The Yangzi Valley
Physical characteristics: Separated from other regions by mountains and
extensive wetlands is the Yangzi (Yangtze or Changjiang-"long river");
its tributaries and lakes are the focus of life and economics in the
valley. Summers tend to be hot, humid, and rainy along the river, while
winters are brief but cold.
History: The Yangzi Valley has traditionally been an important food
producer. The river has been the center of economic life, bringing
trade and influences from distant places. During the twentieth century,
initiatives to dam the Yangzi have brought about drastic changes in the
landscape, economy, and lives of the people living in the Yangzi
Valley, forcing many to relocate.
Economic activities and resources today: Fishing and boat commerce
dominate life and culture. Cities, such as Chongqing (in Sichuan
province), Wuhan, and Nanjiang, are driven by economies tied to
water-borne transportation and commerce-not agriculture or even food
processing. Major manufacturing centers exist along the river because
it is a cheap means of transport. There are large numbers of people who
spend their entire lives on small or medium boats, making a living
moving goods and people via the numerous lakes, canals, and rivers of
the entire Yangzi valley.
Housing: white-plastered, multistoried houses with black tiled roofs, houseboats, apartments in cities
Social organization: commercial/trade "families"
Transportation: river and canal boats, trucks, cars, bicycles in cities
Food staples: rice and fish