Yangtze (English: /ˈjæŋtsi/ or /ˈjɑːŋtsi/), which is 6,380
km (3,964 miles) long, is the longest river in Asia and the
third-longest in the world. The river is the longest in the world to
flow entirely within one country. It drains one-fifth of the land area
of the People's Republic of
China (PRC) and its river basin is home to
nearly one-third of the country's population. The
Yangtze is the
sixth-largest river by discharge volume in the world.
The English name
Yangtze derives from the Chinese name Yángzǐ Jiāng
( listen), which refers to the lowest 435 km of the river between
Nanjing and Shanghai. The whole river is known in
China as Cháng
Jiāng ( listen; literally: "Long River").
Yangtze plays a large role in the history, culture and economy of
China. The prosperous
Yangtze River Delta
Yangtze River Delta generates as much as 20% of
the PRC's GDP. The
Yangtze River flows through a wide array of
ecosystems and is habitat to several endemic and endangered species
including the Chinese alligator, the finless porpoise, the Chinese
paddlefish, the (possibly extinct)
Yangtze River dolphin
Yangtze River dolphin or baiji, and
Yangtze sturgeon. For thousands of years, the river has been used
for water, irrigation, sanitation, transportation, industry,
boundary-marking and war. The
Three Gorges Dam on the
Yangtze River is
the largest hydro-electric power station in the world.
In recent years, the river has suffered from industrial pollution,
agricultural run-off, siltation, and loss of wetland and lakes, which
exacerbates seasonal flooding. Some sections of the river are now
protected as nature reserves. A stretch of the upstream Yangtze
flowing through deep gorges in western
Yunnan is part of the Three
Parallel Rivers of
Yunnan Protected Areas, a
UNESCO World Heritage
Site. In mid-2014 the Chinese government announced it was building a
multi-tier transport network, comprising railways, roads and airports,
to create a new economic belt alongside the river.
1.1.1 Chang Jiang – "Long River"
1.1.2 Jinsha Jiang – "Gold Sands River"
1.1.3 Tongtian River
1.1.4 Tuotuo River
2.1 Image gallery
4.1 Geologic history
4.2 Early history
4.3 Age of steam
4.4 U.S. and French conflicts
4.5 Navigation on the upper river
4.6 Navy ships
5.1 Periodic floods
5.2 Degradation of the river
5.3 Contribution to ocean pollution
5.4 Reconnecting lakes
6 Major cities along the river
10 Protected areas
11.2 Other animals
12 See also
14 Further reading
15 External links
Yangtze River (Cháng jiāng)" in Simplified (top) and Traditional
(bottom) Chinese characters
"The Long River"
[ʈʂʰǎŋ tɕjáŋ] ( listen)
Yang入 Tse平 Kaon平
Because the source of the
Yangtze was not ascertained until modern
times, the Chinese have given different names to lower and upstream
sections of the river.
"Yangtze" was actually the name of Chang Jiang for the lower part from
Nanjing to the river mouth at Shanghai. However, due to the fact that
Christian missionaries carried out their activities mainly in this
area and were familiar with the name of this part of Chang Jiang,
Yangtze river" was used to refer to the whole Chang Jiang in the
In modern Chinese,
Yangtze is still used to refer to the lower part of
Chang Jiang from
Nanjing to the river mouth.
Yangtze never stands for
the whole Chang Jiang.
Chang Jiang – "Long River"
Chang Jiang (长江/長江) is the modern Chinese name for the lower
2,884 km (1,792 mi) of the
Yangtze from its confluence with
the Min River at
Sichuan Province to the river mouth at
Shanghai. Chang Jiang literally means the "Long River." In Old
Chinese, this stretch of the
Yangtze was simply called Jiang/Kiang
江, a character of phono-semantic compound origin, combining the
water radical 氵 with the homophone 工 (now pronounced gōng, but
*kˤoŋ in Old Chinese). Krong was probably a word in the
Austroasiatic language of local peoples such as the Yue. Similar to
Proto-Vietnamese and krung in Mon, all meaning "river", it
is related to modern Vietnamese sông (river) and Khmer kôngkea
By the Han Dynasty, Jiang had come to mean any river in Chinese, and
this river was distinguished as the "Great River" 大江 (Dàjiāng).
The epithet 長 (of which the modern, simplified version 长), means
"long", was first formally applied to the river during the Six
Dynasties period.
Various sections of Chang Jiang have local names. From
Yichang, the river through
Chongqing Municipality is also
known as the Chuan Jiang (川江, p Chuānjiāng) or "Sichuan
Hubei Province, the river is also called the Jing Jiang
(荆江, p Jīngjiāng) or the "Jing River" after Jingzhou. In
Anhui Province, the river takes on the local name Wan Jiang after the
shorthand name for Anhui, wan (皖). And Yangzi Jiang
t 揚子江s 扬子江, p Yángzǐjiāng) 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. The name
likely comes from an ancient ferry crossing called Yangzi or Yangzijin
(揚子 or 揚子津, p Yángzǐ or Yángzǐjīn).
Europeans who arrived in the
Yangtze Delta region applied this local
name to the Å river. The dividing sites of upstream, midstream
and downstream are considered to be
Yichang and Hukou (Jiujiang)
respectively.[clarification needed These 3 terms seem to be linked to
2 places.]
Jinsha Jiang – "Gold Sands River"
Jinsha River (金沙江, lit. "Gold Dust" or
"Golden-Sanded River") is the name for 2,308 km
(1,434 mi) of the
Yibin upstream to the confluence
Batang River near Yushu in
Qinghai Province. From antiquity
until the Ming Dynasty, this stretch of the river was believed to be a
tributary of the
Yangtze while the Min River was thought to be the
main course of the river above Yibin. In the Tribute to Yu, written in
the fifth century BCE, this section is called the Hei Shui 黑水 or
the "Black Water." The name "Jinsha" originates in the Song dynasty
when the river attracted large numbers of gold prospectors. Gold
prospecting along the Jinsha continued to this day. Prior to the
Song dynasty, other names were used including, for example Lújiāng
(瀘江) from the
Three Kingdoms period.
