The Chinese would rebuild its fleet,
only to be ravaged by another war with Japan (1895)
First Sino-Japanese War
The First Sino-Japanese War was fought between Qing Dynasty China and Meiji Japan, primarily over control of Korea...

, Revolution (1911)
Xinhai Revolution
The Xinhai Revolution or Hsinhai Revolution, also known as Revolution of 1911 or the Chinese Revolution, was a revolution that overthrew China's last imperial dynasty, the Qing , and established the Republic of China...

 and ongoing inefficiency and corruption. Chinese companies ran their own steamers, but were second tier to European operations at the time.

Navigation on the upper river

Steamers came late to the upper river. The three gorges and the strong current hindered plans. Achibald Little attempted a voyage with the Lee-Chuan, and the Kuling, delays and weak engines
meant that he only succeeded in the first vessel in 1898. Little soon built the first truly successful boat, the Pioneer, about 1899 — she plied the river for two more decades and was even the flagship for the British Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 on the China Station
China Station
The China Station was a historical formation of the British Royal Navy. It was formally the units and establishments responsible to the Commander-in-Chief, China....

. There were a few commercial steamers on the upper river by the turn of the century and the Boxer Rebellion
Boxer Rebellion
The Boxer Rebellion, also called the Boxer Uprising by some historians or the Righteous Harmony Society Movement in northern China, was a proto-nationalist movement by the "Righteous Harmony Society" , or "Righteous Fists of Harmony" or "Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists" , in China between...

. The commercial firms of Jardine Matheson, Butterfield and Swire and Standard Oil
Standard Oil
Standard Oil was a predominant American integrated oil producing, transporting, refining, and marketing company. Established in 1870 as a corporation in Ohio, it was the largest oil refiner in the world and operated as a major company trust and was one of the world's first and largest multinational...

 had their own steamers on the river. Until 1881, the India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and China coastal and river services were operated by several companies. In that year, however, these were merged into the Indo-China Steam Navigation Company Ltd, a public company under the management of Jardine's. The Jardine company pushed inland up the Yangtsze River on which a specially designed fleet was built to meet all requirements of the river trade. For many years, this fleet gave unequalled service.
Jardine's established an enviable reputation for the efficient handling of shipping. As a result, the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company
Royal Mail Steam Packet Company
The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company was a British shipping company founded in London in 1839 by Scot James Macqueen. After good and bad times it became the largest shipping group in the world in 1927 when it took over the White Star Line....

 invited the firm to attend to the Agency of their Shire Line which operated in the Far East
Far East
The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

. Standard Oil ran the tankers Mei Ping, Mei An and Mei Hsia, which were all destroyed on December 12, 1937 when Japanese warplanes bombed and sank the U.S.S. Panay. One of the Standard Oil captains who survived this attack had served on the Upper River for 14 years.

Navy ships

With the Treaty Ports, the European powers and Japan were allowed to float navy ships into China's internal waters. The British, US and French did this. A full international fleet featured on Chinese
waters: Austro-Hungarian
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

, Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n and German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 navy ships came to Shanghai and the treaty ports. The Japanese engaged in open war with the Chinese twice, and Russians twice, over conquest of the Chinese Qing empire — in the First
First Sino-Japanese War
The First Sino-Japanese War was fought between Qing Dynasty China and Meiji Japan, primarily over control of Korea...

 and Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

 1895, and 1905; and the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

 of 1904. Incidentally, both the French
French Navy
The French Navy, officially the Marine nationale and often called La Royale is the maritime arm of the French military. It includes a full range of fighting vessels, from patrol boats to a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and 10 nuclear-powered submarines, four of which are capable of launching...

 and Japanese
Japanese Navy
Japanese Navy can refer to:* the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1947* the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, 1947 – present...

 navies were heavily involved in running opium
Opium
Opium is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy . Opium contains up to 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine...

 and narcotics to Shanghai, where it was refined into morphine
Morphine
Morphine is a potent opiate analgesic medication and is considered to be the prototypical opioid. It was first isolated in 1804 by Friedrich Sertürner, first distributed by same in 1817, and first commercially sold by Merck in 1827, which at the time was a single small chemists' shop. It was more...

. It was then transhipped by liner back to Marseille
Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

 and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 (i.e. French Connection
French Connection
The French Connection was a scheme through which heroin was smuggled from Turkey to France and then to the United States. The operation reached its peak in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when it provided the vast majority of the illicit heroin used in the United States...

