The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and third longest in the world. The headwaters of the Yangtze are situated at an elevation of about 16,000 feet in the Kunlun Mountains in the southwestern section of Qinghai. It flows generally south through Sichuan into Yuanan then northeast and east across central China through Sichuan, Hubei, Auhui, and Juangsu provinces to its mouth, 3,720 miles, in the East China Sea north of Shanghai. The river has over 700 tributaries but the principal tributaries are the Hun, Yalong, Jialing, Min, Tuo Jiang, and Wu Jiang. The climate ranges from 96 degrees in the summer to cold, brisk temperatures in the winter. Precipitation is high due to the height of the mountains. 

China covers an area of almost 3.7 million square miles and is the most populous country on earth having more than one billion people. The bordering countries include Mongolia, Kazakhstan, India, Nepal, Burma, Vietnam and Korea. The People's Republic is led by Chinese Communist Party and governed by the State Council. The main language spoken is the Mandarin dialect of Chinese but there are more than 150 languages and dialects spoken throughout the country. Approximately 350 million people inhabit the region of the Yangtze. There is plenty of wildlife along the river as well which include the Tibetan antelopes, Mongolian gazelles, and snow leopards, just to name a few. 

Waters of the Yangtze are often used for rice and wheat irrigation. It also has enormous and inexhaustible hydroelectric resources. In 1995 construction began on the Three Gorges Dam near Yichang and is scheduled for completion in 2009. The dam will measure about 600 feet and about 1.5 miles wide. The dam is expected to help control the flooding of the Yangtze River Valley. The Three Gorges (the Qutang Gorge, the Wuxia Gorge, and Xiling Gorge) will also be the largest electricity generating facility in the world. The hydroelectric generators will provide 1/9 of China's total power output.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the construction of the dams. There are 140 villages, 1,600 factories and over 80,000 acres of growable land that will be destroyed. It may also cause animals to become extinct. The area is very prone to earthquakes because it lies directly on a fault line. Actually, the plateau and gorges were created by collision of the Indian-Australian plate, drifting northward, with the Eurasian plate that began over 40 million years ago and continues today.

Return to the Home Page for
Profiles of World's Great Rivers

The above map shows the relationship of China to all of Southeast Asia. To see where the Yangtze flows through China, click here.

The Three Gorges Dam area of the Yangtze is becoming quite famous. Click here for a map of the area in relation to the entire Yangtze.

Yangtze Resources

For Trivia Questions and web sites for further research, click here to go to the Yangtze Resources page.

Yangtze River Online Guest

Yang Xin & Gerald Yang will be joining us as online guests for the Yangtze River!

Betsy Damon's River Art
An American Environmental Artist in China

Chengdu, China. In Betsy Damon's Keepers of the Waters Project, one artist took a series of photographs, made a collection of prints, and, in a public display, allowed the images to visibly decompose in shallow dishes of polluted river water. Click here to learn more.

Center for Global Environmental Education
Hamline University Graduate School of Education
1536 Hewitt Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104-1284
Phone: 651-523-2480 Fax: 651-523-2987
© 2001 CGEE. All Rights Reserved.