Tongtian River (通天河, lit. "River Passing Through
Heaven") describes the 813 km (505 mi) section from Yushu up
to the confluence with the Dangqu River. The name comes from a fabled
river in the Journey to the West. In antiquity, it was called the Yak
River. In Mongolian, this section is known as the Murui-ussu
(lit. "Winding Stream"). and sometimes confused with the
Tuotuo River (沱沱河, p Tuótuó Hé, lit. "Tearful
River" is the official headstream of the Yangtze, and flows
358 km (222 mi) from the glaciers of the Gelaindong Massif
Tanggula Mountains of southwestern
Qinghai to the confluence
Dangqu River to form the Tongtian River.) In Mongolian,
this section of the river known as the Ulaan Mörön or the "Red
The Tuotuo is one of three main headstreams of the Yangtze. The Dangqu
River (当曲, p Dāngqū) is the actual geographic headwater of
the Yangtze.  The name is derived the
Classical Tibetan for "Marsh
River" (འདམ་ཆུ, w 'Dam Chu). The Chumar River
(楚玛尔河) is the Chinese name for the northern headwater of the
Yangtze, which flows from the
Hoh Xil Mountains in
Qinghai into the
Tongtian. Chumar is Tibetan for the "Red River."
The river was called Quian (江) and Quianshui (江水) by Marco
Polo and appeared on the earliest English maps as Kian or
Kiam, all recording dialects which preserved forms of the
Middle Chinese pronunciation of 江 as Kæwng. By the mid-19th
century, these romanizations had standardized as Kiang; Dajiang, e.g.,
was rendered as "Ta-Kiang". "Keeang-Koo", "Kyang Kew",
"Kian-ku", and related names derived from mistaking the Chinese
term for the mouth of the
Yangtze (江口, p Jiāngkǒu) as the
name of the river itself.
A map of
China depicting the Yellow River's southerly path following
its stabilization by the Grand Eunuch Li Xing's public works after the
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, 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
names and to the irony of its application to such a muddy
The 1615 Latin account of the Jesuit missions to
descriptions of the "Iansu" and "Iansuchian". The posthumous
account's translation of the name as "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 洋子江 rather than the
'proper' 揚子江. Further, although railroads and the Shanghai
concessions subsequently turned it into a backwater,
Yangzhou was the
lower river's principal port for much of the Qing Dynasty, directing
Liangjiang's important salt monopoly and connecting the
the Grand Canal to Beijing. (That connection also made it one of the
Yellow River's principal ports between the floods of 1344 and the
1850s, during which time the
Yellow River ran well south of Shandong
and discharged into the ocean only a few hundred kilometres away from
the mouth of the Yangtze.) By 1800, English cartographers such
Aaron Arrowsmith had adopted the French style of the name as
Yang-tse or Yang-tse Kiang. The British diplomat Thomas Wade
emended this to Yang-tzu Chiang as part of his formerly popular
romanization of Chinese, based on the
Beijing dialect instead of
Nanjing's and first published in 1867. The spellings
Yangtze Kiang was a compromise between the two methods adopted at
the 1906 Imperial Postal Conference in Shanghai, which established
Hanyu Pinyin was adopted by the PRC's First
Congress in 1958, but it was not widely employed in English outside
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.
The source and upper reaches of the
Yangtze are located in ethnic
Tibetan areas of Qinghai. In Tibetan, the Tuotuo headwaters are
the Machu (རྨ་ཆུ་, w rMa-chu, literally "Red
River" or (perhaps "Wound-[like Red] River?")). The Tongtian is the
Drichu (འབྲི་ཆུ་, w 'Bri Chu,
literally "River of the Female Yak"; transliterated into Chinese
as 直曲, p Zhíqū).
Yangtze drainage basin
Cruise on the
Yangtze River before sunset
The river originates from several tributaries in the eastern part of
the Tibetan Plateau, 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
Geladandong Mountain in the Tanggula Mountains. This source is
found at 33°25′44″N 91°10′57″E / 33.42889°N
91.18250°E / 33.42889; 91.18250 and while not the furthest source
of the Yangtze, it is the highest source at 5,342 m
(17,526 ft) 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 325 km
(202 mi) southeast of Geladandong. This source was only
discovered in the late 20th century and lies in wetlands at
32°36′14″N 94°30′44″E / 32.60389°N 94.51222°E /
32.60389; 94.51222 and 5,170 m (16,960 ft) above sea level
just southeast of Chadan Township in Zadoi County, 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 (Tsinghai), turning southward down a deep valley at the border
Sichuan (Szechwan) and Tibet to reach Yunnan. In the course of this
valley, the river's elevation drops from above 5,000 m
(16,000 ft) to less than 1,000 m (3,300 ft). The
headwaters of the
Yangtze are situated at an elevation of about
4,900 m (16,100 ft). In its descent to sea level, the river
falls to an altitude of 305 m (1,001 ft) at Yibin, Sichuan,
the head of navigation for riverboats, and to 192 m (630 ft)
Chongqing (Chungking). Between
Yichang (I-ch'ang), at
an altitude of 40 m (130 ft) and a distance of about
320 km (200 mi), it passes through the spectacular Yangtze
Gorges, which are noted for their natural beauty but are dangerous to
It enters the basin of
Sichuan at Yibin. While in the
it receives several mighty tributaries, increasing its water volume
significantly. It then cuts through Mount Wushan bordering Chongqing
Hubei to create the famous Three Gorges. Eastward of the Three
Yichang is the first city on the
After entering Hubei, the
Yangtze receives water from a number of
lakes. The largest of these lakes is Dongting Lake, which is located
on the border of
Hubei provinces, and is the outlet for most
of the rivers in Hunan. At Wuhan, it receives its biggest tributary,
the Han River, bringing water from its northern basin as far as
At the northern tip of Jiangxi, Lake Poyang, the biggest freshwater
lake in China, merges into the river. The river then runs through
Jiangsu provinces, receiving more water from innumerable
smaller lakes and rivers, and finally reaches the East
China Sea at
Four of China's five main freshwater lakes contribute their waters to
Yangtze River. Traditionally, the upstream part of the Yangtze
River refers to the section from
Yibin to Yichang; the middle part
refers to the section from
Yichang to Hukou County, where Lake Poyang
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, but this dating has been
The glaciers of the Tanggula Mountains, the traditional source of the
The Tuotuo River, a headwater stream of the
Yangtze River, known in
Tibetan as Maqu, or the "Red River"
The first turn of the
Yangtze at Shigu (石鼓) in
where the river turns 180 degrees from south- to north-bound
Jinsha River in Yunnan
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Tiger Leaping Gorge near Lijiang downstream from Shigu
Qutang Gorge, one of the Three Gorges
Wu Gorge, one of the Three Gorges
Xiling Gorge, one of the Three Gorges
Yangtze flows into the East
China Sea and was navigable by
ocean-going vessels up 1,000 miles (1,600 km) from its mouth even
Three Gorges Dam was built.[dubious – discuss] As of June
2003, this dam spans the river, flooding Fengjie, the first of a
number of towns affected by the massive flood control and power
generation project. This is the largest comprehensive irrigation
project in the world and has a significant impact on China's
agriculture. Its proponents argue that it will free people living
along the river from floods that have repeatedly threatened them in
the past and will offer them electricity and water transport—though
at the expense of permanently flooding many existing towns (including
numerous ancient cultural relics) and causing large-scale changes in
the local ecology.