) for processing in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and eventual sale in the US or Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

.
In 1909 the gunboat USS Samar
USS Samar (PG-41)
USS Samar was a gunboat of the United States Navy. She was initially built for the Spanish Navy, but was captured during the Spanish-American War and taken into service with the US Navy .-Spanish career:...

 changed station to Shanghai, where she regularly patrolled the lower Yangtze River up to Nanking and Wuhu. Following an anti-foreign riots in Changsha in April 1910, which destroyed a number of missions and merchant warehouses, Samar sailed up the Yangtze River to Hankow and then Changsa to show the flag and help restore order. The gunboat was also administratively assigned to the Asiatic Fleet that year, which had been reestablished by the Navy to better protect, in the words of the Bureau of Navigation, "American interests in the Orient." After returning to Shanghai in August, she sailed up river again the following summer, passing Wuhu in June but then running aground off Kichau on 1 July 1911.

After staying stuck in the mud for two weeks, Samar broke free and sailed back down river to coal ship. Returning upriver, the gunboat reached Hankow in August and Ichang in September where she wintered over owing to both the dry season and the outbreak of rebellion at Wuchang in October 1911. Tensions eased and the gunboat turned downriver in July 1912, arriving at Shanghai in October. Samar patrolled the lower Yangtze after fighting broke out in the summer 1913, a precursor to a decade of conflict between provincial warlord
Warlord
A warlord is a person with power who has both military and civil control over a subnational area due to armed forces loyal to the warlord and not to a central authority. The term can also mean one who espouses the ideal that war is necessary, and has the means and authority to engage in war...

s in China. In 1919, she was placed on the disposal list at Shanghai following a collision with a Yangtze River steamer that damaged her bow.

The Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 boats were replaced in the 1920s by the Luzon
USS Luzon (PG-47)
The first USS Luzon was laid down 20 November 1926 by the Kiangnan Dock and Engineering Works, Shanghai, China; launched 12 September 1927; sponsored by Miss Mary C. Carter, daughter of Commander Andrew F...

 and Mindanao
USS Mindanao (PR-8)
The first USS Mindanao was a river gunboat in the service of the United States Navy before and during World War II.-Construction and commissioning:...

 were the largest, Oahu and Panay
USS Panay (PR-5)
|-External links:* * *...

 next in size, and Guam and Tutuila the smallest. China in the first fifty years of the 20th century, was in low-grade chaos. Warlords, revolutions, natural disasters, civil war and invasions contributed. Yangtze boats were involved in the Nanjing Incident
Nanjing Incident
The Nanjing Incident, or Nanking Incident, , occurred in March of 1927 during the capture of the city by Communistforces from the Nationalists. Warships bombarded Nanjing in defense of the foreign citizens within the city. Several ships were involved in the engagement, including vessels from Great...

 in 1927 when the Communists and Nationalists broke into open war. The Chiang
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

's massacre of the Communists
Shanghai massacre of 1927
The April 12 Incident of 1927 refers to the violent suppression of Chinese Communist Party organizations in Shanghai by the military forces of Chiang Kai-shek and conservative factions in the Kuomintang...

 in Shanghai in 1927 furthered the unrest, US Marines with tanks were landed. River steamers were popular targets for both Nationalists and Communists, and peasants who would take periodic pot-shots at vessels. During the course of service the second USS Palos
USS Palos
USS Palos may refer to:, a tug built in 1865 and later converted to a gunboat. She was decommissioned in 1893., a gunboat built for service in China's Yangtze River. She was decommissioned in 1937....

 protected American interests in China down the entire length of the Yangtze, at times convoying U.S. and foreign vessels on the river, evacuating American citizens during periods of disturbance and in general giving credible presence to U.S. consulates and residences in various Chinese cities. In the period of great unrest in central China in the 1920s, Palos was especially busy patrolling the upper Yangtze against bands of warlord soldiers and outlaws. The warship engaged in continuous patrol operations between Ichang and Chungking throughout 1923, supplying armed guards to merchant ships, and protecting Americans at Chungking while that city was under siege by a warlord army

The British Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 had a series of Insect class gunboat
Insect class gunboat
The Insect class patrol boats were a class of small, but well-armed Royal Navy ships designed for use in shallow rivers or inshore. They were intended for use on the Danube...

s which patrolled between Chongqing
Chongqing
Chongqing is a major city in Southwest China and one of the five national central cities of China. Administratively, it is one of the PRC's four direct-controlled municipalities , and the only such municipality in inland China.The municipality was created on 14 March 1997, succeeding the...

