Yangtze River


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Map of The Three Gorges Dam

The Yangtze River which is the longest River in Asia snakes its way over 6,300 kilometers from Western China's Qinghai-Tiber Plateau to the East China Sea.  The Yangtze River generally flows south and passes through Sichuan, Hubei, Anhui, and Jiangsu provinces and is the third longest river in the world.  The longest being the Amazon, and the Nile.  The climate ranges from 96 degrees in the summer, to cold, brisk temperatures in the winter.  Precipitation is relatively high due to its high altitudes.  The river has over 700 tributaries, and crosses so many regions that it has acquired over half a dozen names.  Only in the lower reaches does it go by its name commonly known to foreigners: Yangtze.
       For over two centuries the Yangtze River has served as a transportation and commercial highway.  Ocean-going vessels can navigate up the river for over 1,000 kilometers.  A quarter of China’s ocean-going cargo enters the river between Shanghai and the sea.
       Besides its economic and agricultural importance the Yangtze River winds through some of China’s more beautiful areas.  There is a common Chinese saying which states: If you have not traveled up the mighty Yangtze River, then you have not been anywhere.  At the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, are mighty glaciers and everlasting snow which are the source for the Yangtze River?  Winding South from the high country the river passes through the world-renown Three Gorges which tower above it.  Besides its natural wonders the Yangtze River has an almost uncountable number of animal species frequent its shores, and approximately 350 Million people inhabit the Yangtze region.
       Serious archaeological research began in the difficult terrain around the Yangtze River in the 1970’s.  Recent discoveries could prove that civilizations of the Yangtze region could predate even those of China’s Yellow River making them the oldest civilizations in China.  It has also been recently theorized that the Yangtze River valley was home to the earliest known cultivation of rice anywhere in the world.
The waters of the Yangtze River are often used for rice and wheat irrigation.  It also has inexhaustible hydroelectric resources.  In 1995 construction began on the Three Gorges Dam near Yichang and is scheduled to be completed in 2009.  Upon completion the Three Gorges Dam will measure over 182 meters high, with a width of almost 2.5 kilometers.  The dam is expected to help control the annual flooding of the Yangtze River valley, and will be the largest electricity generating facility in the world.  The hydroelectric generators in the Three Gorges Dam will provide one ninth of China's total power output.

Below is a famous poem about the Yangtze River written by Mao Zedong.

A famous poem about the Yangtze River written by Mao Zedong


The Yangtze River

I have just drunk the waters of Changsha 
And come to eat the fish of Wuchang. 
Now I am swimming across the great Yangtze, 
Looking afar to the open sky of Chu. 
Let the wind blow and waves beat, 
Better far than idly strolling in a courtyard. 
Today I am at ease. 
"It was by a stream that the Master said-- 
'Thus do things flow away!' " 
Sails move with the wind. 
Tortoise and Snake are still. 
Great plans are afoot: 
A bridge will fly to span the north and south, 
Turning a deep chasm into a thoroughfare; 
Walls of stone will stand upstream to the west 
To hold back Wushan's clouds and rain 
Till a smooth lake rises in the narrow gorges. 
The mountain goddess if she is still there 
Will marvel at a world so changed.)

Keep Reading: 
Three Gorges          * Three Gorges Dam        * Best Travel Time of Yangtze River Cruises
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