Opponents of the dam point out that there are three different kinds of
floods on the
Yangtze River: floods which originate in the upper
reaches, floods which originate in the lower reaches, and floods along
the entire length of the river. They argue that the
Three Gorges dam
will actually make flooding in the upper reaches worse and have little
or no impact on floods which originate in the lower reaches. Twelve
hundred years of low water marks on the river were recorded in the
inscriptions and the carvings of carp at Baiheliang, now submerged.
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
The river is one of the world's busiest waterways. Traffic includes
commercial traffic transporting bulk goods such as coal as well as
manufactured goods and passengers. Cargo transportation reached 795
million tons in 2005. River cruises several days long,
especially through the beautiful and scenic
Three Gorges area, are
becoming popular as the tourism industry grows in China.
Flooding along the river has been a major problem. The rainy season in
China is May and June in areas south of
Yangtze River, and July and
August in areas north of it. The huge river system receives water from
both southern and northern flanks, which causes its flood season to
extend from May to August. Meanwhile, the relatively dense population
and rich cities along the river make the floods more deadly and
costly. The most recent major floods were the 1998
Floods, but more disastrous were the 1954
Yangtze River Floods, which
killed around 30,000 people.
See also: The Sand Pebbles (novel), The Sand Pebbles (film), USS
Asheville (PG-21), and
Although the mouth of the
Yellow River has fluctuated widely north and
south of the
Shandong peninsula 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 (c. 11 Ma). Prior to this, its
headwaters drained south into the
Gulf of Tonkin
Gulf of Tonkin along or near the
course of the present Red River.
Afternoon light on the jagged grey mountains rising from the Yangtze
Further information: Baiyue, state of Wu, state of Yue, state of Chu,
and Southward expansion of the Han Dynasty
Yangtze River is important to the cultural origins of southern
China and Japan. Human activity has been verified in the Three
Gorges 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 and Majiabang cultures, both among the earliest
cultivators of rice. By the 3rd millennium BC, the successor
Liangzhu culture showed evidence of influence from the Longshan
peoples of the North
China Plain. A study of Liangzhu remains
found a high prevalence of haplogroup O1, linking it to Austronesian
Daic populations; the same study found the rare haplogroup O3d
at a Daxi site on the central Yangtze, indicates possible connection
with the Hmong, although "only small traces" of haplogroup O3d remains
in Hmong today. What is now thought of as Chinese culture
developed along the more fertile
Yellow River basin; the "Yue" people
of the lower
Yangtze possessed very different traditions –
blackening their teeth, cutting their hair short, tattooing their
bodies, and living in small settlements among bamboo groves –
and were considered barbarous by the northerners.
Yangtze valley was home to sophisticated Neolithic
Cultures. Later on it was the earliest part of the
to be integrated into the North Chinese cultural sphere. North Chinese
people were active there from the Bronze Age.
A map of the
Warring States around 350 BC, showing the former
coastline of the
In the lower Yangtze, two Yue tribes, the
Gouwu in southern Jiangsu
Yuyue in northern Zhejiang, display increasing Zhou (i.e.,
North Chinese) influence from the 9th century BC. Traditional
accounts credit these changes to northern refugees (Taibo 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, political institutions, and military technology,
they were among the most powerful states during the later Zhou. 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 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. They fell in against themselves, however.
Chu's growing power led its rival Jin to support Wu as a counter. Wu
successfully sacked Chu's capital Ying in 506 BC, but Chu
subsequently supported Yue in its attacks against Wu's southern flank.
In 473 BC,
King Goujian of Yue
King Goujian of Yue fully annexed Wu and moved his
court to its 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. Qin was able to unite
China by first subduing Ba and Shu on
Yangtze in modern 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
Xiang River to expand
China into Hunan,
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 vied with each other for control of the north.
From the Han Dynasty, the region of the
Yangtze River became more and
more important to China's economy. The establishment of irrigation
systems (the most famous one is Dujiangyan, northwest of Chengdu,
built during the
Warring States period) made agriculture very stable
and productive. 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
Jiangnan (that includes the southern part of Jiangsu, the
northern part of Zhejiang, and the southeastern part of Anhui)
provided ⅓–½ of the nation's revenues.
Yangtze has long been the backbone of China's inland water
transportation system, which remained particularly important for
almost two thousand years, until the construction of the national
railway network during the 20th century. The Grand Canal connects the
Yangtze with the major cities of the
Jiangnan region south of
the river (Wuxi, Suzhou, Hangzhou) and with northern
China (all the
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.
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 period.
Yangtze was the site of naval battles between the
Song dynasty and
Jurchen Jin during the Jin–Song wars. In the
Battle of Caishi
Battle of Caishi of
1161, the ships of the Jin emperor
Wanyan Liang clashed with the Song
fleet on the Yangtze. Song soldiers fired bombs of lime and sulphur
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 from the same year.
Nanjing was the capital of
China several times, although
most of the time its territory only covered the southeastern part of
China, such as the Wu kingdom in the
Three Kingdoms period, the
Eastern Jin Dynasty, and during the Southern and Northern Dynasties
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms periods. Only the Ming occupied
most parts of
China from their capital at Nanjing, though it later
moved the capital to Beijing. The ROC capital was located in Nanjing
in the periods 1911–12, 1927–37, and 1945–49.