 and Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

. Cruisers and destroyers and Fly class vessels also patrolled. The most infamous incident was when USS Panay
USS Panay
Three vessels of the United States Navy have been named USS Panay, after the Visayan Island Panay.* The first Panay was originally a Spanish gunboat in the Philippines, purchased in 1899 after the American occupation, and in various service until 1914, and sold in 1920. Among those who served upon...

 and HMS Bee
HMS Bee (1915)
HMS Bee was an Insect class gunboat of the Royal Navy, launched on 8 December 1915. This class are also known as "Large China Gunboats".Initially built for service on the River Danube, after World War I the Insects were transported to China and served on the Yangtze River...

 in 1937,were dive bombed by Japanese aeroplanes during the Nanking Massacre
Nanking Massacre
The Nanking Massacre or Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking, was a mass murder, genocide and war rape that occurred during the six-week period following the Japanese capture of the city of Nanjing , the former capital of the Republic of China, on December 13, 1937 during the Second...

. The Europeans were forced to leave the Yangtse River with the Japanese takeover in 1941. The former steamers were either sabotaged or pressed into Japanese or Chinese service. Probably the most curious incident involved HMS Amethyst in 1949 during the Chinese Civil war
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

 between Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 and People's Liberation Army
People's Liberation Army
The People's Liberation Army is the unified military organization of all land, sea, strategic missile and air forces of the People's Republic of China. The PLA was established on August 1, 1927 — celebrated annually as "PLA Day" — as the military arm of the Communist Party of China...

 forces; and led to the award of the Dickin Medal
Dickin Medal
The Dickin Medal was instituted in 1943 in the United Kingdom by Maria Dickin to honour the work of animals in war. It is a bronze medallion, bearing the words "For Gallantry" and "We Also Serve" within a laurel wreath, carried on a ribbon of striped green, dark brown and pale blue...

 to the ship's cat Simon
Simon (cat)
Simon was the ship's cat who served on the Royal Navy sloop HMS Amethyst. In 1949, during the Yangtze Incident, he received the PDSA's Dickin Medal after surviving injuries from a cannon shell, raising morale, and killing off a rat infestation during his service.-Origin:Simon was found wandering...

. See the film Yangtse Incident starring Richard Todd
Richard Todd
Richard Todd OBE was an Irish-born British stage and film actor and soldier.-Early life:Richard Todd was born as Richard Andrew Palethorpe-Todd in Dublin, Ireland. His father, Andrew William Palethorpe Todd, was an Irish physician and an international Irish rugby player who gained three caps for...

.

Degradation of the river

Beginning in the 1950s dams and thousands of kilometres of dykes were built for flood control, land reclamation, irrigation and for the control of diseases vectors such as blood flukes that caused Schistosomiasis
Schistosomiasis
Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease caused by several species of trematodes , a parasitic worm of the genus Schistosoma. Snails often act as an intermediary agent for the infectious diseases until a new human host is found...

. More than a hundred lakes were thus cut off from the main river and partially or completely dried up. For example, Baidang Lake has shrunk from 100 square kilometres in the 1950s to 40 square kilometres in 2005. Zhangdu Lake has dwindled to one quarter of its original size. Natural fisheries output in the two lakes has declined sharply. Only a few large lakes, such as Poyang Lake and Dongting Lake
Dongting Lake
Dongting Lake, or Lake Dongting is a large, shallow lake in northeastern Hunan province, China. It is a flood basin of the Yangtze River . Hence the lake's size depends on the season...

, remained connected to the Yangtze. Cutting off the other lakes that had served as natural buffers for floods increased the damage done by floods further downstream. Furthermore, the natural flow of migratory fish was obstructed and biodiversity across the whole basin decreased dramatically. Intensive farming of fish in ponds spread using one type of carp
Carp
Carp are various species of oily freshwater fish of the family Cyprinidae, a very large group of fish native to Europe and Asia. The cypriniformes are traditionally grouped with the Characiformes, Siluriformes and Gymnotiformes to create the superorder Ostariophysi, since these groups have certain...

 who thrived in eutrophic water conditions and who feeds on algae, causing widespread pollution. The pollution was exacerbated by the discharge of waste from pig farms as well as of untreated industrial and municipal sewage.

