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The Yangtze or Yangzi ( or ) is the longest river in Asia, the third-longest in the world and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises at Jari Hill in the
Tanggula Mountains The Tanggula ( Chinese: , p ''Tánggǔlāshān'', or , p ''Tánggǔlāshānmài''), Tangla, Tanglha, or Dangla Mountains ( Tibetan: , w ''Gdang La'', z ''Dang La'') are a mountain range in the central part of the ...
(Tibetan Plateau) and flows in a generally easterly direction to the
East China Sea The East China Sea is an arm of the Western Pacific Ocean, located directly offshore from East China (hence the name), covering an area of roughly . Its northern extension between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula Korea is a regi ...

East China Sea
. It is the seventh-largest river by discharge volume in the world. Its
drainage basin A drainage basin is any area of land where precipitation In meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences Atmospheric science is the study of the Earth's atmosphere File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Compos ...

drainage basin
comprises one-fifth of the land area of China, and is home to nearly one-third of the country's population. The Yangtze has played a major role in the
history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...

history
,
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals i ...
and
economy of China The economy of the People's Republic of China is a market-oriented economy that incorporates economic planning through industrial policies and strategic five-year plans. Dominated by state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and mixed-ownership enter ...
. For thousands of years, the river has been used for water, irrigation, sanitation, transportation, industry, boundary-marking and war. The prosperous
Yangtze Delta The Yangtze Delta or Yangtze River Delta (YRD, or simply ) is a triangle-shaped megalopolis generally comprising the Wu Chinese-speaking areas of Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of th ...
generates as much as 20% of China's GDP. The
Three Gorges Dam The Three Gorges Dam is a that spans the by the town of , in , , province, central , downstream of the . The Three Gorges Dam has been the in terms of (22,500 ) since 2012. The dam generates an average 95±20 TWh of electricity per ...

Three Gorges Dam
on the Yangtze is the largest hydro-electric power station in the world. In mid-2014, the Chinese government announced it was building a multi-tier
transport network A transport network, or transportation network is a network or graph in geographic space, describing an infrastructure that permits and constrains movement or flow. Examples include but are not limited to road networkA street network is a syst ...
, comprising railways, roads and airports, to create a new economic belt alongside the river. The Yangtze flows through a wide array of ecosystems and is habitat to several
endemic Endemism is the state of a species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interact ...
and threatened species including the
Chinese alligator The Chinese alligator (''Alligator sinensis'', ), also known as the Yangtze alligator, China alligator, or historically the muddy dragon, is a crocodilian Crocodilia (or Crocodylia, both ) is an Order (biology), order of mostly large, preda ...

Chinese alligator
, the
narrow-ridged finless porpoise The narrow-ridged finless porpoise (''Neophocaena asiaeorientalis'') is a newly accepted species, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature International is an adjective (also used as a noun) meaning "between nations". International m ...
and the Yangtze sturgeon, but also was the home of the extinct Yangtze river dolphin (or ''baiji'') and
Chinese paddlefish
Chinese paddlefish
. In recent years, the river has suffered from industrial pollution, plastic pollution,
agricultural runoff Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generat ...
,
siltation Siltation, is water pollution Water pollution (or aquatic pollution) is the contamination of water bodies ( Lysefjord) in Norway Norway ( nb, ; nn, ; se, Norga; smj, Vuodna; sma, Nöörje), officially the Kingdom of Norway, is ...
, and loss of wetland and lakes, which exacerbates seasonal flooding. Some sections of the river are now protected as
nature reserves A nature reserve (also known as a natural reserve, wildlife refuge, wildlife sanctuary, biosphere reserve or bioreserve, natural or nature preserve, or nature conservation area), is a protected area Protected areas or conservation areas are ...
. A stretch of the upstream Yangtze flowing through deep gorges in western
Yunnan Yunnan () is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in Southwest China, the southwest of the People's Republic of China. The province spans approximately and has a population of 48.3 million (as of 2018). The capital of the province is Ku ...

Yunnan
is part of the
Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas The Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas () is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Yunnan Yunnan () is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in Southwest China, the southwest of the People's Republic of China. The province spans ap ...
, a
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
World Heritage Site A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for h ...
.


Etymology


Chinese

Because the
source Source or subsource or ''variation'', may refer to: Research * Historical document * Historical source * Source (intelligence) or subsource, typically a confidential provider of non open-source intelligence * Source (journalism), a person, public ...
of the Yangtze was not ascertained until modern times, the Chinese have given different names to lower and upstream sections of the river.. ''The River of Golden Sand: The Narrative of a Journey Through China and Eastern Tibet to Burmah'', Vol. 1
p. 35
. "Introductory Essay." 1880. Reprint: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Retrieved August 14, 2013.


''Chang Jiang'' – "Long River"

() is the modern Chinese name for the lower of the Yangtze from its confluence with the Min River at
Yibin Yibin (; Sichuanese Pinyin: nyi2bin1; Sichuanese pronunciation: ) is a prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply "Huangshi" (). This is a useful ...

Yibin
in Sichuan to the river mouth at Shanghai. ''Chang Jiang'' literally means the "Long River." In
Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It i ...
, this stretch of the Yangtze was simply called ''Jiang/Kiang'' ,Baxter, Wm. H. & Sagart, Laurent. '' '', p. 56. 2011. Retrieved August 12, 2013. a
character Character(s) may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Character'' (novel), a 1936 Dutch novel by Ferdinand Bordewijk * ''Characters'' (Theophrastus), a classical Greek set of character sketches attributed to Theophrastus M ...

character
of
phono-semantic compound All Chinese character Chinese characters, also called ''Hanzi'' (), are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. They have been adapted to write other East-Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing sys ...
origin, combining the water
radical Radical may refer to: Arts and entertainment Music *Radical (mixtape), ''Radical'' (mixtape), by Odd Future, 2010 *Radical (Smack album), ''Radical'' (Smack album), 1988 *"Radicals", a song by Tyler, The Creator from the 2011 album ''Goblin (album ...
with the homophone (now pronounced , but ''*kˤoŋ'' in Old Chinese). ''Krong'' was probably a word in the
Austroasiatic The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and wri ...

Austroasiatic
language of local peoples such as the
Yue
Yue
. Similar to ''*krong'' in Proto-Vietnamese and ''krung'' in Mon, all meaning "river", it is related to modern Vietnamese ''sông'' (river) and
Khmer
Khmer
''krung'' (city on riverside), whence
Thai Thai or THAI may refer to: * Of or from Thailand, a country in Southeast Asia ** Thai people, the dominant ethnic group of Thailand ** Thai language, a Tai-Kadai language spoken mainly in and around Thailand *** Thai script *** Thai (Unicode block) ...

Thai
''krung'' (กรุง capital city), not ''kôngkea'' (water) which is from
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...
root ''ganga''. By the
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
, had come to mean ''any'' river in Chinese, and this river was distinguished as the "Great River" (). The epithet ( simplified version ), means "long", was first formally applied to the river during the
Six Dynasties __NOTOC__ Six Dynasties ( Chinese: 六朝; Pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland China, Taiwan (ROC), and Singapore. It is o ...
period. Various sections of the Yangtze have local names. From Yibin to
Yichang Yichang (), Postal Map Romanization, alternatively romanized as Ichang, is a prefecture-level city located in western Hubei province, China. It is the third largest city in the province after the capital, Wuhan and the prefecture-level city Xiang ...

Yichang
, the river through Sichuan and
Chongqing Municipality Chongqing ( ; ; Sichuanese pronunciation: , Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingu ...
is also known as the () or "
Sichuan River The Sichuan River or Chuan Jiang (; Sichuanese Pinyin Sichuanese Pinyin (Si4cuan1hua4 Pin1yin1; ), is a romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics, is the conversion of writing from a different writing system to the Latin script, ...
." In
Hubei Hubei (; ; alternately Hupeh) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity ...

Hubei
, the river is also called the () or the "Jing River" after
Jingzhou Jingzhou () is a prefecture-level city in southern Hubei province, China, located on the banks of the Yangtze River. Its total residential population was 5,231,180 based on the Seventh National Population Census of the People's Republic of China ...
, one of the Nine Provinces of ancient China. In
Anhui Anhui (; Postal romanization, formerly romanized as Anhwei) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, part of the East China region. Its provincial capital and largest city is Hefei. The province is l ...

Anhui
, the river takes on the local name after the shorthand name for Anhui, (皖). And () or the "Yangzi River", from which the English name Yangtze is derived, is the local name for the Lower Yangtze in the region of
Yangzhou Yangzhou, Postal Map Romanization, postal romanization Yangchow, is a prefecture-level city in central Jiangsu Province (Suzhong), East China. Sitting on the north bank of the Yangtze, it borders the provincial capital Nanjing to the southwest, H ...
. The name likely comes from an ancient ferry crossing called or (). Europeans who arrived in the
Yangtze River Delta The Yangtze Delta or Yangtze River Delta (YRD, or simply ) is a triangle-shaped megalopolis A megalopolis (), sometimes called a megapolis; also megaregion, city cluster or supercity, is a group of two or more roughly adjacent metropolitan a ...

