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Where is the Yangtze River and what are its characteristics? Essay

* China is situated in East Asia, on the western shore of the Pacific Ocean. The People’s Republic of China has an area of approximately 9.6km sq2 and is the third largest country in the World next only to Russia and Canada.

* China has a land border of 22,800km and is surrounded by 15 countries: Korea to the east; the People’s Republic of Mongolia to the north; Russia towards the north – east; Kazakhstan, Kinghistan, Tajikistan to the north – west; Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan to the west; Vietnam, Laos and Myumar border the south of China.

* China is located to the west of the Phillipines, Japan, Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia. The Bohai and the Yellow Sea line its eastern and southern regions – these maritime areas have an area of 4.73km2.

* China is surrounded by 5,400 small islands which are collectively acknowledged as the South China Sea Islands. These islands, the largest being Taiwan (36,00km2), are divided into three groups: Xishu, Zhongshu and Nansha.

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* The Yangtze River (aka the Chang Jiang of the Yellow River) is the longest river in Asia and is the third longest in the world next only to the Nile and the Amazon. It is approximately 6300km (approximately 3937 sq. miles) in length.

* It rises in the Kunlun Mountains in the south – western sector of the Qinghai province. The river initially flows south through the Sichuan province into the Yunnan Province where it abruptly diverts to the north – east through the proximity of Huize. Afterwards, the water runs northeast and east across central China through the Sichuan, Hubei, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces until it reaches its mouth in the East China Sea, which is 23km (approximately 14 sq. miles) north of Shanghai.

* The uppermost part of the river is placed at a height of 4900m (approximately 16,00ft). It descends to an altitude of 305 m (approximately 1000ft) at Yibin in the Sichuan province where the majority of riverboats are usually navigated. The river then declines to 192m (630ft) at Chongqing, Between Chonqing and Yichang, the water travels through the fantastic Yangtze Gorges at an elevation of 40m (130ft) and a distance of about 320km (approximately 200 miles) from the sea. The Yangtze Gorges are beautiful yet they propose danger to ships. Yichang is a popular destination where the river steamers are navigated.

* The plentiful tributaries of the Yangtze provide an excellent transport network allowing traders to commerce in some of the most populace cities in China (in actual fact – the world). As an economically less developed country (ELDC), China has an inferior road network due to lack of investment into the country. This concludes that fewer people have cars as they earn smaller wages than economically more developed countries and cannot afford to buy cars and provide a consistent petrol supply for vehicles. Hence the Yangtze is vital in order for people to communicate and operate beyond their local areas.

Wuchang, Nanjing, Hanyang and Anqing are principal cities that border the river whilst the Jiangsu province is one of the leading rice – growing areas of China. Once again, the river provides a means of transport for those wanting to buy or sell rice.

* Unlike seas, which contain saltwater, rivers are freshwater sources. Freshwater is profitable for the public. It is a renewable supply of water needed for crop growth and so farmers need not worry about having to rely on poor water systems similar to those of other ELDC’s to nourish their crops required to feed themselves and their families and to provide an income by selling it to others.

* People living in ELDC’s usually lack facilities, for example many live in shantytowns and are oblivious to electricity, efficient sewerage systems, washing machines etc. Therefore the Yangtze is an excellent provision in which the majority of the poor Chinese population can wash clothes, clean them, cook, nourish crops. A resourceful amount of water also makes it easier for farmers to breed animals such as chickens, cattle etc. This means that the animals can reproduce to establish a new generation once they are slaughtered to provide food for personal consumption and trade.

* The Yangtze harbours a unique ecosystem and contains a huge haven rich with fish and various creatures worthy of human ingestion. Consequently, the river provides a reserve of food for those who struggle with little or no revenue who cannot afford to squander money when it is already sparse.

* The Yangtze is home to some of the world’s most picturesque sights desired by people the world over. Thus, many people cultivate an interest in the landscape of the Yangtze and make an effort to witness its beauty. Tourists to the Yangtze promote jobs along the river, for example, in order for cruises to happen along the river, boat drivers are required. An increase in the amount of visitors to the river means that a demand for restaurants and tour guides eventuates. These jobs are beneficial for they do not require skills adopted from higher education. As China is an ELDC, fewer people have the advantage to go to school and it is likely that the majority of the population is illiterate. Therefore they cannot employ jobs that require knowledge for it is likely that they have greater ability to complete primary jobs. Those that live upon the Yangtze are probably familiar with the area and so it does not require a lot for them to inform tourists about what they know about the river.