Reconnecting lakes and the river

In 2002 a pilot program was initiated to reconnect lakes to the Yangtse with the objective to increase biodiversity and to alleviate flooding. The first lakes to be reconnected in 2004 were Zhangdu Lake, Honghu Lake and Tian'e-Zhou in Hubei
Hubei
' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

 province on the middle Yangtse. In 2005 Baidang Lake in Anhui
Anhui
Anhui is a province in the People's Republic of China. Located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huai River, it borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny...

 Province was also reconnected.

Reconnecting the lakes improved water quality and fish were able to migrate from the river into the lake, replenishing their numbers and genetic stock. The trial also showed that reconnecting the lake reduced flooding. The new approach also benefitted the farmers economically. Pond farmers switched to natural fish feed, which helped them breed better quality fish that can be sold for more, increasing their income by 30%. Based on the successful pilot project, other provincial governments emulated the experience and also reestablished connections to lakes that had previously been cut off from the river. In 2005 a Yangtze Forum has been established bringing together 13 riparian provincial governments to manage the river from source to sea. In 2006 China’s Ministry of Agriculture made it a national policy to reconnect the Yangtse River with its lakes. As of 2010, provincial governments in five provinces and Shanghai set up a network of 40 effective protected areas, covering 16,500km2. As a result, populations of 47 threatened species increased, including the critically endangered Yangtze alligator. In the Shanghai area, reestablished wetlands now protect drinking water sources for the city. It is envisaged to extend the network throughout the entire Yangtze to eventually cover 102 areas and 185,000km2. The mayor of Wuhan
Wuhan
Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province, People's Republic of China, and is the most populous city in Central China. It lies at the east of the Jianghan Plain, and the intersection of the middle reaches of the Yangtze and Han rivers...

 announced that six huge, stagnating urban lakes including the East Lake (Wuhan)
East Lake (Wuhan)
East Lake is a large lake within the city limits of Wuhan, China, and the largest urban lake in China. Wuhan's East Lake covers an area of 33 square kilometers. It was designated as one of the 4A tourist zones of China in 2000...

 would be reconnected at the cost of US$ 2.3 billion creating China’s largest urban wetland landscape.

Major cities along the river

  • Panzhihua
    Panzhihua
    Panzhihua is a prefecture-level city located in the far south of Sichuan province of Southwest China, on the confluence of the Jinsha and Yalong Rivers. It has an administrative area of , and a total population of 1,100,800 as of 2007. It is the only city in China having a name of a flower, and...

  • Yibin
    Yibin
    -Administrative divisions:-Economy:The city's industry focuses on electronics, food products, and power generation. It also produces paper, silk, and leather products...

  • Luzhou
    Luzhou
    -History:The history of Luzhou dates back to Xia and Shang Dynasties. Luzhou became a prefecture level city in 1983.-History of Luzhou:...

  • Chongqing
    Chongqing
    Chongqing is a major city in Southwest China and one of the five national central cities of China. Administratively, it is one of the PRC's four direct-controlled municipalities , and the only such municipality in inland China.The municipality was created on 14 March 1997, succeeding the...

  • Yichang
    Yichang
    Yichang is a prefecture-level city located in Hubei province of the People's Republic of China. It is the second largest city in Hubei province after the province capital, Wuhan. The Three Gorges Dam is located within its administrative area, in Yiling District.-History:In ancient times Yichang...

  • Jingzhou
    Jingzhou
    Jingzhou is a prefecture-level city in Hubei Province, People's Republic of China. The city is located on the banks of the Yangtze River.Its population is 5,691,707 at the 2010 census whom 1,154,086 in the built up area made of 3 urban districts.-Geography:Jingzhou occupies an area of...

  • Shashi
    Shashi District
    Shashi District is a district within the main urban area of the Jingzhou Prefecture-level City, Hubei Province, China. It is located on the left bank of the Yangtze River, between Yichang and Wuhan...

  • Shishou
    Shishou
    Shishou is a county-level city under the administration of the prefectural-level city Jingzhou in Hubei Province, People's Republic of China.-Geography:...

  • Yueyang
    Yueyang
    Yueyang is a prefecture-level city at the northeastern corner of Hunan province, South Central China, on the southern shores of Dongting Lake.The Yueyang metropolitan area occupies 14,896 km². and the city proper occupies 304 km²...

  • Xianning
    Xianning
    Xianning is a prefecture-level city in China's Hubei province. It is known as the "City of Osmanthus".-Geography and climate:Xianning is located in southeastern Hubei province, just south of Wuhan, between the southern bank of the Yangtze River in the north and the Mufu Mountains in the south. It...

