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Yangtze River

Yangtze River is the longest river of Asia, about 6300 km (about 3937 mile) in length. It rises in the Kunlun Mountains in the southwestern section of Qinghai Province in China, and flows generally south through Sichuan Province into Yunnan Province, where, in the vicinity of Huize, it bends sharply to the northeast. Then, it flows generally northeast and east across central China through Sichuan, Hubei, Anhui, and Jiangsu Provinces to its mouth in the East China Sea, about 23 km north of Shanghai.

The headwaters of the Yangtze are situated at an elevation of about 4900 meters (about 16,000 feet). In its descent to sea level, the river falls to an altitude of 305 meters (1000 feet) at Yibin, Sichuan Province, the head of navigation for riverboats, and to 192 meters (630 feet) at Chongqing. Between Chongqing and Yichang, at an altitude of 40 meters (130 feet) and a distance of about 320 km, it passes through the spectacular Yangtze Gorges, which are noted for their natural beauty but are dangerous to shipping. Yichang, 1600 km from the sea, is the head of navigation for river steamers; oceangoing vessels may navigatethe river to Hankou, a distance of almost 1000 km from the sea. For about 320 km inland from its mouth, the river is virtually at sea level.

More than 1,683,500 sq km of territory is drained by the Yangtze and its branches. The principal tributaries are the Han, Yalong, Jialing, Min, and Tuo He, on the north and on the south, the Wu; at Zhenjiang, the Grand Canal links the Yangtze to the yellow River. During periods of heavy rains, Lakes Dongting and Poyang receive some of the overflow of the Yangtze. Despite these outlets, floods caused by the river occasionally have caused great destruction of life and property.

With its numerous tributaries and feeders, the Yangtze provides a great transportation network through the heart of some of the most densely populated and economically important areas in China. Among the principal cities on the Yangtze, in addition to those cited in the foregoing, are Wuchang, Nanjing, Hanyang, and Anqing. Jiangsu Province, largely a deltaic plain consisting of silt deposited by the Yangtze (more than 170 million cu m/6 billion cu feet annually), is one of the chief rice-growing areas of China.

Although the entire river is known as the Yangtze River to foreigners, the Chinese apply that designation only to the last 480 or 645 km of its course, the portion traversing the region identified with the Yang kingdom (flourished about 10th century BC). From its upper reaches to Yibin, the river is called the Jinsha River (Golden Sand) and various other names are applied in the provinces it traverses. The official name for the entire river is Yangtze River or Chang Jiang (Long River).

Attractions along the Yangtze River


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