Yangtze River Delta
region applied this local name to the whole river. The dividing site between upstream and
midstreamThe oil and gas industry The petroleum industry, also known as the oil industry or the oil patch, includes the global processes of hydrocarbon exploration, exploration, extraction of petroleum, extraction, oil refinery, refining, Petroleum transpo ...
is considered to be at Yichang and that between midstream and downstream at
Hukou ''Hukou'' () is a system of household registration used in mainland China Mainland China, also known as the Chinese mainland, China mainland, or the Mainland Area of the Republic of China is the geopolitics, geopolitical area under th ...
(
Jiujiang Jiujiang (), formerly transliterated Kiukiang or Kew Keang, is a prefecture-level city A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply " Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still from the Huangshi m ...

Jiujiang
).


''Jinsha Jiang'' – "Gold Sands River"

The
Jinsha River The Jinsha River (Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most popu ...
() is the name for of the Yangtze from Yibin upstream to the confluence with the Batang River near Yushu in Qinghai. From antiquity until the
Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the Dynasties in Chinese history, ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol Empire, Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynas ...

Ming dynasty
, this stretch of the river was believed to be a
tributary A tributary, or affluent, is a stream A stream is a body of water (Lysefjord) in Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") ...
of the Yangtze while the Min River was thought to be the main course of the river above Yibin. The name "Jinsha" originates in the
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kua ...
when the river attracted large numbers of gold prospectors. Gold prospecting along the Jinsha continues to this day. Prior to the Song dynasty, other names were used including, for example () from the
Three Kingdoms The Three Kingdoms () from 220 to 280 AD was the tripartite division of China among the states of Cao Wei, Wei, Shu Han, Shu, and Eastern Wu, Wu. The Three Kingdoms period started with the End of the Han dynasty, end of the Han dynasty#East ...

Three Kingdoms
(三國時代)period.


Tongtian River

The
Tongtian River The Zhi Qu (Tibetan) or Tongtian River (), is a long, flows within Qinghai Qinghai (; alternately romanized as Tsinghai, Ch'inghai), also known Kokonor, is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division ...
() describes the section from Yushu up to the confluence with the Dangqu River. The name comes from a fabled river in the ''
Journey to the West ''Journey to the West'' () is a Chinese novel published in the 16th century during the Ming dynasty and attributed to Wu Cheng'en. It is one of the Classic Chinese Novels, Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. It has been describ ...
''. In antiquity, it was called the Yak River. In
Mongolian Mongolian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Mongolia, a country in Asia * Mongolian people, or Mongols * Mongolia (1911–24), the government of Mongolia, 1911–1919 and 1921–1924 * Mongolian language * Mongolian alphabet * Mongo ...

Mongolian
, this section is known as the Murui-ussu (lit. "Winding Stream"). and sometimes confused with the nearby Baishui.


Tuotuo River

The Tuotuo River () is the official headstream of the Yangtze, and flows from the glaciers of the
Gar Kangri Gars are members of the family Lepisosteidae, which are the only surviving members of the Ginglymodi, an ancient holostei Holostei is a group of Actinopterygii, ray-finned bony fish. It is divided into two major clades, the Halecomorphi, repr ...
and the Geladandong Massifs in the
Tanggula Mountains The Tanggula ( Chinese: , p ''Tánggǔlāshān'', or , p ''Tánggǔlāshānmài''), Tangla, Tanglha, or Dangla Mountains ( Tibetan: , w ''Gdang La'', z ''Dang La'') are a mountain range in the central part of the ...
of southwestern
Qinghai Qinghai (; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Tsinghai, Ch'inghai), also known Kokonor, is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in Northwest China, the northwest of the China, People's Republic of China. It is one of ...

Qinghai
to the confluence with the Dangqu River to form the Tongtian River. In Mongolian, this section of the river known as the ''Ulaan Mörön'' or the "Red River." The Tuotuo is one of three main headstreams of the Yangtze. The Dangqu River () is the actual geographic headwater of the Yangtze. The name is derived the
Classical Tibetan Classical Tibetan refers to the language of any text written in Tibetic The Tibetan languages are a cluster of Tibeto-Burman languages descended from Old Tibetan, spoken across the Himalayan Massif, including the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalaya ...
for "Marsh River" (). The Chumar River (楚玛尔河) is the Chinese name for the northern
headwater 270px, FarringdonFarringdon may refer to: People * Nicholas de Farndone, 14th century Mayor of London Places London * Farringdon, London, an area of Clerkenwell which takes its name from ''Farringdon Station''. * Farringdon Road, a road in C ...
of the Yangtze, which flows from the
Hoh Xil Hoh Xil or Kekexili, (Mongolian language, Mongolian for "Blue Ridge", also Aqênganggyai for "Lord of Ten Thousand Mountains"), is an isolated region in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau. On July 7, 2017, the Hoh Xil in Qinghai was listed among th ...

Hoh Xil
Mountains in Qinghai province into the Tongtian. Chumar is Tibetan for the "Red River."


English

The river was called Quian () and Quianshui () by
Marco Polo Marco Polo (, , ; September 15, 1254January 8, 1324) was a merchant, explorer, and writer who travelled through Asia along the between 1271 and 1295. His travels are recorded in ' (also known as ''Book of the Marvels of the World '' and '' ...

Marco Polo
and appeared on the earliest English maps as Kian or Kiam,E.g., Moll, Herman.
The Empire of China and island of Japan, agreeable to modern history.
" Bowles & Bowles (London), 1736. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
which derives from Cantonese, all recording
dialects The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to b ...
which preserved forms of the
Middle Chinese Middle Chinese (formerly known as Ancient Chinese) or the Qieyun system (QYS) is the historical variety of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country ...
pronunciation of as ''Kæwng''. By the mid-19th century, these romanizations had standardized as Kiang; ''Dajiang'', e.g., was rendered as "Ta-Kiang." "Keeang-Koo,"Bell, James. ''A System of Geography, Popular and Scientific; or a Physical, Political, and Statistical Account of the World and its Various Divisions'', Vol. V, Part I
p. 215
. "Chinese Tartary." A. Fullarton & Co. (London), 1849. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
"Kyang Kew,"Tanner, B.
China divided into Great Provinces According to the best Authorities
." Mathew Carey (Philadelphia), 1795. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
"Kian-ku,"Bridgman, Elijah (ed.) ''
The Chinese Repository ''The Chinese Repository'' was a periodical published in Guangdong, Canton between May 1832 and 1851 to inform Protestant missionary, missionaries working in Asia about the history and culture of China, of current events, and documents. The world's ...
'', Vol. I
pp. 37 ff
. "Review. ''Ta Tsing Wan-neën Yih-tung King-wei Yu-too'',–'A General Geographical Map, with Degrees of Latitude and Longitude, of the Empire of the Ta Tsing Dynasty–May It Last Forever', by Le Mingche Tsinglae." Canton Mission Press (Guangdong), 1833.
and related names derived from mistaking the Chinese term for the mouth of the Yangtze (,  ''Jiāngkǒu'') as the name of the river itself. The name Blue River began to be applied in the 18th century, apparently owing to a former name of the Dam Chu or Min and to analogy with the
Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin: uə xɔ Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is ...
, but it was frequently explained in early English references as a 'translation' of ''Jiang'', ''Jiangkou'', or ''Yangzijiang''. Very common in 18th- and 19th-century sources, the name fell out of favor due to growing awareness of its lack of ''any'' connection to the river's Chinese namesDavis, John. ''The Chinese: A General Description of the Empire of China and Its Inhabitants'', Vol. 1
pp. 132 ff
. C. Knight, 1836.
''The St. James's Magazine'', Vol. XIV
p. 230
. "A Cruise on the Yangtze Kyang." W. Kent & Co. (London), 1865.
and to the irony of its application to such a muddy waterway.
Matteo Ricci Matteo Ricci (; la, Mattheus Riccius; 6 October 1552 – 11 May 1610), was an Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian ...
's 1615 Latin account included descriptions of the "Ianſu" and "Ianſuchian." Ricci, Matteo & al. ''De Christiana Expeditione Apud Sinas Suscepta ab Societate Jesu'', Libri V, 1615. New Edition: ''De Christiana Expeditione apud Sinas suscepta ab Societate Iesu'', Libri V
pp. 365 ff.
, Bernardus Gualterus (Cologne), 1617. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
The posthumous account's translation of the name as Fils de la Mar ("Son of the Ocean") shows that Ricci, who by the end of his life was fluent in literary Chinese, was introduced to it as the homophonic rather than the 'proper' . Further, although
railroads Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transport, transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicles running on rails, which are located on Track (rail transport), tracks. In contrast to road transport, where the vehic ...
and the Shanghai concessions subsequently turned it into a backwater, was the lower river's principal port for much of the
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
, directing Liangjiang's important salt monopoly and connecting the Yangtze with the
Grand CanalGrand Canal can refer to multiple waterways: * Grand Canal (China) in eastern China * Grand Canal (Ireland), between the River Shannon and Dublin in Ireland * Grand Canal (Venice) in Venice, Italy * Grand Canal d'Alsace in eastern France *Grand Cana ...
to Beijing. (That connection also made it one of the ''Yellow'' River's principal ports between the floods of
1344 Year 1344 (Roman numerals, MCCCXLIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. Events January–December * March 26 – ''Reconquista'': The Siege of Algeciras (1342–44), o ...
and the 1850s, during which time the Yellow River ran well south of
Shandong Shandong (; alternately romanized as Shantung) is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subn ...
and discharged into the ocean a mere few hundred kilometers from the mouth of the Yangtze.) By 1800, English cartographers such as
Aaron Arrowsmith Aaron Arrowsmith (1750–1823) was an English cartographer Cartography (; from Greek χάρτης ''chartēs'', "papyrus, sheet of paper, map"; and γράφειν ''graphein'', "write") is the study and practice of making and using maps. C ...