  • Wuhan
    Wuhan
    Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province, People's Republic of China, and is the most populous city in Central China. It lies at the east of the Jianghan Plain, and the intersection of the middle reaches of the Yangtze and Han rivers...

  • Ezhou
    Ezhou
    -Geography and climate:Ezhou is located in southeastern Hubei province, on the southern bank of the Yangtze River east of Wuchang , and across the river from the city of Huanggang, to which it is connected by the Ehuang Bridge...

  • Huangshi
    Huangshi
    Huangshi is a prefecture-level city in China's Hubei province.-Geography and climate:The prefecture-level city of Huangshi is located in southeastern Hubei province, along the southwestern bank of one of the major bends in the Yangtze River. It is located 100 km south-east of Wuhan, and...

  • Huanggang
    Huanggang, Hubei
    Huanggang City is a major municipality in eastern Hubei Province, China. It is situated to the north of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and is bounded in the north by the Dabie Shan mountain range....

  • Chaohu
  • Chizhou
    Chizhou
    Chizhou is a prefecture-level city in Anhui province, People's Republic of China. It borders Anqing to the northwest, Tongling and Wuhu to the northeast, Xuancheng to the east, Huangshan to the southeast, and the province of Jiangxi to the southwest....

  • Jiujiang
    Jiujiang
    Jiujiang , formerly transliterated Kiukiang, is a prefecture-level city located on the southern shores of the Yangtze River in northwest Jiangxi Province, China. It is the second-largest prefecture-level city in Jiangxi province, the largest one being Nanchang...

  • Anqing
    Anqing
    Anqing is a prefecture-level city in southwestern Anhui province, East China. It borders Lu'an to the north, Chaohu to the northeast, Tongling to the east, Chizhou to the southeast, and the provinces of Jiangxi and Hubei to the south and west respectively....

  • Tongling
    Tongling
    Tongling is a prefecture-level city in southern Anhui province, People's Republic of China. A river port along the Yangtze River, Tongling borders Chaohu to the north, Wuhu to the east, Chizhou to the southwest and Anqing to the west....

  • Wuhu
  • Hefei
    Hefei
    Hefei is the capital and largest city of Anhui Province in Eastern China. A prefecture-level city, it is the political, economic, and cultural centre of Anhui...

  • Chuzhou
    Chuzhou
    Chuzhou is a prefecture-level city in eastern Anhui Province, People's Republic of China. It borders the provincial capital of Hefei to the southwest, Huainan to the west, Bengbu to the northwest, Chaohu to the south, and the province of Jiangsu to the east...

  • Maanshan
  • Taizhou
    Taizhou, Jiangsu
    Taizhou is a prefecture-level city in central Jiangsu province of eastern China. Situated on the north bank of the Yangtze River, it borders Nantong to the east, Yancheng to the north and Yangzhou to the west....

  • Yangzhou
    Yangzhou
    Yangzhou is a prefecture-level city in central Jiangsu Province, People's Republic of China. Sitting on the northern bank of the Yangtze River, it borders the provincial capital of Nanjing to the southwest, Huai'an to the north, Yancheng to the northeast, Taizhou to the east, and Zhenjiang across...

  • Zhenjiang
    Zhenjiang
    Zhenjiang is a prefecture-level city in the southwest of Jiangsu province in the eastern People's Republic of China . Sitting on the southern bank of the Yangtze River, it borders the provincial capital of Nanjing to the west, Changzhou to the east, and Yangzhou across the river to the north.Once...

  • Nanjing
    Nanjing
    ' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

  • Jiangyin
    Jiangyin
    Jiangyin is a city in China's Jiangsu province on the Yangtze River. It has population of 1.2 million . The total GDP reached RMB 171.3 billion yuan in 2009, an increase of 11.6% from 2008. The GDP per capita reached RMB 142,572 yuan...

  • Nantong
    Nantong
    Nantong is a prefecture-level city in Jiangsu province, People's Republic of China. Located on the northern bank of the Yangtze River, near the river mouth, Nantong is a vital river port bordering Yancheng to the north, Taizhou to the west, Suzhou and Shanghai to the south across the river, and...

  • Shanghai
    Shanghai
    Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

  • Fengdu
    Fengdu
    Fengdu County is a county located in Chongqing Municipality, People's Republic of China.-Fengdu:There is a necropolis called Fengdu modelled after the Chinese Hell in Taoist mythology, built over 1800 years ago. The famous ghost town will become an island once the Three Gorges Dam project is...


