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Yangtze River and the Three Gorges
Situated in the heart of China, the Yangtze River is the longest river in China and the third longest in the World. The River winds almost 4000 miles through the country from west to east. The best way to discover China's heartland is to travel along the scenic Yangtze River, passing through picturesque natural scenery and experiencing ancient Chinese history. The Yangtze starts about 18,000 miles above sea level on the Gelandandong Mountain in the Tibetan highlands. Though melting glaciers start the Yangtze as a small trickling stream, many tributaries cause it to gain volume very quickly. At Chongqing, three larger rivers meet the Yangtze, which then flows eastward through the famous Three Gorges and fertile Sichuan Basin. Not until Yichang, a town 27 miles east of the Three Gorges Dam site, does the river widen and slow down.
According to ancient records, Chongqing was founded as early as the 4th century BC. The city was almost completely destroyed during the 1930's and 40's, but has since rebounded to become one of China's largest cities. Departing from Chongqing, the riverbanks of the Yangtze are crowded with factories, but before long this gives way to a lush terraced countryside dotted with small villages.
Three Gorges
One of nature's most extraordinary sculptures has been carved along the Yangtze River from Fengjie in the west to Yichang in the east; the Three Gorges. The first, Qutang Gorge, is the shortest (5 miles), the narrowest (500 feet) and most dramatic. Below Wushan is the Witches Gorge, which is best known for it's twelve unique peaks (six lining each side of the river), which are often hidden in swirls of mist. The final Gorge, Xiling, is the longest (41 miles) and the deepest. It is in fact comprised of seven smaller gorges, whose names are based on ancient legends. At the Eastern end of the Xiling Gorge are the three locks of the Gezhou Dam.
Three Gorges Dam Site
Once completed, the Three Gorges Dam will be the largest, most expensive dam in the world. Approximately two million people will have been relocated to higher ground or distant cities by the time the Three Gorges Dam is completed in the year 2009. The Dam site will serve to contain the water levels of the Yangtze to prevent devastating flooding. It will also provide clean, inexpensive power, amounting to 15% of China's total power production.
Wuhan is built where two great rivers, the Yangtze, and the Han, converge. These great rivers once formed distinct boundaries between the original tri-cities of Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang, but today these three areas have become linked together in a giant, sprawling metropolis. At a population of 5 million, Wuhan is the largest industrial city in central China and is also a major water and rail transportation hub.

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