Aaron Arrowsmith
had adopted the French style of the name as Yang-tse or Yang-tse Kiang. The British diplomat emended this to Yang-tzu Chiang as part of his formerly popular
romanization of Chinese Romanization of Chinese () is the use of the Latin alphabet to transliterate Varieties of Chinese, Chinese. Chinese uses a logogram, logographic script and its Chinese characters, characters do not represent phonemes directly. There have been ma ...
, based on the
Beijing dialect The Beijing dialect (), also known as Pekingese, is the prestige dialect of Mandarin Chinese, Mandarin spoken in the urban area of Beijing, China. It is the phonological basis of Standard Chinese, the official language in the China, People's Repub ...
instead of Nanjing's and first published in 1867. The spellings Yangtze and Yangtze Kiang was a compromise between the two methods adopted at the 1906 Imperial Postal Conference in Shanghai, which established
postal romanization Postal romanization was a system of transliterating developed by postal authorities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For many cities, the corresponding postal romanization was the most common English-language form of the city's name ...
.
Hanyu Pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objecti ...
was adopted by the PRC's First Congress in 1958, but it was not widely employed in English outside mainland China prior to the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and the PRC in 1979; since that time, the spelling Yangzi has also been used.


Tibetan

The source and upper reaches of the Yangtze are located in ethnic Tibetan areas of
Qinghai Qinghai (; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Tsinghai, Ch'inghai), also known Kokonor, is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in Northwest China, the northwest of the China, People's Republic of China. It is one of ...

Qinghai
. In Tibetan, the Tuotuo headwaters are the ''Machu'' (, literally "Red River" or perhaps "Wound- ike RedRiver?")). The Tongtian is the ''Drichu'' (, ‘Bri Chu, literally "River of the Female
Yak The domestic yak (''Bos grunniens'') is a type of long-haired domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care o ...

Yak
";
transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of specific elements or symbols, or that repertoire * Script (styles of ha ...
into ).


Geography

The river originates from several tributaries in the eastern part of the
Tibetan Plateau The Tibetan Plateau (, also known as the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau or the Qing–Zang Plateau () or as the Himalayan Plateau in India, is a vast elevated plateau In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and - ...
, two of which are commonly referred to as the "source." Traditionally, the Chinese government has recognized the source as the Tuotuo tributary at the base of a glacier lying on the west of Geladandong Mountain in the
Tanggula Mountains The Tanggula ( Chinese: , p ''Tánggǔlāshān'', or , p ''Tánggǔlāshānmài''), Tangla, Tanglha, or Dangla Mountains ( Tibetan: , w ''Gdang La'', z ''Dang La'') are a mountain range in the central part of the ...
. This source is found at and while not the furthest source of the Yangtze, it is the highest source at above sea level. The true source of the Yangtze, hydrologically the longest river distance from the sea, is at Jari Hill at the head of the Dam Qu tributary, approximately southeast of Geladandong. This source was only discovered in the late 20th century and lies in wetlands at and above sea level just southeast of Chadan Township in
Zadoi County Zadoi County (; ; also Dzatö or Dzatoe) is a county in the southwest of Qinghai Province, China, bordering the Tibet Autonomous Region The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) or Xizang Autonomous Region, called Tibet or Xizang for short, is a pro ...
, Yushu Prefecture, Qinghai. As the historical spiritual source of the Yangtze, the Geladandong source is still commonly referred to as the source of the Yangtze since the discovery of the Jari Hill source. These tributaries join and the river then runs eastward through
Qinghai Qinghai (; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Tsinghai, Ch'inghai), also known Kokonor, is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in Northwest China, the northwest of the China, People's Republic of China. It is one of ...

Qinghai
(Tsinghai), turning southward down a deep valley at the border of
Sichuan Sichuan (; , ; alternatively romanized as Szechuan or Szechwan) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admini ...

Sichuan
(Szechwan) and
Tibet Tibet (; ; ) is a region in East Asia covering much of the Tibetan Plateau spanning about . It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpa people, Monpa, Tamang people, Tamang, Qia ...
to reach
Yunnan Yunnan () is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in Southwest China, the southwest of the People's Republic of China. The province spans approximately and has a population of 48.3 million (as of 2018). The capital of the province is Ku ...

Yunnan
. In the course of this valley, the river's elevation drops from above to less than . The headwaters of the Yangtze are situated at an elevation of about . In its descent to sea level, the river falls to an altitude of at Yibin, Sichuan, the head of navigation for riverboats, and to at Chongqing (Chungking). Between Chongqing and Yichang (I-ch'ang), at an altitude of and a distance of about , 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 (; Sichuanese Pinyin: nyi2bin1; Sichuanese pronunciation: ) is a prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply "Huangshi" (). This is a useful ...

Yibin
. While in the Sichuan basin, it receives several mighty tributaries, increasing its water volume significantly. It then cuts through Mount Wushan bordering
Chongqing Chongqing ( ; ; Sichuanese pronunciation: , Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingu ...

Chongqing
and
Hubei Hubei (; ; alternately Hupeh) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity ...

Hubei
to create the famous
Three Gorges The Three Gorges () are three adjacent gorges along the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, in the hinterland of the People's Republic of China. With a subtropical monsoon climate, they are known for their scenery. The "Three Gorges Scenic A ...
. Eastward of the Three Gorges,
Yichang Yichang (), Postal Map Romanization, alternatively romanized as Ichang, is a prefecture-level city located in western Hubei province, China. It is the third largest city in the province after the capital, Wuhan and the prefecture-level city Xiang ...

Yichang
is the first city on the
Yangtze PlainThe Yangtze Plain (Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populo ...
. After entering Hubei province, the Yangtze receives water from a number of lakes. The largest of these lakes is
Dongting Lake Dongting Lake () is a large, shallow lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a Depression (geology), basin, surrounded by land, and set apart from any river or other outlet that serves to feed or drain the lake. Lakes lie o ...
, which is located on the border of
Hunan Hunan (, ; ) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdi ...

Hunan
and Hubei provinces, and is the outlet for most of the rivers in Hunan. At
Wuhan Wuhan (, ; ; ) is the capital of Hubei Province Hubei (; ; Postal romanization, alternately Hupeh) is a landlocked provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, and is part of the Central China region. The name ...

Wuhan
, it receives its biggest tributary, the
Han RiverHan River may refer to: *Han River (Guangdong) (''Han-jiang'', 韩江), southeast China, flows into the South China Sea *Han River (Hubei) (''Han-shui'', 漢水 or ''Han-jiang'', 漢江), the longest tributary of the Yangtze, China *Han River (Korea ...
, bringing water from its northern basin as far as
Shaanxi Shaanxi (; , ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately Shensi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Officially part of Northwest China, it borders the province-level divisions of Shanxi (NE, ...

Shaanxi
. At the northern tip of Jiangxi province,
Lake Poyang Poyang Lake (, Gan: Po-yong U), located in Jiangxi Province, is the largest freshwater Fresh water (or freshwater) is any naturally occurring water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transp ...
, the biggest freshwater lake in China, merges into the river. The river then runs through
Anhui Anhui (; Postal romanization, formerly romanized as Anhwei) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, part of the East China region. Its provincial capital and largest city is Hefei. The province is l ...

Anhui
and
Jiangsu Jiangsu (; ; Postal romanization, formerly romanized Kiangsu) is an eastern-central coastal Provinces of the People's Republic of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. It is one of the leading provinces in finance, education, ...

Jiangsu
, receiving more water from innumerable smaller lakes and rivers, and finally reaches the
East China Sea The East China Sea is an arm of the Western Pacific Ocean, located directly offshore from East China (hence the name), covering an area of roughly . Its northern extension between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula Korea is a regi ...

East China Sea
at Shanghai. 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 Hukou County () is a county under the administration of Jiujiang City, in the north of Jiangxi Province, China, bordering Anhui province to the north. The total area is , and the population is 285,242 as of 2007. Administrative divisions Hukou Co ...
, where
Lake Poyang Poyang Lake (, Gan: Po-yong U), located in Jiangxi Province, is the largest freshwater Fresh water (or freshwater) is any naturally occurring water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transp ...
meets the river; the downstream part is from Hukou to Shanghai. The origin of the Yangtze River has been dated by some geologists to about 45 million years ago in the
Eocene The Eocene ( ) Epoch is a geological epoch In chronology 222px, Joseph Scaliger's ''De emendatione temporum'' (1583) began the modern science of chronology Chronology (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the ...
, but this dating has been disputed.


Image gallery

File:长江源头.jpg, The glaciers of the
Tanggula Mountains The Tanggula ( Chinese: , p ''Tánggǔlāshān'', or , p ''Tánggǔlāshānmài''), Tangla, Tanglha, or Dangla Mountains ( Tibetan: , w ''Gdang La'', z ''Dang La'') are a mountain range in the central part of the ...
, the traditional source of the Yangtze River File:Yangtze at First Bridge.jpg, The Tuotuo River, a headwater stream of the Yangtze River, known in Tibetan as Maqu, or the "Red River" File:1 changjiang yangtze aerial pano first turn shigu 2018.jpg, The first turn of the Yangtze at Shigu (石鼓) in
Yunnan Yunnan () is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in Southwest China, the southwest of the People's Republic of China. The province spans approximately and has a population of 48.3 million (as of 2018). The capital of the province is Ku ...