The type of boat used for cruising along the river has a simple structure, they

do not require fuel, and are made from wood that is easily accessed from the

surrounding trees. As a result, those that are not acquired with an education

would find it easy to drive along the river to entertain guests whiles earning

money at the same time.

The Chinese are world famous for their culinary skills, as they cook primarily with rice, meat and vegetables, they would be able to prepare food with the resources that they have in order to sell it for competitive prices to visitors.

* The diagram below divides the river into three separate segments and shows specific characteristics of each part of the river:


* The Three Gorges Dam appeals to be a significant step for the Chinese population in order to control hydrological activity. Prior to the dam’s erection, there have been many participants that have shaped China’s vulnerability to flooding from the Yangtze.

* Floods have tormented the indigenous community of the Yangtze River for centuries. Not a decade has passed during the last 2000 years where there hasn’t been a flood. Once a flood occurs, its hyperactive movements cause harsh damage and it is estimated that �2.9 billion is required to successfully repair complete annihilation.

* At least 1,683,500 sq. km (approximately 650,000 sq. miles) of terrain is drained by the Yangtze River during a flood. The primary tributaries are the Han, Yalong, Jialing, Min, Tuo He, on the north and on the south of the river and the Wu at Zhenjiang. Despite these outlets being capable of storing surplus water during periods of heavy rainfall, floods have previously caused much devastation to property and the Chinese community. Below is a table advertising major flood events in China caused by the Yangtze:




This was the largest flood in 800 years, it affected most of the Yangtze drainage basin particularly the upstream of Yichang but hardly at Hankou.


145,000 people lost their lives to severe flooding which shattered Hankou sternly.


Floods reach high levels at Hankou. An increase in local rainfall affects the Hanjiang.


This was the worst flood of the 20th century, 300,000 people were killed and 18.9 million were affected. This was the highest flood recorded at Hankou.


This was the worst flood since 1954. 4,000

people were killed and millions were exiled.

Smaller dams were paralysed which increased the

risk of further flooding.

* The flood system is intricate due to the size of the Yangtze’s drainage basin. Floods are caused by local rain – surplus water that the river cannot hoard, spills onto the riverbanks and runs onto land where water is not supposed to travel.

* In 1998, the floods were worsened when a combination of heavy winter snows on the Tibetan plateau and torrential rain between June and mid – August which had knock – on effects on the lower zones of the river. 1000mm of rainwater were falling each day and this precipitation found itself to Lou Shui to cause flooding.

* Although environmental factors take part in circulating floods, human activity was discovered to play an essential role. The flood flow was not responsible for increased flooding but the rise in flood level due to siltation on the riverbed causes injury. In the upper segment of the river between the plateau of Tibet and Yichang, soil erosion is accountable for the flooding.

* Commercial logging in China has inevitably lessened the amount of foliage hence there has been a reduction in infiltration. A loss of water storage has been introduced and soil exposure has increased and has caused an escalation in soil and water transportation downwards. The force of water pounding onto the soil creates a watery mud which flows over surfaces more quickly and easily than solids. This means that the soil combined with the water is prone to movement and travels further along the riverbed picking up more soil as it moves and creating further soil exposure, which then follows the same method once it is unleashed to the water. Siltation, therefore has caused lake and riverbeds to increase in height by nearly 2 metres in 30 years. This welcomes depreciation in the capacity of natural hold in the middle and lower sectors of the river.

* Population strains have shrunk the amount of land required for flood control. Farmers have intruded onto areas susceptible to flooding which are planned to contain water. This rapid urban expansion has reduced infiltration – land where water could once be absorbed into the soil with ease has become an ideal settlement for people who have evacuated places elsewhere due to previous flooding. This means that the river water has had to divert and the amount of liquid is not proportional to the surface area causing unwanted inundations.

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