The Yangtze River
The Chinese call the Yangtze River, Chang-jiang, which means "Long River".
Yangtze River is the longest river of Asia and the third longest river in the world,about 6300 km (about 3937 mile) in length.Its width can range from eight to more than 1000 meters when the water rises. It rises in the Kunlun Mountains in the southwestern section of Qinghai Province in China, and flows generally south through Sichuan Province into Yunnan Province, where, in the vicinity of Huize, it bends sharply to the northeast. Then, it flows generally northeast and east across central China through Sichuan, Hubei, Anhui, and Jiangsu Provinces to its mouth in the East China Sea, about 23 km (about 14 mi) north of Shanghai.
Yangtze River flows past 2 autonomous regions and 6 provinces totally and cuts through the heart of China while it is regarded as the division of the country into north and south geographically. The watershed area of the Yangtze River is about 700,000 square miles, approximately 20% of China''s total land area, and 25% of its total farming land area. Its fertile alluvial plains produce great amounts of wheat, cotton, tobacco and silk.
About 350 million people live near the Yangtze River and its 700 tributaries and the Yangtze River reaches are rich in such agricultural productions as rice, cotton, edible oil, silk, linen, tea and tobacco, of which the rice production makes up 70 percent and the cotton about one-third of the country’s total respectively.
The Yangtze River reaches were one of the cradles of the Chinese civilization. Places along both sides of the river are homes to hundreds and thousands of relics and ancient architectures such as mansions, terraces and platforms, pavilions, towers, temples, gardens, stone carvings and forests of steles, which all serve as proofs of the intelligence and wisdom of the ancient Chinese people. Dangerous floods kill people and livestock living near the river.
The wet season begins in April, bringing heavy rain in the middle and lower reaches. By July and August the wet weather reaches the Sichuan Basin where the prevalence of mountainous terrain causes widespread rainfall. Then, as the water level starts to subside, the ''Sichuan waters'' begin to threaten again.
With its numerous tributaries and feeders, the Yangtze provides a great transportation network through the heart of some of the most densely populated and economically important areas in China. Almost all of the boating traffic in China is on the Yangtze River. Among the principal cities on the Yangtze, in addition to those cited in the foregoing, are Wuchang, Nanjing, Hanyang, and Anqing (An-ch''ing). Jiangsu Province, largely a deltaic plain consisting of silt deposited by the Yangtze (more than 170 million cu m/6 billion cu ft annually), is one of the chief rice-growing areas of China.
The Yangtze River can be divided into three parts:the Upper Reaches from the source of Qinghai Province to Yichang in Hubei Province(200 kilometers),the Middle Reaches from Yichang to Hukou at the mouth Poyang Lake in Jiangxi Province(1000 kilometers)and the Lower Reaches from Hukou to the estuary.The Upper Reaches is the most attractive part of the river cruise with wild mountain ranges, unbroken ravines, dangerous rapids and charming landscape.
The Yangtze River winds through the most beautiful and exciting land forms in the world. Once it reaches the edge of the Tibetan plateau, the river plunges off the "roof of the world," through huge gorges. The Three Gorges are famous for their steepness, beautiful wonders and tourist sites. The walls of the gorges are steep and can reach as high as 3000 feet.
In 1995 construction began on the Three Gorges Dam near Yichang and is scheduled for completion in 2009. The dam will measure about 600 feet and about 1.5 miles wide. The dam is expected to help control the flooding of the Yangtze River Valley. The Three Gorges (the Qutang Gorge, the Wuxia Gorge, and Xiling Gorge) will also be the largest electricity generating facility in the world. The hydroelectric generators will provide 1/9 of China''s total power output.