Yunnan
, where the river turns 180 degrees from south- to north-bound File:Hutiaoxia.jpg, Narrowest point of the
Tiger Leaping Gorge Tiger Leaping Gorge () is a scenic canyon A canyon (; archaic British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in Histo ...

Tiger Leaping Gorge
near
Lijiang Lijiang (), also known as Likiang, is a prefecture-level city A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply " Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still from the Huangshi main urban area. A ...

Lijiang
downstream from Shigu File:Jinshajiang River Ravine - 32229429768.jpg, The Jinsha, "Golden Sands River", in Yunnan File:Qutang Gorge on Changjiang.jpg, Qutang Gorge, one of the Three Gorges File:Wu Gorge on Yangtze.jpg, Wu Gorge, one of the Three Gorges File:Xiling Gorge along Yangtze.jpg, Xiling Gorge, one of the Three Gorges


Characteristics

The Yangtze flows into the
East China Sea The East China Sea is an arm of the Western Pacific Ocean, located directly offshore from East China (hence the name), covering an area of roughly . Its northern extension between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula Korea is a regi ...

East China Sea
and was navigable by ocean-going vessels up from its mouth even before the Three Gorges Dam was built. 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 The Three Gorges () are three adjacent gorges along the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, in the hinterland of the People's Republic of China. With a subtropical monsoon climate, they are known for their scenery. The "Three Gorges Scenic A ...
area, are becoming popular as the tourism industry grows in China. Flooding along the river has been a major problem. The
rainy season The wet season (sometimes called the rainy season) is the time of year when most of a region's average annual rainfall occurs. Generally, the season lasts at least a month. The term ''green season'' is also sometimes used as a euphemism by tour ...
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 The 1998 China floods (1998年中国洪水) lasted from middle of June to the beginning of September 1998 in China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencie ...
, but more disastrous were the 1954 Yangtze River Floods, which killed around 30,000 people.


History


Geologic history

Although the mouth of the
Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin: uə xɔ Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is ...
has fluctuated widely north and south of the
Shandong peninsula The Shandong Peninsula or Jiaodong Peninsula is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The su ...
within the historical record, the Yangtze has remained largely static. Based on studies of sedimentation rates, however, it is unlikely that the present discharge site predates the
late Miocene The Late Miocene (also known as Upper Miocene) is a sub-epoch of the Miocene epoch (geology), Epoch made up of two faunal stage, stages. The Tortonian and Messinian stages comprise the Late Miocene sub-epoch, which lasted from 11.63 Ma (million ye ...
( Ma). Prior to this, its headwaters drained south into the
Gulf of Tonkin The Gulf of Tonkin ( vi, Vịnh Bắc Bộ, ; formerly known as or during the ROC period) is a gulf A gulf is a large inlet from the ocean into the landmass, typically with a narrower opening than a bay (geography), bay, but that is n ...

Gulf of Tonkin
along or near the course of the present Red River.


Early history

The Yangtze River is important to the cultural origins of
southern China Northern China () and Southern China () are two approximate regions within China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is ...
and Japan. Human activity has been verified in the
Three Gorges The Three Gorges () are three adjacent gorges along the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, in the hinterland of the People's Republic of China. With a subtropical monsoon climate, they are known for their scenery. The "Three Gorges Scenic A ...
area as far back as 27,000 years ago, and by the 5th millennium BC, the lower Yangtze was a major population center occupied by the
Hemudu The Hemudu culture (5500 BC to 3300 BC) was a Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. It is first ...
and
Majiabang culture The Majiabang culture was a Chinese Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. It is first seen about ...
s, both among the earliest cultivators of rice. By the 3rd millennium  BC, the successor
Liangzhu culture The Liangzhu culture (; 3300–2300 BC) was the last Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. It is f ...
showed evidence of influence from the Longshan peoples of the
North China Plain 200px, The North China Plain is shown in dark. The Yellow River is shown as "Río Amarillo". The North China Plain () is a large-scale downfaulted rift basin formed in the late Paleogene The Paleogene ( ; also spelled Palaeogene or Palæogene; ...
. What is now thought of as
Chinese culture Chinese culture () is one of the world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago. The culture prevails across a large geographical region in East Asia and is extremely diverse and varying, with customs and traditions varying grea ...
developed along the more fertile
Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin: uə xɔ Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is ...
basin; the "" people of the lower Yangtze possessed very different traditions blackening their teeth, cutting their hair ,
tattooing A tattoo is a form of body modification Body modification (or body alteration) is the deliberate altering of the human anatomy The human body is the structure of a human being. It is composed of many different types of cells that tog ...

tattooing
their bodies, and living in small settlements among bamboo grovesHutcheon, Robin. ''China-Yellow'', p. 4. Chinese University Press, 1996. . and were considered
barbarous Barbarism, barbarity, or barbarous may refer to: * Barbarism (linguistics) A barbarism is a nonstandard word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with se ...
by the northerners. The Central Yangtze valley was home to sophisticated
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
cultures. Later it became the earliest part of the Yangtze valley to be integrated into the North Chinese cultural sphere. (Northern Chinese were active there since the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age sys ...
). In the lower Yangtze, two tribes, the '' Gouwu'' in southern
Jiangsu Jiangsu (; ; Postal romanization, formerly romanized Kiangsu) is an eastern-central coastal Provinces of the People's Republic of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. It is one of the leading provinces in finance, education, ...

Jiangsu
and the ''
Yuyue Yue (, Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a co ...
'' in northern
Zhejiang Zhejiang (, ; , Chinese postal romanization, also romanized as Chekiang) is an East China, eastern, coastal Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Its capital and largest city is Hangzhou. Zhejiang is bordered ...

Zhejiang
, display increasing Zhou (i.e., North Chinese) influence starting in the 9th century BC. Traditional accounts credit these changes to northern refugees (
Taibo Taibo ()(circa 1150 BCE) or Wu Taibo was the eldest son of King Tai of ZhouKing Tai of Zhou () or Gugong Danfu () was a great leader of the predynastic Zhou, Zhou clan during the Shang dynasty. His great-grandson King Wu of Zhou, Fa would later c ...
and Zhongyong in Wu and Wuyi in Yue) who assumed power over the local tribes, though these are generally assumed to be myths invented to legitimate them to other Zhou rulers. As the kingdoms of Wu and Yue, they were famed as fishers, shipwrights, and sword-smiths. Adopting
Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it ...
, political institutions, and military technology, they were among the most powerful
states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
during the later
ZhouZhou may refer to: Chinese history * King Zhou of Shang () (1105 BC–1046 BC), the last king of the Shang dynasty * Predynastic Zhou (), 11th-century BC precursor to the Zhou dynasty * Zhou dynasty () (1046 BC–256 BC), a dynasty of China ** Weste ...
. In the middle Yangtze, the state of Jing seems to have begun in the upper Han River valley a minor Zhou polity, but it adapted to native culture as it expanded south and east into the Yangtze valley. In the process, it changed its name to state of Chu, Chu. Whether native or nativizing, the Yangtze states held their own against the northern Chinese homeland: some lists credit them with three of the Spring and Autumn period's Five Hegemons and one of the Warring States' Four Lords of the Warring States, Four Lords. They fell in against themselves, however. Chu's growing power led its rival Jin (Chinese state), Jin to support Wu as a counter. Wu successfully sacked Chu's capital Ying (Chu), Ying in 506 BC, but Chu subsequently supported Yue in its attacks against Wu's southern flank. In 473 BC, King Goujian of Yue fully annexed Wu and moved his court to its Wu (city), eponymous capital at modern Suzhou. In 333 BC, Chu finally united the lower Yangtze by annexing Yue, whose royal family was said to have fled south and established the Minyue kingdom in Fujian. state of Qin, Qin was able to unite China by first subduing state of Ba, Ba and state of Shu, Shu on the upper Yangtze in modern
Sichuan Sichuan (; , ; alternatively romanized as Szechuan or Szechwan) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admini ...

Sichuan
, giving them a strong base to attack Chu's settlements along the river. The state of Qin conquered the central Yangtze region, previous heartland of Chu, in 278 BC, and incorporated the region into its expanding empire. Qin then used its connections along the Yangtze River the Xiang River to expand China into
Hunan Hunan (, ; ) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdi ...

Hunan
, Jiangxi and Guangdong, setting up military commanderies along the main lines of communication. At the collapse of the Qin Dynasty, these southern commanderies became the independent Nanyue Empire under Zhao Tuo while Chu and Han Chu-Han Contention, vied with each other for control of the north. Since the
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
, the region of the Yangtze River grew ever more important to China's economy. The establishment of irrigation systems (the most famous one is Dujiangyan Irrigation System, Dujiangyan, northwest of Chengdu, built during the Warring States period) made agriculture very stable and productive, eventually exceeding even the
Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin: uə xɔ Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is ...
region. The Qin and Han empires were actively engaged in the agricultural colonization of the Yangtze lowlands, maintaining a system of dikes to protect farmland from seasonal floods. 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 (that includes the southern part of
Jiangsu Jiangsu (; ; Postal romanization, formerly romanized Kiangsu) is an eastern-central coastal Provinces of the People's Republic of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. It is one of the leading provinces in finance, education, ...

Jiangsu
, the northern part of
Zhejiang Zhejiang (, ; , Chinese postal romanization, also romanized as Chekiang) is an East China, eastern, coastal Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Its capital and largest city is Hangzhou. Zhejiang is bordered ...

