Yangtze River in Brief

Yangtze River

Yangtze Three Gorges

The Yangtze River, or Chang Jiang (literally "The Long River") is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for 6,300 kilometres (3,915 mi) from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the biggest rivers by discharge volume in the world. The Yangtze drains one-fifth of China's land area and its river basin is home to one-third of China's population. Along with the Yellow River, the Yangtze is the most important river in the history, culture and economy of China. The prosperous Yangtze River Delta generates as much as 40% of China's GDP. The river is an important physical and cultural dividing line between North and South China. Chinese living north of the Yangtze speak varying dialects of Mandarin. Most of the provinces south of the river have native Sinitic languages that are unintelligible to Mandarin-speakers.

Xiling Gorge

Yangtze Xiling Gorge

The Yangtze River flows through a diverse array of ecosystems and is itself habitat to several endemic and endangered species including the Yangtze River dolphin, Chinese alligator, and the Yangtze sturgeon. For thousands of years, man has used the river 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 Yangtze flowing through deep gorges in western Yunnan is part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Names

Yangtze River, also spelled Yangtse River, Yangzi River and Yangtze Kiang, is derived from Yangzi Jiang , the local name for a stretch of the lower Yangtze near Yangzhou. "Yanzi" was the name of a village and site of an ancient ferry crossing, and Jiang is one of the Chinese names for river.In the 13th century, the famous Song Dynasty official, Wen Tianxiang penned a poem entitled Yangzi Jiang. Later, Western missionaries heard the name and applied it to the entire river.

The Chinese use distinct official names for different stretches of the river.

Wu Gorge

Yangtze Wu Gorge

Chang Jiang ("Long River") is the name for the last 2,884km of the Yangtze from the confluence with the Min River (Sichuan) at Yibin to its mouth at Shanghai. In ancient times, this river was simply known as Jiang or the Da Jiang (the great river). Stretches of Chang Jiang have local names such as the Chuanjiang (for the Sichuan portion of the river from Yibin to Yichang), Jingjiang (for the Jingzhou section of the river) and Yangzi Jiang (near Yangzhou). The entire Chang Jiang is navigable and also known as the Golden Waterway.

Jinsha River or Gold Sands River ("Golden Sands River") refers to 2,308km of the Yangtze upstream from Yibin to the confluence with the Batang River, near Yushu.

Tongtian River ("river passing through heaven") refers to the 813km stretch of the Yangtze from Yushu upstream to the confluence of the Tuotuo River and Dangqu, which together forms the Tongtian. Tuotuo River refers to the longest of the headwater streams of the Yangtze. It arises from glaciers south of the Geladandong Mountain in Qinghai and flows west for 343km where it meets with the Dangqu and forms the Tongtian.