Yangtze River, or Chang Jiang, the longest river in China. Although the name Yangtze (or Chang) is usually used for the entire river, it is also known as the Tongtian in its upper course and the Jinsha in its middle course. The Yangtze flows southeastward from its source in western China. It then flows north and eastward, emptying into the East China Sea north of Shanghai. Total length is about 3,400 miles (5,470 km). Among the Yangtze's chief tributaries are the Yalong, Min, Jialing, Wu, Xiang, Han, and Gan rivers.
Navigable through most of its course, the Yangtze has long been a major transportation artery. Wuhan, 630 miles (1,010 km) upstream from the mouth, is the head of navigation for oceangoing vessels. The rich Yangtze Plain, which borders the river, is one of the most intensively cultivated and heavily populated regions in the world. Among the many large cities along the river, in addition to Wuhan, are Nanjing and Chongqing. Unlike the Yellow River, to the north, the Yangtze has few devastating floods.