Zhejiang
, and the southeastern part of
Anhui Anhui (; Postal romanization, formerly romanized as Anhwei) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, part of the East China region. Its provincial capital and largest city is Hefei. The province is l ...

Anhui
) provided – 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 (China), Grand Canal connects the lower Yangtze with the major cities of the Jiangnan region south of the river (Wuxi, Suzhou, Hangzhou) and with northern China (all the way from Yangzhou to Beijing). The less well known ancient Lingqu Canal, connecting the upper Xiang River with the headwaters of the Guijiang, allowed a direct water connection from the Yangtze Basin to the Pearl River Delta. Historically, the Yangtze became the political boundary between north China and south China several times (see History of China) because of the difficulty of crossing the river. This occurred notably during the Southern and Northern Dynasties, and the Southern Song. Many battles took place along the river, the most famous being the Battle of Red Cliffs in 208 AD during the
Three Kingdoms The Three Kingdoms () from 220 to 280 AD was the tripartite division of China among the states of Cao Wei, Wei, Shu Han, Shu, and Eastern Wu, Wu. The Three Kingdoms period started with the End of the Han dynasty, end of the Han dynasty#East ...

Three Kingdoms
period. The Yangtze was the site of naval battles between the
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kua ...
and Jurchen people, Jurchen Jin dynasty (1115-1234), Jin during the Jin–Song wars. In the Battle of Caishi of 1161, the ships of the Jin emperor Wanyan Liang clashed with the Naval history of China, Song fleet on the Yangtze. Song soldiers fired bombs of Lime (material), lime and sulfur using trebuchets at the Jurchen warships. The battle was a Song victory that halted the invasion by the Jin. The Battle of Tangdao was another Yangtze naval battle in the same year. 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 Eastern Wu, 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 dynasty, Ming occupied most parts of China from their capital at Nanjing, though it later moved the capital to Beijing. The Republic of China (1912–1949), ROC capital was located in Nanjing in the periods 1911–12, 1927–37, and 1945–49.


Age of steam

The first merchant steamer in Qing dynasty, China, the ''Jardine'', was built to order for the firm of Jardine Matheson Holdings, Jardine, Matheson & Co. in 1835. She was a small vessel intended for use as a mail and passenger carrier between Lintin Island, Portuguese Macau, Macao, and Huangpu District, Guangzhou, Whampoa. However, the Chinese, draconian in their application of the rules relating to foreign vessels, were unhappy about a "fire-ship" steaming up the Canton River. The acting Governor-General of Kwangtung issued an edict warning that she would be fired on if she attempted the trip. On the ''Jardine's'' first trial run from Lintin Island the forts on both sides of the Bocca Tigris, Bogue opened fire and she was forced to turn back. The Chinese authorities issued a further warning insisting that the ship leave Chinese waters. The ''Jardine'' in any case needed repairs and was sent to Singapore.
Subsequently, Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, Lord Palmerston, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Foreign Secretary decided mainly on the "suggestions" of William Jardine (merchant), William Jardine to declare war on China. In mid-1840, a large fleet of warships appeared on the China coast, and with the first cannonball fired at a British ship, the ''Royal Saxon'', the British started the First Opium War, first of the Opium Wars. Royal Navy warships destroyed numerous shore batteries and Chinese warships, laying waste to several coastal forts along the way. Eventually, they pushed their way up north close enough to threaten the Forbidden City, Imperial Palace in Beijing, Peking itself. The Chinese imperial government quickly gave in to the demands of the British. British military superiority was clearly evident during the conflict. British warships, constructed using such innovations as steam power combined with sail and the use of iron in shipbuilding, wreaked havoc on Chinese junks; 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 Dynasty, Qing forces. After the British captured Guangzhou, Canton, they sailed up the Yangtze and seized the tax barges, a significant blow to the Imperial government 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 Nanking signed on a warship 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 treaty ports to all foreign nations, and cede British Hong Kong, Hong Kong to Victoria of the United Kingdom, Queen Victoria. In the supplementary Treaty of the Bogue, the Qing Empire also recognized Britain as an equal to China and gave British subjects extraterritorial privileges in treaty ports. The China Navigation Company was an early shipping company founded in 1876 in London, 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 was initiated.


U.S. and French conflicts

The US, at the same time, wanting to protect its interests and expand trade, ventured the six hundred miles up the river to Hankou District, Hankow sometime in the 1860s, while the , a sidewheeler, made her way up the river to
Yichang Yichang (), Postal Map Romanization, alternatively romanized as Ichang, is a prefecture-level city located in western Hubei province, China. It is the third largest city in the province after the capital, Wuhan and the prefecture-level city Xiang ...

Yichang
in 1874. The first , a sidewheel gunboat, began charting the Yangtze River in 1871. The first , an armed tug, was on Asiatic Squadron, Asiatic Station 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 Hankou, 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, Europeans put more steamers on the river. The French engaged the Chinese in war over the rule of Vietnam. The Sino-French Wars of the 1880s emerged with the Battle of Shipu having French cruisers in the lower Yangtze. The China Navigation Company was an early shipping company founded in 1876 in London, 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 was initiated. Most of the company's ships were seized by Japan in 1941 and services did not resume until 1946. Robert Dollar was a later shipping magnate, who became enormously influential moving Californian and Canadian lumber to the Chinese and Japanese market.
Yichang Yichang (), Postal Map Romanization, alternatively romanized as Ichang, is a prefecture-level city located in western Hubei province, China. It is the third largest city in the province after the capital, Wuhan and the prefecture-level city Xiang ...

Yichang
, or Ichang, from the sea, is the head of navigation for river steamers; oceangoing vessels may navigate the river to Hankow, a distance of almost from the sea. For about 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, which fell prey to the French fleet. The Chinese would rebuild its fleet, only to be ravaged by another war with First Sino-Japanese War, Japan (1895), Xinhai Revolution, Revolution (1911) 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 section stretching from Yichang to Chongqing. Freshets from Himalayan snowmelt created treacherous seasonal currents. But summer was better navigationally and the three gorges, described as an "150-mile passage which is like the narrow throat of an hourglass," posed hazardous threats of crosscurrents, whirlpools and eddies, creating significant challenges to steamship efforts. Furthermore, Chongqing is 700 – 800 feet above sea level, requiring powerful engines to make the upriver climb. Junk travel accomplished the upriver feat by employing 70–80 trackers, men hitched to hawsers who physically pulled ships upriver through some of the most risky and deadly sections of the three gorges. Achibald John Little took an interest in Upper Yangtze navigation when in 1876, the Chefoo Convention opened Chongqing to consular residence but stipulated that foreign trade might only commence once steamships had succeeded in ascending the river to that point. Little formed the Upper Yangtze Steam Navigation Co., Ltd. and built ''Kuling'' but his attempts to take the vessel further upriver than Yichang were thwarted by the Chinese authorities who were concerned about the potential loss of transit duties, competition to their native junk trade and physical damage to their crafts caused by steamship wakes. ''Kuling'' was sold to China Merchants Steam Navigation Company for lower river service. In 1890, the Chinese government agreed to open Chongqing to foreign trade as long as it was restricted to native crafts. In 1895, the Treaty of Shimonoseki provided a provision which opened Chongqing fully to foreign trade. Little took up residence in Chongqing and built ''Leechuan'', to tackle the gorges in 1898. In March ''Leechuan'' completed the upriver journey to Chongqing but not without the assistance of trackers. ''Leechuan'' was not designed for cargo or passengers and if Little wanted to take his vision one step further, he required an expert pilot. In 1898, Little persuaded Captain Samuel Cornell Plant to come out to China to lend his expertise. Captain Plant had just completed navigation of Iran, Persia's Upper Karun River and took up Little's offer to assess the Upper Yangtze on ''Leechuan'' at the end of 1898. With Plant's design input, Little had SS ''Pioneer'' built with Plant in command. In June 1900, Plant was the first to successfully pilot a merchant steamer on the Upper Yangtze from Yichang to Chongqing. ''Pioneer'' was sold to Royal Navy after its first run due to threat from the Boxer Rebellion and renamed HMS ''Kinsha''. Germany's steamship effort that same year on SS ''Suixing'' ended in catastrophe. On ''Suixing's'' maiden voyage, the vessel hit a rock and sunk, killing its captain and ending realistic hopes of regular commercial steam service on the Upper Yangtze. In 1908, local Sichuan merchants and their government partnered with Captain Plant to form Sichuan Steam Navigation Company becoming the first successful service between Yichang and Chongqing. Captain Plant designed and commanded its two ships, SS ''Shutung'' and SS ''Shuhun''. Other Chinese vessels came onto the run and by 1915, foreign ships expressed their interest too. Plant was appointed by Chinese Maritime Customs Service as First Senior River Inspector in 1915. In this role, Plant installed navigational marks and established signaling systems. He also wrote ''Handbook for the Guidance of Shipmasters on the Ichang-Chungking Section of the Yangtze River'', a detailed and illustrated account of the Upper Yangtze's currents, rocks, and other hazards with navigational instruction. Plant trained hundreds of Chinese and foreign pilots and issued licenses and worked with the Chinese government to make the river safer in 1917 by removing some of the most difficult obstacles and threats with explosives. In August 1917, British Asiatic Petroleum became the first foreign merchant steamship on the Upper Yangtze. Commercial firms, Robert Dollar Company, Jardine Matheson, Butterfield and Swire and Standard Oil added their own steamers on the river between 1917 and 1919. Between 1918 and 1919, Sichuan warlord violence and escalating civil war put Sichuan Steam Navigational Company out of business. ''Shutung'' was commandeered by warlords and ''Shuhun'' was brought down river to Shanghai for safekeeping. In 1921, when Captain Plant died tragically at sea while returning home to England, a Plant Memorial Fund was established to perpetuate Plant's name and contributions to Upper Yangtze navigation. The largest shipping companies in service, Butterfield & Swire, Jardine Matheson, Standard Oil, Mackenzie & Co., Asiatic Petroleum, Robert Dollar, China Merchants S.N. Co. and British-American Tobacco Co., contributed alongside international friends and Chinese pilots. In 1924, a 50-foot granite pyramidal obelisk was erected in Xintan, on the site of Captain Plant's home, in a Chinese community of pilots and junk owners. One face of the monument is inscribed in Chinese and another in English. Though recently relocated to higher ground ahead of the Three Gorges Dam, the monument still stands overlooking the Upper Yangtze River near Yichang, a rare collective tribute to a westerner in China. Until 1881, the India 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 Matheson, Jardine company pushed inland up the Yangtsze River on which a specially designed fleet was built to meet all requirements of the river trade. Jardine's established an enviable reputation for the efficient handling of shipping. As a result, the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company invited the firm to attend to the Agency of their Shire Line, which operated in the Far East. Standard Oil ran the tankers Mei Ping, Mei An and Mei Hsia, which were collectively 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 Great power, European powers and Japan were allowed to sail navy ships into China's waters. The British, Americans, and French did this. A full international fleet featured on Chinese waters: Austria-Hungary, Austro-Hungarian, Kingdom of Portugal, Portuguese, Kingdom of Italy, Italian, Russian Empire, Russian and German Empire, German navy ships came to Shanghai and the treaty ports. The Japanese engaged in open warfare with the Chinese over conquest of the Chinese Qing Empire in the First Sino-Japanese War in 1894–1895, and with Russia over Qing Empire territory in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905. Incidentally, both the French Navy, French and Imperial Japanese Navy, Japanese navies were heavily involved in running opium and narcotics to Shanghai, where it was refined into morphine. It was then transhipped by liner back to Marseille and France (i.e. French Connection) for processing in German Empire, Germany and eventual sale in the U.S. or Europe. In 1909 the gunboat 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 July 1, 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 District, 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 warlords 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 boats were replaced in the 1920s by and were the largest, and next in size, and and 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 Nanking incident of 1927 when the Chinese Communist Party, Communists and National Revolutionary Army, Nationalists broke into open war. The Chiang Kai-shek's Shanghai massacre of 1927, massacre of the Communists in Shanghai in 1927 furthered the unrest, United States Marine Corps, U.S. 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 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 Chongqing, 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 Royal Navy had a series of Insect-class gunboats which patrolled between Chungking and Shanghai. Cruisers and destroyers and Fly-class gunboats also patrolled. The most infamous incident was when ''Panay'' and in 1937, were Dive bomber, divebombed by Imperial Japanese Army Air Service, Japanese airplanes during the notorious Nanking massacre. Westerners were forced to leave areas neighboring the Yangtze 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 in 1949 during the Chinese Civil War between Kuomintang and People's Liberation Army forces; and led to the award of the Dickin Medal to the ship's cat Simon (cat), Simon.


