The Yangtze River () is the longest river in Asia and the third longest in the world after the Amazon in South America and the Nile in Africa. The Chinese name of the river is Chang Jiang (), and this name is also found on many modern maps in English.
The name Yangzi (whence the Yangtze) was originally used by local people to refer to the lower reaches of the river. However, because this was the name first heard by missionaries and traders, it has been applied in English to the entire river. This name is found in many forms, including Yangtse River, Yangtsze Kiang, etc. Where it runs through deep gorges in parallel to the Mekong and the Salween before emerging onto the plains of Sichuan it is known to the Chinese as the Jinsha river (金沙江 Jīnshā-jiāng or 'Golden Sands River'). The Yangtze is sometimes referred to as the Golden Waterway.
The river is about 6,380 km long. It has traditionally been considered a dividing point between north China and south China, although the Huai River also shares the claim.
The Yangtze flows into the East China Sea. As of June 2003, the Three Gorges Dam now spans the river, flooding Fengjie , the first of a number of towns affected by the massive flood control and power generation project. The project is the largest comprehensive irrigation project in the world. It will free people living along the river from floods that have repeatedly threatened them in the past, and will also offer them electricity and water transport - though at the expense of permanently flooding many existing towns and causing large-scale changes in local ecology.
The river is the sole habitat of the critically endangered Chinese River Dolphin and Chinese paddlefish.
The river is a major transportation artery for China connecting the interior with the coast. River traffic includes commercial traffic transporting bulk goods such as coal as well as manufactured goods and passengers. River cruises of several days duration especially through the beautiful and scenic Three Gorges area are becoming popular as a tourism industry grows in China.
Flooding along the river has been a major problem, most recently in 1998, but more disastrously the 1954 Yangtze river floods killed around 30,000 people. Other severe floods include those of 1911 which killed around 100,000, 1931 (145,000 dead) and 1935 (142,000 dead).
Major cities along the river
- 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 & Back in Chinese Time, Holt, Henry & Company, 1996, hardcover, ISBN 0805038884; trade paperback, Owl Publishing, 1997, ISBN 0805055088; trade paperback, St. Martins, 2004, 432 pages, ISBN 0312423373
Chang Jiang (Cantonese: Cheung Kong), named after this river, is also the name of the holding company controlled by Li Ka-Shing, one of Asia's richest tycoons.
In 2004 Martin Strel from Slovenia swam the river from the Tiger Leaping Gorge to Shanghai (4600 km, 2860 miles).
Xiangjiang is also the name of a motorcycle brand .
Last updated: 06-01-2005 22:37:03