Ten Thousand Miles of the
Yangtze River, a
Ming Dynasty landscape
Age of steam
Steamboats on the Yangtze River
Steamboats on the Yangtze River and
The first merchant steamer in China, the Jardine, was built to order
for the firm of
Jardine Matheson in 1835. She was a small vessel
intended for use as a mail and passenger carrier between Lintin
Macao and Whampoa. However, after several trips, the Chinese
authorities, for reasons best known to themselves, prohibited her
entrance into the river. Lord Palmerston, the British Foreign
Secretary who personified gunboat diplomacy, decided to wage war on
China mainly on the "suggestions" of Jardine Matheson[citation
needed]. In mid-1840, a large fleet of warships appeared on the China
coast, and with the first cannon fire aimed at a British ship, the
Royal Saxon, the British started the First
Opium War. The Imperial
Government, forced to surrender, gave in to the demands of the
British. British military was vastly superior 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 coastal towns; such ships (like the Nemesis) were not only
virtually indestructible using contemporary available weapons, but
also highly mobile and able to support a gun platform with very heavy
guns. In addition, the British troops were armed with modern rifled
muskets and cannons, unlike the Qing forces. After the British took
Canton, they sailed up the
Yangtze and took the tax barges, a
devastating blow to the Empire as it slashed the revenue of the
imperial court in
Beijing to just a small fraction of what it had
In 1842, the Qing authorities sued for peace, which concluded with the
Nanjing signed on a gunboat in the river, negotiated in
August of that year and ratified in 1843. In the treaty,
forced to pay an indemnity to Britain, open five ports to Britain, and
Hong Kong to 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.
Yangtze River steam boats filmed in 1937
U.S. and French conflicts
The US, at the same time, wanting to protect its interests and expand
trade, ventured the USS Wachusett six-hundred miles up the river to
Hankow sometime in the 1860s, while the USS Ashuelot, a sidewheeler,
made her way up the river to
Yichang in 1874. The first USS Monocacy,
a sidewheel gunboat, began charting the
Yangtze River in 1871. The
first USS Palos, an armed tug, was on 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 Hankow, 600 miles upriver.
Stopping at each open treaty port, the gunboat cooperated with naval
vessels of other nations and repairing damage. She then operated along
the north and central
China coast and on the lower
Yangtze until June
1892. The cessation of bloodshed with the Taiping Rebellion, 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
Battle of Shipu
Battle of Shipu having French cruisers in the lower Yangtze.
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
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, or Ichang, 1,600 km (990 mi) from the sea, is the
head of navigation for river steamers; oceangoing vessels may navigate
the river to Hankow, a distance of almost 1,000 km (almost
600 mi) from the sea. For about 320 km (200 mi) inland
from its mouth, the river is virtually at sea level.
The Chinese Government, too, had steamers. It had its own naval fleet,
the Nanyang Fleet, which fell prey to the French fleet. The Chinese
would rebuild its fleet, only to be ravaged by another war with Japan
(1895), 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
Yangtze in 1915
Cruise boats on Yangtze
A vehicle carrier on Yangtze
A container carrier on Yangtze
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
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 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
Chongqing. Pioneer was sold to
British Royal Navy
British 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
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
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
Butterfield and Swire
Butterfield and Swire and
Standard Oil added their own
steamers on the river between 1917 - 1919. Between 1918 -1919, Sichuan
warlord violence and escalating civil war put
Navigational Company out of business. Shutung was commandeered by
warlords and Shuhun was brought down river to
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
China coastal and river services were
operated by several companies. In that year, however, these were
merged into the Indo-
China Steam Navigation Company Ltd, a public
company under the management of Jardine's. The Jardine company pushed
inland up the Yangtsze River on which a specially designed fleet was
built to meet all requirements of the river trade. For many years,
this fleet gave unequalled service. Jardine's established an enviable
reputation for the efficient handling of shipping. As a result, the
Royal Mail Steam Packet Company
Royal Mail Steam Packet Company 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 all
destroyed on December 12, 1937 when Japanese warplanes bombed and sank
the U.S.S. Panay. One of the
Standard Oil captains who survived this
attack had served on the Upper River for 14 years.
Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy armored cruiser Izumo at
Shanghai in 1937.
She sank riverboats on the
Yangtze in 1941.
With the Treaty Ports, the 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: Austro-Hungarian, Portuguese, Italian, Russian and 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
First Sino-Japanese War
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 and 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
French Connection) for processing in Germany and eventual sale in the
U.S. or Europe.
In 1909 the gunboat USS Samar changed station to Shanghai, where
she regularly patrolled the lower
Yangtze River up to
Wuhu. Following an anti-foreign riots in
Changsha in April 1910, which
destroyed a number of missions and merchant warehouses, Samar sailed
Yangtze River to
Hankow and then Changsa to show the flag and
help restore order. The gunboat was also administratively assigned to
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
Hankow in August and
Ichang in September where she wintered
over owing to both the dry season and the outbreak of rebellion at
Wuchang in October 1911. Tensions eased and the gunboat turned
downriver in July 1912, arriving at
Shanghai in October. Samar
patrolled the lower
Yangtze after fighting broke out in the summer
1913, a precursor to a decade of conflict between provincial 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
The Spanish boats were replaced in the 1920s by USS Luzon and
USS Mindanao were the largest, USS Oahu and USS Panay
next in size, and USS Guam and USS Tutuila the smallest.
China in the first fifty years of the 20th century, was in low-grade
chaos. Warlords, revolutions, natural disasters, civil war and
Yangtze boats were involved in the Nanking
Incident in 1927 when the Communists and Nationalists broke into open
war. The Chiang Kai-shek's massacre of the Communists in
1927 furthered the unrest, 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 USS Palos protected American
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
Ichang and Chungking throughout 1923, supplying
armed guards to merchant ships, and protecting Americans at Chungking
while that city was under siege by a warlord army.