Crossings

Until 1957, there were no bridges across the Yangtze River from Yibin to Shanghai. For millennia, travelers crossed the river by ferry. The river stood as a major geographic barrier dividing northern and southern China. In the first half of the 20th century, rail passengers from Beijing to Guangzhou and Shanghai had to disembark, respectively, at Hanyang and Pukou, and cross the river by steam ferry before resuming journeys by train. After the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, Soviet engineers assisted in the design and construction of the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge
Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge
The Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge , commonly known as First Wuhan Yangtze Bridge, is the first bridge built over the Yangtze River in Wuhan.-Timing:...

, a dual-use road-rail bridge, built from 1955 to 1957. It was the first bridge across the Yangtze River. The second bridge across the river was built a single-track railway bridge built upstream in Chongqing in 1959. The Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge
Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge
The Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge is the first bridge to be built across the Yangtze River in Nanjing, China. It was completed in 1968 and is the first double-decker, double-track highway and railway bridge designed and constructed by the Chinese without outside engineering assistance.After the...

, also a road-rail bridge, was the first bridge to cross the lower reaches of the Yangtze, in Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

. It was built after the Sino-Soviet Split
Sino-Soviet split
In political science, the term Sino–Soviet split denotes the worsening of political and ideologic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics during the Cold War...

 and did not receive foreign assistance. Road-rail bridges were then built in Zhicheng
Zhicheng
Zhicheng is a Chinese city in the province of Hubei. As of 2005, it had a population of 159,000....

 (1971) and Chongqing (1980).

Bridge-building slowed in the 1980s before resuming in the 1990s and accelerating in the first decade of the 21st century. The Jiujiang Yangtze River Bridge
Jiujiang Yangtze River Bridge
The Jiujiang Yangtze River Bridge is a combined road and rail bridge which crosses the Yangtze River near the city of Jiujiang. It links Xunyang District of Jiujiang, Jiangxi Province from the south with Xiaochi Town from the north...

 was built in 1992 as part of the Beijing-Jiujiang Railway
Jingjiu Railway
The Beijing-Jiujiang-Kowloon Railway, also known as the Beijing-Jiujiang-Kowloon Railway or Jingjiu Railway) is a railway in the China connecting Beijing West Station in Beijing to Shenzhen Station in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province...

. A second bridge in Wuhan
Second Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge
The Second Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge is a bridge across the Yangtze River in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. It is located northeast of the historic central area of the city's Hankou District.-Construction:...

 was completed in 1995. By 2005, there were a total of 56 bridges and one tunnel across the Yangtze River between Yibin and Shanghai. These include some of the longest suspension
Suspension bridge
A suspension bridge is a type of bridge in which the deck is hung below suspension cables on vertical suspenders. Outside Tibet and Bhutan, where the first examples of this type of bridge were built in the 15th century, this type of bridge dates from the early 19th century...

 and cable-stayed bridge
Cable-stayed bridge
A cable-stayed bridge is a bridge that consists of one or more columns , with cables supporting the bridge deck....

s in the world on the Yangtze Delta: Jiangyin Suspension Bridge
Jiangyin Suspension Bridge
The Jiangyin Suspension Bridge was the most seaward bridge to cross the Yangtze River of China at the time of its completion, however, the recently completed Sutong Bridge and Shanghai Yangtze Bridge/Tunnel are now more seaward. It connects the cities of Jiangyin and Jingjiang...

 (1385m, opened in 1999), Runyang Bridge (1490m, opened 2005), Sutong Bridge (1088m, opened 2008). The rapid pace of bridge construction has continued. The city of Wuhan now has six bridges and one tunnel across the Yangtze.

A number of power line crossings have also been built across the river.

Dams

As of 2007, there are two dams built on the Yangtze river: Three Gorges Dam
Three Gorges Dam
The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam that spans the Yangtze River by the town of Sandouping, located in the Yiling District of Yichang, in Hubei province, China...

 and Gezhouba Dam
Gezhouba Dam
The Gezhouba Dam or Gezhouba Water Control Project on the Yangtze River is located in the western suburbs of Yichang City in central China's Hubei province. The dam sits a few kilometers upstream from downtown Yichang, just downstream of the fall of the Huangbo River into the Yangtze. Construction...

