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► THE YANGTZE RIVER AND CRUISES

The Yangtze River or “Yangzi” is part of many China tours and holidays but how much do you know about this mighty river. In this short article I will attempt to bring you up to speed with some of the things you ought to know about Asia’s longest river.

The Longest River In Asia

The first thing to know is just that; the Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and the third longest river in the world. It reaches a staggering 6,418 kilometers from the Glaciers of Tibet, through central China, finally reaching the East China sea at Shanghai.That makes it the longest river in the world that only passes through one country. It’s river basin accommodates one third of the People’s Republic of China’s entire 1.3 billion population. Along with the Yellow River (Huang He), which is where Chinese civilisation began, it holds it’s place at the centre of the culture, history and economy of China. For many thousands of years it has been used by the Chinese people as a source of water, sanitation, irrigation, transport and war. The Three Gorges Dam project that is found near Yichang remains one of the most ambitious engineering projects the world has ever seen completed and is now the world’s largest hydro-electric power station. The Yangtze River Delta, which compromises such mega cities as Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Ningbo and has a combined population well in excess of 100 million, accounts for some 20% of the GDP of the whole of China.

The Yangtze River and Tourism

Most cruises along the river start in the urban sprawl that is Chongqing and take 3 nights to arrive at Yichang taking in the huge Three Gorges Dam project after passing through the three Gorges of Qutang, Wu and Xiling. Qutang Gorge is the grandest of the three, the Wu has the most beautiful scenery and Xiling has the most cutting features.The Dam, which you get to see at the end of the trip, if you are travelling down stream, has to be seen to be believed. 26 turbines produce 18,000 mega watts of electricity. To put that into perspective, that’s over twenty times the electricity created by the Hoover Dam.

All in all this gargantuan river covers so much of China that there are so many things worth seeing along it. From the awe inspiring Glaciers of the Tibet Qinghai plateau in the Tanggula Mountains where it’s source lies to the full 180 degree turn it does at Shigu, turning from North to South. Down pass the Tiger Leaping Gorge near Lijiang in Yunnan Province all the way through the Three Gorges and onto the Yangtze River Delta and the riches of the cities that have built up around it, the Yangtze has something for everyone exploring China. So make sure you make this great river, the lifeblood of China from ancient civilisation to modern superpower, a part of your next visit to the Middle Kingdom and take in some of the wonders of both nature and the power of human engineering.

Article posted by Phil Stanley & Headseast: 13th May 2014

 
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