British Royal Navy
British 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 HMS Bee in 1937, were dive-bombed by
Japanese aeroplanes during the notorious
Nanking Massacre. The
Westerners were forced to leave 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 HMS Amethyst in 1949 during the Chinese Civil War
People's Liberation Army
People's Liberation Army forces; and led to the
award of the
Dickin Medal to the ship's cat Simon.
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 1931, 1935, 1954, 1998.
See also: 1931
The 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.
Yangtze again flooded in 1935, causing great loss of life.
See also: 1954
Yangtze River Floods
From June to September 1954, the
Yangtze River Floods were a series of
catastrophic floodings that occurred mostly in
Hubei Province. Due to
unusually high volume of precipitation as well as an extraordinarily
long rainy season in the middle stretch of the
Yangtze River late in
the spring of 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
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.
See also: 1998
Yangtze River floods
1998 Yangtze River floods
1998 Yangtze River floods (1998年中国洪水) was a major flood
that lasted from middle of June to the beginning of September 1998 in
the People's Republic of
China at the
Yangtze River. The event was
considered the worst Northern
China flood in 40 years. 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
25 million acres (100,000 km2) were evacuated, 13.3 million
houses were damaged or destroyed. The floods caused $26 billion in
See also: 2016
Degradation of the river
See also: Water resources in
China § Water quality
Barges on the river.
Beginning in the 1950s dams and thousands of kilometres of dikes were
built for flood control, land reclamation, irrigation and for the
control of diseases vectors such as blood flukes that caused
Schistosomiasis. More than a hundred lakes were thus 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 100 square kilometers (39 sq mi) in the 1950s to 40
square kilometers (15 sq mi) 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, 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 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, finless porpoise 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
Contribution to ocean pollution
Yangtze River produces the majority of the world's ocean
pollution, according to The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch environmental
research foundation that focuses on ocean pollution.
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 province on the middle Yangtze.
In 2005 Baidang Lake in
Anhui Province was also reconnected.
Reconnecting the lakes improved water quality and fish were able to
migrate from the river into the lake, replenishing their numbers and
genetic stock. The trial also showed that reconnecting the lake
reduced flooding. The new approach also benefitted the farmers
economically. Pond farmers switched to natural fish feed, which helped
them breed better quality fish that can be sold for more, increasing
their income by 30%. Based on the successful pilot project, other
provincial governments emulated the experience and also reestablished
connections to lakes that had previously been cut off from the river.
In 2005 a
Yangtze Forum has been established bringing together 13
riparian provincial governments to manage the river from source to
sea. In 2006 China’s Ministry of Agriculture made it a national
policy to reconnect the
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 16,500 km2
(6,400 sq mi). As a result, populations of 47 threatened
species increased, including the critically endangered Yangtze
alligator. In the
Shanghai area, reestablished wetlands now protect
drinking water sources for the city. It is envisaged to extend the
network throughout the entire
Yangtze to eventually cover 102 areas
and 185,000 km2 (71,000 sq mi). The mayor of 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.
Major cities along the river
See also: Category:Populated places on the
Map of the
Yangtze river locating the
Three Gorges Dam
Satellite map showing the lake created by the
Three Gorges Dam.
Compare Nov. 7, 2006 (above) with April 17, 1987 (below)
Yangtze River bridges and tunnels and
Power Line Crossings
Map all coordinates in "
Yangtze River bridges and tunnels" using:
OpenStreetMap · Google Maps
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX
Until 1957, there were no bridges across the
Yangtze River from 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 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
Shanghai had to disembark, respectively,
at Hanyang and Pukou, and cross the river by steam ferry before
resuming journeys by train from Wuchang or
After the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, Soviet engineers
assisted in the design and construction of the
Bridge, a dual-use road-rail bridge, built from 1955 to 1957. It was
the first bridge across the
Yangtze River. The second bridge across
the river was built a single-track railway bridge built upstream in
Chongqing in 1959. The
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
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 Beijing-Jiujiang
Railway. A second bridge in
Wuhan was completed in 1995. By 2005,
there were a total of 56 bridges and one tunnel across the Yangtze
Yibin and Shanghai. These include some of the longest
suspension and cable-stayed bridges in the world on the
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
has six bridges and one tunnel across the Yangtze.
A number of power line crossings have also been built across the
Yangtze River Bridge, the first bridge crossing Yangtze, was
completed in 1957.
Yangtze River Bridge, a beam bridge, was completed in
Yangtze River Bridge, an arch bridge, was completed in
Yangtze Highway Bridge, a suspension bridge near the
Gezhouba Dam lock, was completed in 1996.
Yangtze River Bridge, between
Nantong and Suzhou, was one
of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world when it was completed
The Caiyuanba Bridge, an arch bridge in Chongqing, was completed in
Yangtze River Bridge at Anqing, was completed
Three Gorges Dam in 2006
Diagram showing dams planned for the upper reaches of the Yangtze
As of 2007, there are two dams built on the
Yangtze river: Three
Gorges Dam and Gezhouba Dam. The
Three Gorges Dam is the 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. Among them, the
Xiluodu Dam is the third
largest power stations in the world, and the Baihetan Dam, planned to
be commissioned in 2021, will be the second largest after the Three
A shipyard on the banks of the
Yangtze building commercial river
Yangtze River has over 700 tributaries. The major tributaries
(listed from upstream to downstream) with the locations of where they
Yalong River (Panzhihua,
Min River (Yibin,
Tuo River (Luzhou,
Chishui River (Southwest China)(Hejiang,
Jialing River (Chongqing)
Wu River (Fuling, Chongqing)
Qing River (Yidu,
Yuan River (Dongting Lake)
Lishui River(Dongting Lake)
Zi River(Dongting Lake)
Xiang River (Yueyang, Hunan)
Han River (Wuhan, Hubei)
Gan River (near Jiujiang,
Shuiyang River (Dangtu,
Chao Lake water system (Chaohu,
Lake Tai water system (Shanghai)
Gan River in
Han River in
Lake Dongting and the Yuan, Zi, Li, and Xiang Rivers in
Wu River in Guizhou Province
Jialing River in eastern
Sichuan Province and
Min River in central Sichuan
Yalong River in western Sichuan
Sanjiangyuan ("Three Rivers' Sources") National Nature Reserve in
Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan
Yangtze River has a high species richness, including many
endemics. A high percentage of these are seriously threatened by human
The two sturgeon species in the
Yangtze (here Chinese sturgeon) are
both seriously threatened
As of 2011[update], 416 fish species are known from the
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. This makes it one of the most species rich
rivers in Asia and by far the most species rich in
comparison, the Pearl River has almost 300 fish species and the Yellow
River 150). 178 fish species are endemic to the
Basin. Many are only found in some section of the river basin and
especially the upper reach (above 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 4,500 m (14,800 ft), are only home to 14 highly
specialized species, but 8 of these are endemic to the river. The
largest orders in the
Cypriniformes (280 species,
including 150 endemics),
Siluriformes (40 species, including 20
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.
