Debated to be the longest river in the world, the Yangtze River has been an intriguing and fascinating part of Chinese history since it was first discovered over 3,900 years ago. During this time, the river has been affectionately considered as the “Mother River” of China, making it one of the most vibrant and eye-catching rivers in the world.
From the source located high up in the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, to its terminus at the East China Sea, the Yangtze, or Changjiang in Chinese, meanders and curves its way through some of the most bountiful and vibrant locations in China, creating an immersive and picturesque destination.
One of the most prominent features of the Yangtze River is its total length of over 6,300 kilometers. Travellers who choose to venture on a journey along the Yangtze, will find a grand array of landscape from the misty and humid slopes of Tibet in the West, to the densely populated and extremely misty regions of the Yangtze Delta in the East.
Along its journey, the Yangtze River passes through bustling cities such as Chongqing, Wuhan, and Shanghai, while also traversing through numerous narrow and spectacular gorges like the Three Gorges, Xiling Gorge and Jingzhou Gorge. These allurements are connected, then met with tranquil and peaceful creeks, hidden valleys, and vivid stone forests.
Travelers can look forward to some of the most awe-inspiring and breathtaking scenery that China has to offer, including the West Lake of Hangzhou, the “Jiuzhaigou Valley of Fairyland” in Sichuan, and the Longgan Temple of Hunan. Every destination features unmissable sights, with the highlight being the majestic gold-sanded waterfall of the majestic Three Gorges.
Along with the visually astounding meandering, the Yangtze River has also been immensely influential over the centuries. This not only extends to traditional Chinese literature and culture, but also to the many riverside settlements, urban cities, ancient temples, and historical landmarks along the way. As a result, the Yangtze River has been the center of social life and daily activities in China since time immemorial.
From the physical and cultural perspectives, the Yangtze River remains an integral part of the Chinese civilization and culture, drawing both locals and tourists alike to explore the many locations and sites along the 6,300 kilometer long trip. After all, the Yangtze River is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the Chinese culture and history that China has to offer.
The thriving landscape and environment along the Yangtze River has attracted a plethora of wildlife from both China and beyond. Some of the most prominent animals along the Yangtze include the Yangtze sturgeon, the Yangtze River dolphin and the Chinese alligator.
Various species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds can also be seen along the Yangtze River. These include the Chinese softshell turtle, the Mandarin Duck, the Chinese white-flag dolphin, and the Chinese giant salamander. Furthermore, there are also numerous mammals including the Chinese inner-river minke whale, the Chinese warty pig, and the Chinese serow.
The Yangtze River serves as a major habitat and source of food for these wildlife and is extremely important for maintaining their populations. As a result, their presence paints a breathtaking and radiant view of the Yangtze which keeps tourists coming back for more.
Unfortunately, the Yangtze River has become heavily polluted in recent years. This is mainly due to rapid industrialization and rapid urbanization in the areas around the Yangtze River over the past few decades.
Various types of sewage and industrial wastes have been freely discharged into the waters, resulting in an array of environmental issues including water shortages, water degradation, excessive sedimentation and eutrophication. The use of various harmful chemicals has further exacerbated these problems, leading to death or migration of many of the creatures that once lived in the river.
The Yangtze Dam
In an attempt to reduce the impact of the pollution, the Chinese government has invested heavily in the construction of the Yangtze Dam–the world’s largest dam–which was completed in 2006.
The dam was built to control the flow of the Yangtze, in order to reduce flooding downstream, and to generate hydroelectric power. It is clear that the Chinese government has gone to great lengths in an attempt to reduce the pollution and damage to the Yangtze River.
The Three Gorges Project
One of the most ambitious attempts to reduce the devastation caused by the Yangtze River is the Three Gorges Project. This huge undertaking was designed to help alleviate some of the flooding issues caused by the Yangtze by constructing three giant reservoirs across its length.
It becomes very clear that any adventure along the Yangtze will reveal breathtaking views of the iconic river. The overwhelming importance of the Yangtze and its influence over millennia of Chinese culture can be witnessed first-hand, clearly making it the “Mother River” of China, and a destination that cannot go unmissed.
The Effects of the Yangtze
The Yangtze River is one of the most prosperous and richest rivers in the world, as evidenced by its rapidly progressing economy, infrastructure, and its close ties to Chinese culture. Consequently, the Yangtze River has brought a mixed bag of prosperity and destruction all at the same time.
The pollution of the river has created a plethora of arduous health and environmental issues, which the Chinese government has responded to and the successes can be seen. However, the magnitude of the damages is still visible, putting a damper on the wonders of the Mother River.
The Economy of The Yangtze
Despite the pollution issues, The Yangtze River has been highly prosperous, becoming a major source of both wealth and resources for its inhabitants as well as an accessible route and source of trade between cities.
From the ancient civilizations along the river, to the modern population, the Yangtze has developed an influential role in the Chinese economy. This is mainly due to its proximity with the rest of the country and its diverse and rich resources.
For instance, the Three Gorges Dam is one of the world’s largest hydroelectric power plants, supplying electricity to both the local and global economies. Furthermore, trade and tourism have become integral sources of income and wealth for the Chinese population as a result of its rich history and boundless beauty.
The environment of the Yangtze has also had a large impact on the Chinese culture, influencing the people and their livelihoods for centuries.
Various climatic conditions are experienced along the Yangtze, from its frigid temperatures in the remotest areas, to its humid and tropical environments in the more populous locations. As a direct result, these conditions have had an immense impact on the farming and agricultural industry, with the Yangtze region propelling much of China’s agricultural exports.
The Yangtze River is also known for its monsoon season that usually occurs between April and September and brings heavy winds and rain. As a result, many of the various wildlife that inhabits both the river and its locations have adapted to the change in climate, leading to the marvelous and eye-catching beauty of the region.
The immense importance of the Yangtze is further reinforced by the sheer amount of people that inhabit the 6,300 kilometer route. After all, it is one of the most populous rivers in the world with more than 400 million people living along its region.
Amidst the roaring wind, pouring rains and voluminous river, there are a myriad of villages, towns and cities that have flourished along its embankments. These locations offer a glimpse into the past and present of the Chinese culture, from ancient temples amidst extravagant sceneries, to modernized and well-maintained cities.
The people that have lived along the Yangtze River have also developed a form of tradition and culture that has been shared down the line since its discovery. Musical instruments such as the Hulusi, as well as activities such as The Long March Rally and boat racing, highlight the recreation and culture inspired by the Yangtze.
Ultimately, the Yangtze River is an amazing phenomenon that has fascinated the world for centuries. Its antiquity is carefully woven into the nature of the river, creating an unforgettable and enthralling journey for travellers from all over the globe. From the calmness of its peaceful creeks, to the wonders of its gold-sanded waterfall, the Yangtze River continues to hold its position as an invaluable hallmark of Chinese culture and civilization.