Yangtze River, China

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Yangtze River

The largest river in China and the third largest river in the world, the 6,300-kilometer-long Yangtze River plays an important role in China.

The Yangtze River basin - with its fertile soil, highly developed agriculture and abundant mineral deposits - is densely populated with more than 400 million mu of cultivated land or about one-fourth of the country’s total.

The trunk and branch rivers of the Yangtze River boast a total power potential of 268 million kilowatts, or 40 percent of the country’s total, and a navigable length of more than 70,000 kilometers which makes the Yangtze River the major water transport artery between west and east.

The Yangtze River starts at he Jianggendiru Glacier on the southwestern foothills of the 6,621-m, snow-covered Geladandong, the main peak of the Tanggula Mountains I southwestern Qinghai Province.

It flows past Qinghai, Tibet, Yunnan, Sichuan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu and Shanghai, where it empties into the East China Sea. Important cities along the way are Chongqing, Wuhan, Nanjing and Shanghai.

The Yangtze flows into the East China Sea and was navigable by ocean-going vessels up to a thousand miles from its mouth even before the Three Gorges Dam was built. The project is the largest comprehensive irrigation project in the world.

Yangtze River 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 Yangtze River is one of the world's busiest waterways. River traffic includes commercial traffic transporting bulk goods such as coal as well as manufactured goods and passengers.

Cargo transportation on the Yangtze River reached 795 million tonnes in 2005. River cruises of several days duration especially through the beautiful and scenic Three Gorges area are becoming popular as the tourism industry grows in China.

The Yangtze river occupies an important place in the cultural origins of southern China. Human activity was found in the Three Gorges area as far back as 2 million years ago, initiating debate over the origin of the Chinese people.

Historically, the mighty Yangtze river became the political boundary between north China and south China several times because of the difficulty of crossing the river. A lot of battles took place along the river, the most famous being the Battle of Red Cliffs in 208 AD during the Three Kingdoms period.

Politically, Nanjing was the capital of China several times, although most of the time its territory only covered the southeastern part of China, such as the Wu kingdom in the Three Kingdoms period, the Eastern Jin Dynasty, and smaller countries in the Northern and Southern Dynasties and Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms periods. Only the Ming occupied most parts of China from their capital at Nanjing. The ROC capital was located in Nanjing in the periods 1911-1912, 1927-1937, 1945-1949.