Contemporary events

In August 2019, Welsh adventurer Ash Dykes became the first person to complete the 4,000-mile (6,437 km) trek along the course of the river, walking for 352 days from its source to its mouth.


Hydrology


Periodic floods

Tens of millions of people live in the floodplain of the Yangtze valley, an area that naturally floods every summer and is habitable only because it is protected by river dikes. The floods large enough to overflow the dikes have caused great distress to those who live and farm there. Floods of note include those of 1931, 1954, and 1998. The 1931 China floods, 1931 Central China floods or the Central China floods of 1931 were a series of floods that occurred in the Republic of China. The floods are generally considered among the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded, and almost certainly the deadliest of the 20th century (when pandemics and famines are discounted). Estimates of the total death toll range from 145,000 to between 3.7 million and 4 million. The Yangtze again flooded in 1935 Yangtze flood, 1935, causing great loss of life. From June to September 1954, the 1954 Yangtze River floods, 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 1954, the river started to rise above its usual level in around late June. Despite efforts to open three important flood gates to alleviate the rising water by diverting it, the flood level continued to rise until it hit the historic high of 44.67 m in Jingzhou, Hubei and 29.73 m in Wuhan. The number of dead from this flood was estimated at around 33,000, including those who died of plague in the aftermath of the disaster. The 1998 Yangtze River floods were a series of major floods that lasted from middle of June to the beginning of September 1998 along the Yangtze. In the summer of 1998, China experienced massive flooding of parts of the Yangtze River, resulting in 3,704 dead, 15 million homeless and $26 billion in economic loss. Other sources report a total loss of 4150 people, and 180 million people were affected. A staggering were evacuated, 13.3 million houses were damaged or destroyed. The floods caused $26 billion in damages.Spignesi, Stephen J. [2004] (2004). Catastrophe!: the 100 greatest disasters of all time. Citadel Press. . p 37. The 2016 China floods caused US$22 billion in damages.


Degradation of the river

Beginning in the 1950s, dams and dikes were built for flood control, land reclamation, irrigation, and control of diseases vectors such as blood flukes that caused Schistosomiasis. More than a hundred lakes were thusly cut off from the main river. There were gates between the lakes that could be opened during floods. However, farmers and settlements encroached on the land next to the lakes although it was forbidden to settle there. When floods came, it proved impossible to open the gates since it would have caused substantial destruction. Thus the lakes partially or completely dried up. For example, Baidang Lake shrunk from in the 1950s to in 2005. Zhangdu Lake dwindled to one quarter of its original size. Natural fisheries output in the two lakes declined sharply. Only a few large lakes, such as Poyang Lake and
Dongting Lake Dongting Lake () is a large, shallow lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a Depression (geology), basin, surrounded by land, and set apart from any river or other outlet that serves to feed or drain the lake. Lakes lie o ...
, 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 who thrived in Eutrophication, 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. In September 2012, the Yangtze river near Chongqing turned red from pollution. The erection of the Three Gorges Dam has created an impassable "iron barrier" that has led to a great reduction in the biodiversity of the river. Yangtze sturgeon use seasonal changes in the flow of the river to signal when is it time to migrate. However, these seasonal changes will be greatly reduced by dams and diversions. Other animals facing immediate threat of extinction are the baiji dolphin,
narrow-ridged finless porpoise The narrow-ridged finless porpoise (''Neophocaena asiaeorientalis'') is a newly accepted species, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature International is an adjective (also used as a noun) meaning "between nations". International m ...
and the Yangtze alligator. These animals numbers went into freefall from the combined effects of accidental catches during fishing, river traffic, habitat loss and pollution. In 2006 the baiji dolphin became extinct; the world lost an entire genus. In 2020, a sweeping law was passed by the Chinese government to protect the ecology of the river. The new laws include strengthening ecological protection rules for hydropower projects along the river, banning chemical plants within 1 kilometer of the river, relocating polluting industries, severely restricting sand mining as well as a complete fishing ban on all the natural waterways of the river, including all its major tributaries and lakes.


Contribution to ocean pollution

The Yangtze River produces more marine plastic pollution, ocean plastic pollution than any other, according to The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch environmental research foundation that focuses on marine pollution, ocean pollution. Together with 9 other rivers, the Yangtze transports 90% of all the plastic that reaches the oceans.


Reconnecting lakes

In 2002 a pilot program was initiated to reconnect lakes to the Yangtze 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 on the middle Yangtze. In 2005 Baidang Lake in
Anhui Anhui (; Postal romanization, formerly romanized as Anhwei) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, part of the East China region. Its provincial capital and largest city is Hefei. The province is l ...

Anhui
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 Yangtze River with its lakes. As of 2010, provincial governments in five provinces and Shanghai set up a network of 40 effective protected areas, covering . 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 . The mayor of
Wuhan Wuhan (, ; ; ) is the capital of Hubei Province Hubei (; ; Postal romanization, alternately Hupeh) is a landlocked provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, and is part of the Central China region. The name ...

Wuhan
announced that six huge, stagnating urban lakes including the East Lake (Wuhan) would be reconnected at the cost of US$2.3 billion creating China's largest urban wetland landscape.WWF UK Case Study 2011 / HSBC:Safeguarding the Yangtze. Celebrating 10 years of conservation success.


Major cities along the river

* Yushu * Panzhihua *
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Yibin
* Luzhou * Hejiang County, Hejiang *
Chongqing Chongqing ( ; ; Sichuanese pronunciation: , Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingu ...

Chongqing
* Fuling * Fengdu * Wanzhou District, Wanzhou *
Yichang Yichang (), Postal Map Romanization, alternatively romanized as Ichang, is a prefecture-level city located in western Hubei province, China. It is the third largest city in the province after the capital, Wuhan and the prefecture-level city Xiang ...

Yichang
* Yidu, Hubei, Yidu * Jingzhou * Shashi District, Shashi * Shishou * Yueyang * Xianning *
Wuhan Wuhan (, ; ; ) is the capital of Hubei Province Hubei (; ; Postal romanization, alternately Hupeh) is a landlocked provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, and is part of the Central China region. The name ...