. Several dams are being constructed on the upper portion of the river, the Jinsha River
Jinsha River
Jinsha River is the westernmost of the major headwater streams of the Yangtze River, southwestern China.Its headwaters rise in the Wulan and Kekexili ranges in western Qinghai province, to the south of the Kunlun Mountains, and on the northern slope of the Tanggula Mountains on the border of the...

.

Tributaries

The Yangtze River has over 700 tributaries. The major tributaries (listed from upstream to downstream) with the locations of where they join the Yangtze are:
  • Yalong River
    Yalong River
    The Nyag Qu or Yalong River, also called Ya-lung River is an 822 mile long river in the Sichuan province of southern China. It flows into the Yangtze River along the border with Yunnan. It is a tributary of the Yangtze River...

     (Yunnan Province)
  • Min River (Yibin
    Yibin
    -Administrative divisions:-Economy:The city's industry focuses on electronics, food products, and power generation. It also produces paper, silk, and leather products...

    , Sichuan Province)
  • Jialing River
    Jialing River
    The Jialing River is a tributary of the Yangtze River with its source in Gansu province. It gets its name from its crossing the Jialing Vale in Feng County of Shaanxi. It was once known as Langshui or Yushui .-Overview:...

     (Chongqing
    Chongqing
    Chongqing is a major city in Southwest China and one of the five national central cities of China. Administratively, it is one of the PRC's four direct-controlled municipalities , and the only such municipality in inland China.The municipality was created on 14 March 1997, succeeding the...

    )
  • Wu Jiang
  • Qing Jiang (Yidu
    Yidu, Hubei
    Yidu is a county-level city in Hubei, China. It is under the administration of the prefecture-level city of Yichang....

    , Hubei Province)
  • Yuan River
    Yuan River
    The Yuan River is one of the four largest rivers in Hunan province in southeast-central China, and is a tributary of Yangtze River.It is long and rises in Guizhou province in the Miao Mountains near Tu-yün and is navigable. The upper stream is called the Lung-t'ou River, and downstream it is...

  • Zi Shui
  • Xiang River
    Xiang River
    The Xiang River , in older transliterations as the Siang River or Hsiang River, is a river in southern China...

    (Yueyang
    Yueyang
    Yueyang is a prefecture-level city at the northeastern corner of Hunan province, South Central China, on the southern shores of Dongting Lake.The Yueyang metropolitan area occupies 14,896 km². and the city proper occupies 304 km²...

    , Hunan)
  • Han River
    Han River (Hanshui)
    The Han River is a left tributary of the Yangtze River with a length of 1532 km. Historically it was referred to as Hànshuǐ and the name is still occasionally used today....

     (Wuhan
    Wuhan
    Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province, People's Republic of China, and is the most populous city in Central China. It lies at the east of the Jianghan Plain, and the intersection of the middle reaches of the Yangtze and Han rivers...

    , Hubei)
  • Gan River (near Jiujiang
    Jiujiang
    Jiujiang , formerly transliterated Kiukiang, is a prefecture-level city located on the southern shores of the Yangtze River in northwest Jiangxi Province, China. It is the second-largest prefecture-level city in Jiangxi province, the largest one being Nanchang...

    , Jiangxi Province.)

Protected areas

  • Sanjiangyuan ("Three Rivers' Sources") National Nature Reserve
    Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve
    The Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve The Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve The Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve (SNNR; ; Tibetan: (གཙང་གསུམ་འབུང་ཁུངས་རང་བྱུང་སྲུང་སྐྱོབ་ཁུལ།) also referred to as the Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve, or the Three Rivers Nature Reserve, is the area of Qinghai...

     in Qinghai
    Qinghai
    Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

  • Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan

Wildlife

The Yangtze is home to at least three critically endangered species: The Chinese Alligator
Chinese Alligator
The Chinese alligator or Alligator Alligator sinensis) is one of two known living species of Alligator, a genus in the family Alligatoridae. The Chinese alligator is native only to China...

, the Finless Porpoise
Finless Porpoise
The finless porpoise is one of six porpoise species. In the waters around Japan, at the northern end of its range, it is known as the sunameri . A freshwater population found in the Yangtze River in China is known locally as the jiangzhu or "river pig". There is a degree of taxonomic uncertainty...

 and the Chinese Paddlefish
Chinese Paddlefish
Chinese Paddlefish, Psephurus gladius , also known as Chinese Swordfish, are among the largest freshwater fish. It is one of two extant paddlefish species, the other being the American Paddlefish . It is also called "elephant fish" because its snout resembles an elephant trunk...

