Anders Bekeken

100 Places To Remember: The Yangtze River Peoples Republic of China

Geschreven op 29-5-2010 - Erik van Erne. Geplaatst in Natuur Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

100places to rememberThe Golden Gateway between East and West. If you havent travelled up the mighty Yangtze, you havent been anywhere. (Chinese saying). The Yangtze River snakes its way from the Tibetan plateau through several of Chinas provinces before it flows into the East China Sea. Stretching for 6,300 km, it is the longest river in Asia, and is surpassed only by the Amazon in South America and the Nile in north-east Africa.

The winding Yangtze River has created some of Chinas most impressive landscapes. The deep valleys, hills densely covered in greenery and steep walls slicing into the muddy water of the Yangtze are a compelling sight. The famous Three Gorges are particularly renowned for their dramatic beauty.

In the middle and lower regions of the Yangtze, where the climate is warm and humid, the earliest cultivation of rice on Earth began some 8,000 years ago. Today, the agricultural areas of the Yangtze generate almost half the total crop production in China in total, China accounts for about a third of the worlds rice production.

Roughly 500 million people depend on the Yangtze for fresh water, and the river sustains cities like Shanghai and Nanjing. Known as the Golden Gateway linking eastern and western China, the Yangtze has served as a transportation highway for millennia.

Due to the diminishing of the Tibetan glaciers, the flow of the once mighty Yangtze River will dwindle during the dry season in future. By the end of the 21st century, the glaciers that feed the Yangtze River will have decreased by more than 60%. This will reduce the availability of fresh water in large parts of China all year round, with immense human, ecological and economic costs. Rice yields are expected to drop considerably, not only affecting the Chinese people but also making serious inroads into the worlds food supply.

Fed by the fertile soil, terraced paddy fields cover the Yangtze plains. Rice is indispensable in Chinese culture in classical Chinese, the same character is used for rice and agriculture and the subject is steeped in ritual and myth.

Farmers along the Yangtze still cultivate rice by hand, using traditional methods. The seed rice is pre-germinated in trays and after 30-50 days the young rice plants are planted in the soft muddy soil of the rice paddies, which have been flooded by rain or river water. The fields are regularly irrigated by dyke-controlled canals or by hand, and finally drained before being harvested.

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