The Yangtze River, known as China’s “Mother River” flows from western China to East China Sea, in all 6,418 kilometers (3,988 miles). It is the longest river in Asia, and the third longest in the earth, after the Nile in Africa and the Amazon in South America. As the largest water system in China, Yangtze River has played a very important role in China’s history, culture, and economy. Yangtze River irrigates one fifth of China’s fertile land, and contributes as much as 20% of GDP of China.
Where did Yangtze River originate?
Yangtze River originated from Jurassic Period when Tanggula Range was formed because of Crustal Movement. Qinghai-Tibet Plateau was lifted up, a lot of deep valleys formed. Several tributaries join and the river then runs eastward through Qinghai, turning southward down a deep valley at the border of Sichuan and Tibet to reach Yunnan, keep going northeastward to Chongqing, via Three Gorges, arrive at Yichang of Hubei, flow eastward via Wuhang, Nanjing, finally join into East China Sea at Shanghai.
Yangtze River can be divided into three parts: from its origin in Qinghai to Yichang is the upstream; section between Yichang and Hukou in Jiangxi is the midstream; downstream begins from Hukou to the entrance to the East China Sea in Shanghai.
The section between Chongqing and Yichang, about a distance of 320 kilometers, is the section where the most classical shipping areas for cruise and the spectacular Yangtze Three Gorges Dam are located.
Three Gorges and Three Gorges Dam
The Three Gorges is the most beautiful section of Yangtze River, which is classified as an AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration. It consists of Wu Gorge, Xilin Gorge and Qutang Gorge. Wu Gorges is the longest one, famous for its deep valley and soaring peaks. Xiling Gorge features in its dangerous and rugged shoals as well as its turbulent waters. As for Qutang Gorge, it is considered as the most dramatic and gorgeous one by many tourists, with the width of the river here reduced to 100-200 meters and the narrowest places no more than a few dozen meters.
The Three Gorges Dam, completed in the end of 2008, was located in Sāndòupíng in the middle of the Xiling Gorge. It is the biggest hydropower-complex projects in the world. The dam and Three Gorges Reservoir has had a massive impact upon the region’s ecology and people, involving the mass relocation of towns and villages. The higher water level has changed the scenery of the Three Gorges, so that the river is wider and the mountains appear lower. However, the mountains still tower above the river, and the gorges continue to offer spectacular views of the surrounding cliffs.
The Three Gorges boost the booming of Yangtze Cruise in demand for river cruises. The increased width and depth of the river make it possible for larger cruise ships to sail steadily through the gorges, and there has been a significant increase of river traffic of all kinds.
History of Yangtze River
The Yangtze River played an important role in Chinese history. Its history can be traced back to thousands of years ago. In the Spring and Autumn Period of China (770-476 BC), There were 4 tribes here, the Ba, Shu, Wu and Yue. Although the Yellow River 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, Yangtze River became a crucial factor to China’s economy. Many irrigation systems were built (the most famous one is Dujiangyan), which developed agriculture. In the Song dynasty, Yangtze area had become among the wealthiest and most developed parts of the country. Early in the Qing dynasty, the region provided 1/3–1/2 of the nation’s revenues.
Historically, the Yangtze was the political boundary between north China and south China. Many battles took place along the river, the most famous being the Battle of Red Cliffs in 208 AD during the Three Kingdoms period.
Politically, Nanjing 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 and Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms periods. Only the Ming occupied most parts of China from their capital at Nanjing, though it later moved the capital to Beijing.