Yangtze fish species have declined drastically and 65 were
recognized as threatened in the 2009 Chinese red list. Among these
are two that are considered entirely extinct (Anabarilius liui liui
Atrilinea macrolepis), two that are extinct in the wild
Anabarilius polylepis and Schizothorax parvus) and five that are
critically endangered (Chinese paddlefish, Euchiloglanis kishinouyei,
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. The
Chinese sturgeon and Chinese
paddlefish are the largest fish in the river and among the largest
freshwater fish in the world, reaching lengths of 5 m
(16 ft) and 7 m (23 ft) respectively. Although
listed as critically endangered rather than extinct by both the
Chinese red list and IUCN, the continued survival of the Chinese
paddlefish is questionable. Surveys conducted between 2006 and 2008 by
ichthyologists failed to catch any, but two probable specimens were
recorded with hydroacoustic signals. The last definite record was
a 3.6 m-long (12 ft) specimen caught during illegal fishing
in 2007; despite attempts to keep it alive, it died shortly
The silver carp is native to the river, but has (like other Asian
carp) been spread through large parts of the world with aquaculture
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 fishing with
dynamite or poison) and introduced species also cause problems.
About 2⁄3 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. Some experts recommend a 10-year fishing moratorium
to allow the remaining populations to recover. Dams present
another serious problem, as several species in the river perform
breeding migrations and most of these are non-jumpers, meaning that
normal fish ladders designed for salmon are ineffective. For
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
extirpation of the
Yangtze population of the Japanese eel. In an
attempt of minimizing the effect of the dams, the
Three Gorges Dam has
released water to mimic the (pre-dam) natural flooding and trigger the
breeding of carp species downstream. 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.
The critically endangered
Chinese alligator is one of the smallest
crocodilians, reaching a maximum length of about 2 m
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 finless porpoise, baiji (Yangtze
River dolphin), Chinese alligator,
Yangtze giant softshell turtle
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
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
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
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
The entirely aquatic
Chinese giant salamander
Chinese giant salamander is the world's largest
amphibian, reaching up to 1.8 m (5.9 ft) in length
In addition to the very large and exceptionally rare
softshell turtle, several smaller turtle species are found in the
Yangtze basin, its 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
More than 160 amphibian species are known from the
including the worlds largest, the critically endangered Chinese giant
salamander. It has declined drastically due to hunting (it is
considered a delicacy), habitat loss and pollution. 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
Yunnan lake newt. This newt has not been seen since 1979 and is
considered extinct. 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
Chinese mitten crab
Chinese mitten crab is a commercially important species in the
Yangtze, but invasive in other parts of the world.
Yangtze basin contains a large number of freshwater crab species,
including several endemics. A particularly rich genus in the
river basin is the potamid Sinopotamon. The Chinese mitten crab
is catadromous (migrates between fresh and saltwater) and it has been
recorded up to 1,400 km (870 mi) up the Yangtze, which is
the largest river in its native range. It is a commercially
important species in its native range where it is farmed, but the
Chinese mitten crab
Chinese mitten crab has also been spread to
Europe and North America
where considered invasive.
The freshwater jellyfish Craspedacusta sowerbii, now an invasive
species in large parts of the world, originates from the Yangtze.
Category: Tributaries of the
List of rivers in China
Northern and Southern China, traditionally divided by the Huai River
but sometimes considered to separate at the Yangtze
Ship lifts in China
South-North Water Transfer Project
Steamboats on the
Yangtze River Crossing
Yangtze Service Medal
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^ Konstam, Angus.
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^ Mongolian: Xөх Мөрөн, Höh or Kök Mörön.
^ Davenport, Arthur. Report upon the Trading Capabilities of the
Country Traversed by the
Yunnan Mission, pp. 10 ff. Harrison &
Sons (London), 1877.
^ Recorded as bearing the local Chinese name of 清水 (Qīngshuǐ),
literally meaning "Clear Water[way]".
^ Aloian, Molly. Rivers Around the World: The Yangtze: China's
Majestic River, p. 6. Crabtree Publishing Co. (New York), 2010.
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^ Room, Adrian. Placenames of the World, p. 395. 1997. Reprint:
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^ Wilkes, John. Encyclopaedia Londinensis, or, Universal Dictionary of
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^ Liber, Nadine. Life. "A Scary Pageant in Peking", p. 60. 4 September
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^ a b The St. James's Magazine, Vol. XIV, p. 230. "A Cruise on the
Yangtze Kyang". W. Kent & Co. (London), 1865.
^ Moncrieff, A.R.H. The World of To-day: A Survey of the Lands and
Peoples of The Globe as Seen in Travel and Commerce, Vol. I, p. 42.
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^ a b
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Ricci, Matteo & al. Samuel Purchas (trans.) in Hakluytus
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Collection and Historicall representation of the Jesuites entrance
into Japon and China, until their admission in the Royall Citie of
Nanquin". 1625. Reprint: MacLehose & Co. (Glasgow), 1906. Accessed
14 August 2013.
^ E.g., in Didier, Robert & al. "L'Empire de la Chine". Boudet
(Paris), 1751. Accessed 14 August 2013.
^ Arrowsmith, Aaron. "Asia". G. Allen (London), 1801. Accessed 14
^ Yang & al. Tibetan Geography, p. 73.
Press, 2004. ISBN 7-5085-0665-0.
^ a b
Winchester, Simon (1996). The River at the Center of the World.
Henry Holt. ISBN 0-8050-3888-4.
^ Wong How Man (2005) New and longer
Yangtze source discovered.
^ Richardson, N.J.; Densmore, A.L.; Seward, D. Wipf M. Yong L. (2010).
