The River Yangtze

The Yangtze River, or Chang Jiang (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Cháng Jiāng), Tibetan: 'Bri-chu, is the longest river in China and Asia, and the third-longest in the world, after the Nile in Africa and the Amazon in South America.

The river is about 6,385 km long (3915 mi) and flows from its source in Qinghai Province, eastwards into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It acts as a dividing line between North and South China, although geographers generally consider the Qinling-Huai River line to be the official line of geographical division. As the largest river in the region, the Yangtze is historically, culturally, and economically important to China. One of the dams on the river, the Three Gorges Dam, is the largest hydro-electric power station in the world.[2] The section of the river flowing through deep gorges in Yunnan province is part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas: a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The name Yangtze River, as well as various similar names such as Yangtse River, Yangzi River, Yangtze Kiang, etc., is derived from Yangzi Jiang (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Yángzǐ Jiāng) Chinese-YangZiJiang.ogg listen (help·info), which, beginning in the Sui Dynasty, was the Chinese name for the river in its lower reaches, specifically, the stretch between Yangzhou (扬州) and Zhenjiang (镇江). The name comes from the ancient ferry crossing Yangzi Jin (扬子津, meaning "Yangzi Crossing"). From the Ming Dynasty, the name was sometimes written 洋子 (yángzĭ). Because it was the name first heard by missionaries and traders, this name was applied in English to the whole river. In Chinese, Yangzi Jiang is considered a historical or poetic name for the river. The modern Chinese name, Chang Jiang (长江/長江 Cháng Jiāng), literally means "long 'Jiang'" (Jiang is the classical Chinese of Yangtze, but now it means river) and may sometimes also be used in English. It is also known to many as the 'Main Street' of China.

Like many rivers, the river is known by different names over its course. At its source, it is called in Chinese the Dangqu (当曲, from the Tibetan for "marsh river"). Downstream, it is called the Tuotuo River (沱沱河) and then the Tongtian River (通天河, literally "river passing through heaven"). Where it runs through deep gorges parallel to the Mekong and the Salween before emerging onto the plains of Sichuan, it is known as the Jinsha River (金沙江 Jīnshā Jiāng, literally "golden sands river").