Wuhan
* Ezhou * Huangshi * Huanggang, Hubei, Huanggang * Chaohu City, Chaohu * Chizhou *
Jiujiang Jiujiang (), formerly transliterated Kiukiang or Kew Keang, is a prefecture-level city A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply " Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still from the Huangshi m ...

Jiujiang
* Anqing * Tongling * Wuhu City, Wuhu * Chuzhou * Ma'anshan * Taizhou, Jiangsu, Taizhou * Yangzhou * Zhenjiang * Nanjing * Changzhou * Nantong * Shanghai


Crossings

Until 1957, there were no bridges across the Yangtze River from
Yibin Yibin (; Sichuanese Pinyin: nyi2bin1; Sichuanese pronunciation: ) is a prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply "Huangshi" (). This is a useful ...

Yibin
to Shanghai. For millennia, travelers crossed the river by ferry. On occasions, the crossing may have been dangerous, as evidenced by the ''Zhong'anlun Monument, Zhong'anlun'' disaster (October 15, 1945). 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 District, Hanyang and Pukou, and cross the river by steam ferry before resuming journeys by train from Wuchang Railway Station, Wuchang or Nanjing West Railway Station, Nanjing West. After the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, Soviet engineers assisted in the design and construction of the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge, a dual-use list of road-rail bridges, road-rail bridge, built from 1955 to 1957. It was the first bridge across the Yangtze River. The second bridge across the river that was built was a single-track railway bridge built upstream in Chongqing in 1959. The Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, also a road-rail bridge, was the first bridge to cross the lower reaches of the Yangtze, in Nanjing. It was built after the Sino-Soviet Split and did not receive foreign assistance. Road-rail bridges were then built in Zhicheng (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 was built in 1992 as part of the Jingjiu railway, Beijing-Jiujiang Railway. A Second Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge, second bridge in Wuhan 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 bridge, suspension and cable-stayed bridges in the world on the Yangtze Delta: Jiangyin Suspension Bridge (1,385 m, opened in 1999), Runyang Bridge (1,490 m, opened 2005), Sutong Bridge (1,088 m, 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 Yangtze River power line crossings, power line crossings have also been built across the river. File:Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge-1.jpg, Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge, the first bridge crossing Yangtze, was completed in 1957. File:First Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge.JPG, The Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, a beam bridge, was completed in 1968. File:Jiujiang Yangtze River Bridge.jpg, The Jiujiang Yangtze River Bridge, an arch bridge, was completed in 1992. File:Yichang Yangtze Highway Bridge.JPG, The Yichang Bridge, Yichang Yangtze Highway Bridge, a suspension bridge near the Gezhouba Dam lock, was completed in 1996. File:Sutong Yangtze River Bridge.JPG, The Sutong Bridge, Sutong Yangtze River Bridge, between Nantong and Suzhou, was one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world when it was completed in 2008. File:Caiyuanba bridge.jpg, The Caiyuanba Bridge, an arch bridge in Chongqing, was completed in 2007. File:Bridge on the Yangtze River in Anqing Anhui China-2.jpg, The cable-stayed Anqing Yangtze River Bridge at Anqing, was completed in 2005. File:Route Map of Wuhan Metro Line 2.svg, Line 2 (Wuhan Metro), Wuhan Metro Line 2 is the first underground rail line crossing the Yangtze River.


Dams

As of 2007, there are two dams built on the Yangtze river:
Three Gorges Dam The Three Gorges Dam is a that spans the by the town of , in , , province, central , downstream of the . The Three Gorges Dam has been the in terms of (22,500 ) since 2012. The dam generates an average 95±20 TWh of electricity per ...

Three Gorges Dam
and Gezhouba Dam. The Three Gorges Dam is the List of largest power stations, largest power station in the world by installed capacity, at 22.5 GW. Several dams are operating or are being constructed on the upper portion of the river, the
Jinsha River The Jinsha River (Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most popu ...
. Among them, the Xiluodu Dam is the third largest power station in the world, and the Baihetan Dam, planned to be commissioned in 2021, will be the second largest after the Three Gorges Dam.


Tributaries

The Yangtze River has over 700 Tributary, tributaries. The major tributaries (listed from upstream to downstream) with the locations of where they join the Yangtze are: * Yalong River (Panzhihua, Sichuan) * Min River (
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Yibin
, Sichuan) * Tuo River (Luzhou, Sichuan) * Chishui River (Southwest China), Chishui River (Hejiang County, Hejiang, Sichuan) * Jialing River (
Chongqing Chongqing ( ; ; Sichuanese pronunciation: , Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingu ...

Chongqing
) * Wu River (Yangtze River tributary), Wu River (Fuling, Chongqing) * Qing River (Yidu, Hubei, Yidu, Hubei) * Yuan River (via
Dongting Lake Dongting Lake () is a large, shallow lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a Depression (geology), basin, surrounded by land, and set apart from any river or other outlet that serves to feed or drain the lake. Lakes lie o ...
) * Lishui River (via
Dongting Lake Dongting Lake () is a large, shallow lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a Depression (geology), basin, surrounded by land, and set apart from any river or other outlet that serves to feed or drain the lake. Lakes lie o ...
) * Zi River (via
Dongting Lake Dongting Lake () is a large, shallow lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a Depression (geology), basin, surrounded by land, and set apart from any river or other outlet that serves to feed or drain the lake. Lakes lie o ...
) * Xiang River (Yueyang, Hunan) *
Han RiverHan River may refer to: *Han River (Guangdong) (''Han-jiang'', 韩江), southeast China, flows into the South China Sea *Han River (Hubei) (''Han-shui'', 漢水 or ''Han-jiang'', 漢江), the longest tributary of the Yangtze, China *Han River (Korea ...
(
Wuhan Wuhan (, ; ; ) is the capital of Hubei Province Hubei (; ; Postal romanization, alternately Hupeh) is a landlocked provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, and is part of the Central China region. The name ...

Wuhan
, Hubei) * Gan River (near
Jiujiang Jiujiang (), formerly transliterated Kiukiang or Kew Keang, is a prefecture-level city A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply " Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still from the Huangshi m ...

Jiujiang
, Jiangxi) * Shuiyang River (Dangtu, Anhui) * Qingyi River (Anhui), Qingyi River (Wuhu, Anhui) * Chao Lake water system (Chaohu, Anhui) * Lake Tai water system (Shanghai) The Huai River flowed into the Yellow Sea until the 20th century, but now primarily discharges into the Yangtze. File:Ganrivermap.png, Gan River in Jiangxi File:Hanshuirivermap.png,
Han RiverHan River may refer to: *Han River (Guangdong) (''Han-jiang'', 韩江), southeast China, flows into the South China Sea *Han River (Hubei) (''Han-shui'', 漢水 or ''Han-jiang'', 漢江), the longest tributary of the Yangtze, China *Han River (Korea ...
in Hubei File:Dongtingriversmap.png, Lake Dongting and the Yuan River, Yuan, Zi River, Zi, Lishui River, Li, and Xiang River, Xiang Rivers in
Hunan Hunan (, ; ) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdi ...

Hunan
File:Wujiangrivermap.png, Wu River (Yangtze River tributary), Wu River in Guizhou File:Jialingrivermap.png, Jialing River in eastern
Sichuan Sichuan (; , ; alternatively romanized as Szechuan or Szechwan) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admini ...

Sichuan
and
Chongqing Chongqing ( ; ; Sichuanese pronunciation: , Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingu ...

Chongqing
Municipality File:Min sichuan rivermap.png, Min River in central Sichuan File:Yalongrivermap.png, Yalong River in western Sichuan


Protected areas

* Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve, Sanjiangyuan ("Three Rivers' Sources") National Nature Reserve in Qinghai * Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan


Wildlife

The Yangtze River has a high species richness, including many Endemism, endemics. A high percentage of these are seriously threatened by human activities.Ye, S.; Li, Z.; Liu, J;, Zhang, T.; and Xie, S. (2011). ''Distribution, Endemism and Conservation Status of Fishes in the Yangtze River Basin, China.'' pp. 41–66 in: Ecosystems Biodiversity, InTech. .


Fish

, 416 fish species are known from the Yangtze Drainage basin, basin, including 362 that strictly are freshwater species. The remaining are also known from salt or brackish waters, such as the river's estuary or the
East China Sea The East China Sea is an arm of the Western Pacific Ocean, located directly offshore from East China (hence the name), covering an area of roughly . Its northern extension between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula Korea is a regi ...

East China Sea
. This makes it one of the most species-rich rivers in Asia and by far the most species-rich in China (in comparison, the Pearl River (China), Pearl River has almost 300 fish species and the
Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin: uə xɔ Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is ...
160). 178 fish species are endemic to the Yangtze River Basin. Many are only found in some section of the river basin and especially the upper reach (above
Yichang Yichang (), Postal Map Romanization, alternatively romanized as Ichang, is a prefecture-level city located in western Hubei province, China. It is the third largest city in the province after the capital, Wuhan and the prefecture-level city Xiang ...