"Did incision of the
Three Gorges begin in the Eocene?". Geology. 38:
^ Wang, JT; Li, CA; Yong, Y; Lei, S (2010). "Detrital Zircon
Geochronology and Provenance of Core Sediments in Zhoulao Town,
Jianghan Plain, China". Journal of Earth Science. 21 (3): 257–271.
^ Jietao, Wang. "Geomorphological Evolution of the Hengshixi Anticline
Three Gorges Area Through Isobases: A Model of
Capture" (PDF). IJSSST. 17(43): 17.1–17.7 – via EBSCO.
^ "Xinhua - English".
^ "Xinhua - English".
Yangtze River floods". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved
^ Métivier, F. & al. "Mass Accumulation Rates in Asia During the
Cenozoic". Geophysical Journal International, Vol. 137, No. 2, p. 314.
1999. Accessed 5 December 2013.
^ Clift, Peter. "The Marine Geological Record of Neogene Erosional in
Asia: Interpreting the Sedimentary Record to Understand Tectonic and
Climatic Evolution in the Wake of India-Asia Collision". Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution, 2006. Accessed 5 December 2013.
^ "Yayoi linked to
Yangtze area". www.trussel.com. Retrieved
^ Nature. "Early Homo and associated artifacts from Asia".
^ Chang, Kwang-chih; Goodenough, Ward H. (1996). "Archaeology of
China and its bearing on the Austronesian
homeland". In Goodenough, Ward H. (ed.). Prehistoric settlement of the
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^ Li, H; Huang, Y; Mustavich, LF; et al. (November 2007). "Y
chromosomes of prehistoric people along the
Yangtze River". Hum.
Genet. 122: 383–8. doi:10.1007/s00439-007-0407-2.
PMID 17657509. CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al. (link)
^ Li, H (November 2007). "Y chromosomes of prehistoric people along
Yangtze River". Human Genetics. 122: 383–388.
doi:10.1007/s00439-007-0407-2. PMID 17657509.
^ Hutcheon, Robin. China-Yellow, p. 4. Chinese University Press, 1996.
^ Zhang Chi 張弛, "The Qujialing-Shijiahe Culture in the Middle
Yangzi River Valley," in A Companion to Chinese Archaeology, ed. Anne
P. Underhill (Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2013), 510-534; Rowan
K. Flad and Pochan Chen, Ancient Central China: Centers and
Peripheries along the Yangzi River (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2013), 116–25.
^ Li Liu and Xingcan Chen, State Formation in Early
Duckworth, 2003), 75–79, 116–26; Li Feng, Landscape and Power in
Early China: The Crisis and Fall of the Western Zhou, 1045–771 BC
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 322–32.
^ For example, in Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian.
^ Lothar von Falkenhausen, Chinese Society in the Age of Confucius
(1000–250 BC): The Archaeological Evidence (Los Angeles: Cotsen
Institute of Archaeology, 2006), 262–88; Constance A. Cook and John
S. Major, eds. Defining Chu: Image and Reality in Ancient China
(Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1999).
^ Brian Lander, "State Management of River Dikes in Early China: New
Sources on the Environmental History of the Central Yangzi Region."
T’oung Pao 100.4-5 (2014): 325–362.
Lingqu Canal (Xiang'an County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Qin
Dynasty) (Nomination for the
UNESCO Heritage List)
^ Tao, Jing-shen (2002). "A Tyrant on the Yangtze: The Battle of
T'sai-shih in 1161". Excursions in Chinese Culture. Chinese University
Press. pp. 149–155. ISBN 978-962-201-915-7.
^ Needham, Joseph (1987). Science and Civilisation in China: Military
technology: The Gunpowder Epic, Volume 5, Part 7. Cambridge University
Press. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-521-30358-3.
^ Lyman P. Van Slyke, Yangtze, Nature, History and the River,
Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., Massachusetts, 1988, p.18-19
^ Ibid., p. 170-172.
^ Shih Brandmeyer, Polly (2014). "Cornell Plant, Lost Girls and
Recovered Lives - Sino-British Relations at the Human Level in Late
Qing and Early Republican China". Journal of Royal Asiatic Society
Hong Kong Branch. 54: 106–110.
^ "Returns of Trade and Trade Reports 1918,"
China - The Maritime
Customs, published by Order of the Inspector General of Customs.
^ Peter Simpson, "Hell and High Water," South
China Morning Post
Magazine, October 2, 2011, p.24-30.
^ Plant Memorial Brochure, 20th March 1923, National Maritime Museum,
Greenwich, Archive Collection, "Papers of Capt. Samuel Cornell Plant,"
^ Mender, P., Thirty Years A Mariner in the
Far East 1907-1937, The
Memoirs of Peter Mender, A
Standard Oil Ship Captain on China's
Yangtze River, p.53, ISBN 978-1-60910-498-6
^ Chinanews.com.cn. "Chinanews.com.cn." 98年特大洪水. Retrieved
^ a b c Spignesi, Stephen J.  (2004). Catastrophe!: the 100
greatest disasters of all time. Citadel Press.
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^ Pbs.org. "Pbs.org." Great wall across the Yangtze. Retrieved on
^ a b c WWF UK Case Study 2011 / HSBC:Safeguarding the Yangtze.
Celebrating 10 years of conservation success.
^ Ma, Jun (2004). "China's Water Crisis". An International Rivers
Network Book. pp. 55–56. Missing or empty url= (help)
^ a b
China Daily (July 12, 2005). "Isolated
Yangtze lakes reunited
with mother river". Retrieved October 25, 2011.
ABC News (September 7, 2012). "
Yangtze River Turns Red and Turns Up
a Mystery". Retrieved October 28, 2012.
^ Ellen Wohl. A World of Rivers, pg 287.
^ "Most Ocean Pollution Comes From Asian Rivers, Study Says".
International Business Times. 2017-06-09. Retrieved 2017-06-10.
^ WWF China. "The
Yangtze Forum" (PDF). Archived from the original
(PDF) on April 25, 2012. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
^ WWF UK. "Where we work:
China - the Yangtze". Archived from the
original on January 12, 2012. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
^ a b c d e f g h i Ye, S.; Li, Z.; Liu, J;, Zhang, T.; and Xie, S.