. (This is the only other place besides the U.S. that is native to an alligator and paddlefish species.) The Finless Porpoise
Finless Porpoise
The finless porpoise is one of six porpoise species. In the waters around Japan, at the northern end of its range, it is known as the sunameri . A freshwater population found in the Yangtze River in China is known locally as the jiangzhu or "river pig". There is a degree of taxonomic uncertainty...

 were counted in 2010 to be 1000 exemplars. More species have become extinct in the Yangtze than in any other river in China. This is due to commercial use of the river coupled with tourism and pollution. In December 2006, the Baiji
Baiji
Baiji may refer to:* The Baiji or Yangtze River Dolphin * Baiji, Iraq, a city of northern Iraq.* "Baiji" is the pinyin Romanization for Baekje....

 (Chinese River Dolphin) was declared functionally extinct
Functional extinction
Functional extinction is the extinction of a species or other taxon such that:#it disappears from the fossil record, or historic reports of its existence cease;#the reduced population no longer plays a significant role in ecosystem function; or...

 after an extensive search of the river revealed no signs of the dolphin's inhabitance; however, one was sighted soon after.

See also

  • List of rivers in China
  • Geography of China
    Geography of China
    China stretches some across the East Asian landmass bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea and Vietnam in a changing configuration of broad plains, expansive deserts, and lofty mountain ranges, including vast areas of inhospitable terrain...

  • Yangtze Service Medal
    Yangtze Service Medal
    The Yangtze Service Medal is a decoration of the United States military which was created in 1930 for presentation to members of the U.S. Navy and United States Marine Corps...

  • Ship lifts in China
  • Chang Jiang (motorcycle)
  • Tiger Leaping Gorge
    Tiger Leaping Gorge
    Tiger Leaping Gorge is a canyon on the Yangtze River – locally called the Golden Sands River – located 60 km north of Lijiang City, Yunnan in southwestern China...

  • Yangtze River Crossing
    Yangtze River Crossing
    The Yangtze River Power Line Crossings refer to overhead power lines that cross the Yangtze River in China. There are at least three power line crossings on the Yangtze River at Jiangyin, Nanjing, and Wuhu. The one at Jiangyin has the tallest electrical pylons in the world.-Jiangyin:One exists...

  • South-North Water Transfer Project
    South-North Water Transfer Project
    The South-North Water Transfer Project is a multi-decade infrastructure project of the People's Republic of China to better utilize water resources available to China. This is to be achieved through the South North Water Diversion Project...

  • Yangtze Incident
  • Three Furnaces
    Three Furnaces
    The term Three Furnaces refers to the especially hot and oppressively humid summer weather in several major cities in the Yangtze River Valley, within China. It was coined during the Republican period of China, and refers to the following cities:*Chongqing...

  • Steamboats on the Yangtze River
    Steamboats on the Yangtze River
    After thousands of years of junk and sampan traffic on the Yangtze River , river steamers came with the Europeans. While thesteam engines brought technological improvement, they also brought European involvement, war, and opium. The age of the steamer...

  • Rediscovering the Yangtze River
    Rediscovering the Yangtze River
    Rediscovering the Yangtze River is a 2006 documentary created by China Central Television to follow up on an earlier 1984 documentary film named "The Story of the Yangtze River" ....


Further reading

  • Carles, William Richard, "The Yangtse Chiang", The Geographical Journal
    The Geographical Journal
    The Geographical Journal is a journal of the Royal Geographical Society and has been published since 1831. Its original title was Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London. The journal publishes original research papers and review articles across geography, and has the highest...

    , Vol. 12, No. 3 (Sep., 1898), pp. 225–240; Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The Royal Geographical Society
    Royal Geographical Society
    The Royal Geographical Society is a British learned society founded in 1830 for the advancement of geographical sciences...

    (with the Institute of British Geographers)
  • Grover, David H. 1992 American Merchant Ships on the Yangtze, 1920-1941. Wesport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers.
  • Van Slyke, Lyman P. 1988. Yangtze: nature, history, and the river. A Portable Stanford Book. ISBN 0-201-08894-0
  • Winchester, Simon. 1996. The River at the Center of the World: A Journey up the Yangtze & Back in Chinese Time, Holt, Henry & Company, 1996, hardcover, ISBN 0-8050-3888-4; trade paperback, Owl Publishing, 1997, ISBN 0-8050-5508-8; trade paperback, St. Martins, 2004, 432 pages, ISBN 0-312-42337-3

External links

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