Yichang
, but below the headwaters in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau) is rich with 279 species, including 147 Yangtze endemics and 97 strict endemics (found only in this part of the basin). In contrast, the headwaters, where the average altitude is above , are only home to 14 highly specialized species, but 8 of these are endemic to the river. The largest orders in the Yangtze are Cypriniformes (280 species, including 150 endemics), Siluriformes (40 species, including 20 endemics), Perciformes (50 species, including 4 endemics), Tetraodontiformes (12 species, including 1 endemic) and Osmeriformes (8 species, including 1 endemic). No other order has more than four species in the river and one endemic. Many Yangtze fish species have declined drastically and 65 were recognized as Threatened species, threatened in the 2009 Chinese Regional Red List, red list.Wang, S.; and Xie, Y. (2009). ''China species red list''. Vol. II Vertebrates – Part 1. High Education Press, Beijing, China. Among these are three that are considered entirely extinct (, ''Anabarilius liui liui'' and ''Atrilinea macrolepis''), two that are extinct in the wild (''Anabarilius polylepis'', ''Schizothorax parvus''), four that are critically endangered ''Euchiloglanis kishinouyei'', ''Megalobrama elongata'', ''Schizothorax longibarbus'' and ''Leiocassis longibarbus''). Additionally, both the Yangtze sturgeon and Chinese sturgeon are considered critically endangered by the IUCN. The survival of these two sturgeon may rely on the continued release of captive bred specimens. Although still listed as critically endangered rather than extinct by both the Chinese red list and IUCN, recent reviews have found that the Chinese paddlefish is extinct. Surveys conducted between 2006 and 2008 by ichthyologists failed to catch any, but two probable specimens were recorded with Hydroacoustics, hydroacoustic signals. The last definite record was an individual that was accidentally captured near Yibin in 2003 and released after having been Wildlife radio telemetry, radio tagged. The Chinese sturgeon is the largest fish in the river and among the largest freshwater fish in the world, reaching a length of ; the extinct Chinese paddlefish reputedly reached as much as , but its maximum size is labeled with considerable uncertainty. The largest threats to the Yangtze native fish are overfishing and habitat loss (such as building of dams and land reclamation), but pollution, destructive fishing practices (such as Blast fishing, fishing with dynamite or poison) and introduced species also cause problems. About of the total freshwater fisheries in China are in the Yangtze Basin, but a drastic decline in size of several important species has been recorded, as highlighted by data from lakes in the river basin. In 2015, some experts recommend a 10-year fishing moratorium to allow the remaining populations to recover,Yiman, L.; and Zhouyang, D. (January 4, 2013).
Expert calls for 10-year fishing moratorium on Yangtze River.
'' ChinaDialogue. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
and in January 2020 China imposed a 10-year fishing moratorium on 332 sites along the Yangtze. Dams present another serious problem, as several species in the river perform breeding Fish migration, migrations and most of these are non-jumpers, meaning that normal fish ladders designed for salmon are ineffective. For example, the Gezhouba Dam blocked the migration of the paddlerfish and two sturgeon, while also effectively splitting the Chinese high fin banded shark population into two and causing the Local extinction, extirpation of the Yangtze population of the Japanese eel. In an attempt of minimizing the effect of the dams, the
Three Gorges Dam The Three Gorges Dam is a that spans the by the town of , in , , province, central , downstream of the . The Three Gorges Dam has been the in terms of (22,500 ) since 2012. The dam generates an average 95±20 TWh of electricity per ...

Three Gorges Dam
has released water to mimic the (pre-dam) natural flooding and trigger the breeding of carp species downstream.The Nature Conservancy:
China, Places We Protect: The Yangtze River.
'' Retrieved November 12, 2015.
In addition to dams already built in the Yangtze basin, several large dams are planned and these may present further problems for the native fauna. While many fish species native to the Yangtze are seriously threatened, others have become important in fish farming and introduced widely outside their native range. A total of 26 native fish species of the Yangtze basin are farmed. Among the most important are four Asian carp: grass carp, black carp, silver carp and bighead carp. Other species that support important fisheries include northern snakehead, Chinese perch, ''Takifugu'' pufferfish (mainly in the lowermost sections) and predatory carp.


Other animals

Due to commercial use of the river, tourism, and pollution, the Yangtze is home to several seriously threatened species of large animals (in addition to fish): the
narrow-ridged finless porpoise The narrow-ridged finless porpoise (''Neophocaena asiaeorientalis'') is a newly accepted species, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature International is an adjective (also used as a noun) meaning "between nations". International m ...
, baiji (Yangtze river dolphin),
Chinese alligator The Chinese alligator (''Alligator sinensis'', ), also known as the Yangtze alligator, China alligator, or historically the muddy dragon, is a crocodilian Crocodilia (or Crocodylia, both ) is an Order (biology), order of mostly large, preda ...

Chinese alligator
, Yangtze giant softshell turtle and Chinese giant salamander. This is the only other place besides the United States that is native to an alligator and paddlefish species. In 2010, the Yangtze population of finless porpoise was 1000 individuals. In December 2006, the Yangtze river dolphin was declared functionally extinct after an extensive search of the river revealed no signs of the dolphin's inhabitance. In 2007, a large, white animal was sighted and photographed in the lower Yangtze and was tentatively presumed to be a ''baiji''. However, as there have been no confirmed sightings since 2004, the ''baiji'' is presumed to be functionally extinct at this time. "Baijis were the last surviving species of a large lineage dating back seventy million years and one of only six species of freshwater dolphins." It has been argued that the extinction of the Yangtze river dolphin was a result of the completion of the Three Gorges Dam, a project that has affected many species of animals and plant life found only in the gorges area. Numerous species of land mammals are found in the Yangtze valley, but most of these are not directly associated with the river. Three exceptions are the semi-aquatic Eurasian otter, water deer and Père David's deer. In addition to the very large and exceptionally rare Yangtze giant softshell turtle, several smaller turtle species are found in the Yangtze basin, its Yangtze River Delta, delta and valleys. These include the Chinese box turtle, yellow-headed box turtle, Pan's box turtle, Yunnan box turtle, yellow pond turtle, Chinese pond turtle, Chinese stripe-necked turtle and Chinese softshell turtle, which all are considered threatened. More than 160 amphibian species are known from the Yangtze basin, including the world's largest, the critically endangered Chinese giant salamander.WWF Global:
Yangtze River.
'' Retrieved November 12, 2015.
It has declined drastically due to hunting (it is considered a Chinese cuisine, delicacy), habitat loss and pollution.AmphibiaWeb (2013).
Andrias davidianus.
'' Retrieved November 13, 2015.
The polluted Dian Lake, which is part of the upper Yangtze watershed (via Pudu River), is home to several highly threatened fish, but was also home to the Yunnan lake newt. This newt has not been seen since 1979 and is considered extinct.Stuart, S.; Hoffman, M.; Chanson, J.; Cox, N.; Berridge, R.; Ramani, P., and Young, B. (2008). ''Threatened Amphibians of the World.'' Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. In contrast, the Chinese fire belly newt from the lower Yangtze basin is one of the few Chinese salamander species to remain common and it is considered least concern by the IUCN. The Yangtze basin contains a large number of freshwater crab species, including several endemics. A particularly rich genus in the river basin is the Potamidae, potamid ''Sinopotamon''. The Chinese mitten crab is catadromous (migrates between fresh and saltwater) and it has been recorded up to up the Yangtze, which is the largest river in its native range.Veilleux, É; and de Lafontaine, Y. (2007). ''Biological Synopsis of the Chinese Mitten Crab (Eriocheir sinensis).'' Canadian Manuscript Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2812. It is a commercially important species in its native range where it is farmed, but the Chinese mitten crab has also been spread to Europe and North America where considered Invasive species, invasive. The freshwater jellyfish ''Craspedacusta sowerbii'', now an invasive species in large parts of the world, originates from the Yangtze.


See also

* :Tributaries of the Yangtze River, Tributaries of the Yangtze River * List of rivers in China * Northern and Southern China, traditionally divided by the Huai River but sometimes considered to separate at the Yangtze * ''Rediscovering the Yangtze River'' * Ship lifts in China * South-North Water Transfer Project * Steamboats on the Yangtze River * Yangtze River Crossing * Yangtze Service Medal


References


Further reading

* Carles, William Richard
"The Yangtse Chiang"
''The Geographical Journal'', Vol. 12, No. 3 (Sep. 1898), pp. 225–240; Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) * Danielson, Eric N. 2004. ''Nanjing and the Lower Yangzi, From Past to Present, The New Yangzi River Trilogy, Vol. II''. Singapore: Times Editions/Marshall Cavendish. . * Danielson, Eric N. 2005. ''The Three Gorges and The Upper Yangzi, From Past to Present, The New Yangzi River Trilogy, Vol. III''. Singapore: Times Editions/Marshall Cavendish. . * 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. * Winchester, Simon. 1996. ''The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze and Back in Chinese Time'', Holt, Henry & Company, 1996, hardcover, ; trade paperback, Owl Publishing, 1997, ; trade paperback, St. Martins, 2004, 432 pages, * Plant, Cornell. ''Glimpses of the Yangze Gorges''; illustrations by Ivon A. Donnelly. Kelly & Walsh, Limited, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, 1926.


External links

*
Video of walking along the Yangtze River in Yichang City, Hubei Province
{{Authority control Yangtze River, Rivers of China Geography of Central China Geography of East China Geography of Western China Rivers of Anhui Rivers of Chongqing Rivers of Hubei Rivers of Jiangsu Rivers of Qinghai Rivers of Shanghai Rivers of Sichuan Rivers of Tibet Rivers of Yunnan Drainage basins of the Pacific Ocean Articles containing video clips