Endemism and Conservation Status of Fishes in
Yangtze River Basin, China. pp. 41-66 in: Ecosystems Biodiversity,
InTech. ISBN 978-953-307-417-7.
^ a b Wang, S.; and Xie, Y. (2009).
China species red list. Vol. II
Vertebrates - Part 1. High Education Press, Beijing, China.
^ a b Qiwei, W. (2010). "Acipenser dabryanus".
IUCN Red List of
Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. International Union for
Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 12 November 2015. CS1 maint:
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^ a b Qiwei, W. (2010). "Acipenser sinensis".
IUCN Red List of
Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. International Union for
Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 12 November 2015. CS1 maint:
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^ Meadows, D.; and Coll, H. (2013). Status Review Report of Five
Foreign Sturgeon. National Marine Fisheries Service, Report to Office
of Protected Resources.
^ a b Qiwei, W. (2010). "Psephurus gladius".
IUCN Red List of
Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. International Union for
Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 12 November 2015. CS1 maint:
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^ Zhang,; Wei1, Q.W.; Du, H.; Shen, L.; Li, Y.H.; and Zhao, Y. (2009).
Is there evidence that the
Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius)
still survives in the upper
Yangtze River? Concerns inferred from
hydroacoustic and capture surveys, 2006–2008. Journal of Applied
Ichthyology 25(s2): 95-99. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0426.2009.01268.x.
^ Xinhua (12 January 2007). Chinese Paddlefish Dies in Illegal
Fishing. CRIENGLISH.com (
China Radio International). Retrieved 12
^ Liu, J.; and Cao, W. (1992). Fish resources in the
Yangtze basin and
the strategy for their conservation. Resources and environment in the
Yangtze Valley, 1: 17-23.
^ a b Yiman, L.; and Zhouyang, D. (4 January 2013). Expert calls for
10-year fishing moratorium on
Yangtze River. ChinaDialogue. Retrieved
12 November 2015.
^ Zhang, C.-G.; and Zhao, Y.-H. (2001). Migration of the Chinese
sucker (Myxocyprinus asiaticus) in the
Yangtze River Basin with
discussion on the potential effect of dams on fish. Current Zoology,
^ Xie, P.; and Chen, Y. (1999). Threats to biodiversity in Chinese
inland waters. Ambio, 28: 674-681.
^ a b The Nature Conservancy: China, Places We Protect: The Yangtze
River. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
^ Xing, J.H. (2010). Chinese Alligator Alligator sinensis. Pp. 5–9
in: Manolis, S.C., and Stevenson, C., eds. (2010). Crocodiles. Status
Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Third Edition. IUCN/SSC Crocodile
Specialist Group: Darwin.
^ "The Chinese river dolphin was functionally extinct". baiji.org.
2006-12-13. Archived from the original on January 4, 2007. Retrieved
^ "Sciencemode.com - Home page". Archived from the original on
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^ Rare river dolphin 'now extinct'. BBC News.
^ Ellen Wohl, [A World of Rivers: Environmental Changes on Ten of the
World's Great Rivers], p.287.
^ Smith, A.T.; and Xie, Y. (2008). A Guide to the Mammals of China.
Princeton University Press, New Jersey. ISBN 978-0-691-09984-2.
^ a b AmphibiaWeb (2013). Andrias davidianus. Retrieved 13 November
^ van Dijk, P.P.; Iverson, J.B.; Rhodin, A.G.J.; Shaffer, H.B.; and
Bour, R. (2014). Turtles of the World, 7th Edition: Annotated
Checklist of Taxonomy, Synonymy, Distribution with Maps, and
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^ WWF Global:
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^ Yang Datong, Michael Wai Neng Lau (2004). "Cynops wolterstorffi".
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Ramani, P., and Young, B. (2008). Threatened Amphibians of the World.
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^ a b Wang, H.-Z.; Wang, H.-J.; Liang, X.-M.; Cui, Y.-D. (2003).
"Stocking models of
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Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir japonica sinensis)
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^ a b c Veilleux, É; and de Lafontaine, Y. (2007). Biological
Synopsis of the Chinese Mitten Crab (Eriocheir sinensis). Canadian
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^ Neil Cumberlidge, N.; Ng, P.K.L.; Yeo, D.C.J.; Naruse, T.; Meyer,
K.S.; Esser, L.J. (2011). "Diversity, endemism and conservation of the
freshwater crabs of
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^ Fang, F.; Sun, H.; Zhao, Q.; Lin, C.; Sun, Y.; Gao, W.; Xu, J.;
Zhou, J.; Ge, F.; and Liu, N. (2013). Patterns of diversity, areas of
endemism, and multiple glacial refuges for freshwater crabs of the
genus Sinopotamon in
China (Decapoda: Brachyura: Potamidae). PLOS ONE
^ Didžiulis, Viktoras. "NOBANIS – Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet
– Craspedacusta sowerbyi" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on
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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
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Danielson, Eric N. 2005. The
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Times Editions/Marshall Cavendish. ISBN 981-232-599-9.
Grover, David H. 1992 American Merchant Ships on the Yangtze,
1920-1941. Wesport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers.
Van Slyke, Lyman P. 1988. Yangtze: nature, history, and the river. A
Portable Stanford Book. ISBN 0-201-08894-0
Winchester, Simon. 1996. The River at the Center of the World: A
Journey Up the
Yangtze and Back in Chinese Time, Holt, Henry &
Company, 1996, hardcover, ISBN 0-8050-3888-4; trade paperback,
Owl Publishing, 1997, ISBN 0-8050-5508-8; trade paperback, St.
Martins, 2004, 432 pages, ISBN 0-312-42337-3
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Yangtze River (Chang Jiang).
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Along the
Geographic data related to
Yangtze at OpenStreetMap
The Seven Great Rivers of China
Major rivers of China
Seven Great Rivers of Eastern China
Yangtze · Yellow · Pearl · Heilongjiang · Huai · Hai · Liao
Other major rivers
Yarlung Tsangpo (Horse Spring)
Cities along the Yangtze
Cities (from upper reaches to lower reaches)
(SIchuan see below)
(Yunan see above)
Hunan see below)
Major cities along the Pearl River · Major cities along the Yellow
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