Yangtze River Delta

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Yangtze River Delta (YRD)

ISS-30 Nighttime view of Shanghai.jpg
Map of Yangtze River Delta city belt
Map of Yangtze River Delta city belt
Major citiesShanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Ningbo, Wuxi, Nantong, Shaoxing, Changzhou, Jinhua, Jiaxing, Taizhou, Yangzhou, Yancheng, Taizhou, Zhenjiang, Huzhou, Huai'an, Zhoushan, Quzhou, Ma'anshan, Hefei
 • Mayor of ShanghaiYing Yong
 • Governor of JiangsuLi Xueyong
 • Governor of ZhejiangLi Qiang
 • Governor of AnhuiWang Xuejun
 • Totalc. 140,000,000
Time zoneUTC+8 (CST)
Yangtze River Delta
Simplified Chinese长江三角洲
Traditional Chinese長江三角洲
Hanyu PinyinAbout this soundChángjiāng sānjiǎozhōu 
RomanizationZankaon Saekohtseu

The Yangtze River Delta or YRD is a triangle-shaped metropolitan region generally comprising the Wu Chinese-speaking areas of Shanghai, southern Jiangsu province and northern Zhejiang province. The area lies in the heart of the Jiangnan region (literally, "south of the River"), where Yangtze River drains into the East China Sea. The urban build-up in the area has given rise to what may be the largest concentration of adjacent metropolitan areas in the world. It covers an area of 99,600 square kilometres (38,500 sq mi) and is home to over 115 million people as of 2013, of which an estimated 83 million is urban. If based on the greater Yangtze River Delta zone, it has over 140 million people in this region. Having a fertile soil, the Yangtze River Delta abundantly produces grain, cotton, hemp and tea.[1] In 2017, the Yangtze River Delta had a GDP of approximately US$1.5 trillion (or US$3.0 trillion in PPP)[2], about the same size as Russia.

Early history[edit]

Since the fourth century, when the national capital was moved to Jiankang (present-day Nanjing) at the start of the Eastern Jin dynasty (AD 317–420), the Yangtze River Delta has been a major cultural, economic, and political centre of China. Hangzhou served as the Chinese capital during the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279), and Nanjing was the early capital of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) before the Yongle Emperor moved the capital to Beijing in 1421.

Other key cities of the region in pre-modern times include Suzhou and Shaoxing. The ancient Suzhou was the capital of the Wu state (12th century BC–473 BC), and the ancient Shaoxing was the capital of the Yue state (20th century BC?–222 BC). Nanjing first served as a capital in the Three Kingdoms period as the capital of Eastern Wu (AD 229–280). In these periods, there were several concomitant states or empires in China and each one had its own capital.


The delta is one of the most densely populated regions on earth, and includes one of the world's largest cities on its banks — Shanghai, with a density of 2,700 inhabitants per square kilometre (7,000/sq mi). Because of the large population of the delta, and factories, farms, and other cities upriver, the World Wide Fund for Nature says the Yangtze Delta is the biggest cause of marine pollution in the Pacific Ocean.

Most of the people in this region speak Wu Chinese (sometimes called Shanghainese, although Shanghainese is actually one of the dialects within the Wu group of Chinese) as their mother tongue, in addition to Mandarin. Wu is mutually unintelligible with other varieties of Chinese, including Mandarin.

The area of the Yangtze River Delta incorporates more than twenty relatively developed cities in three provinces. The term can be generally used to refer to the entire region extending as far north as Lianyungang, Jiangsu and as far south as Wenzhou, Zhejiang. The region includes some of the fastest-growing economies in China in recent years, and as of 2004 has occupied over 21% of China's total gross GDP.[3]

The greater Yangtze River Delta metropolitan region[edit]

Since the ninth century, the Yangtze Delta has been the most populous area in China, East Asia, and one of the most densely populated areas of the world. During the mid to late period of the Tang dynasty (618-907), the region emerged as an economic centre, and the Yangtze River Delta became the most important agricultural, handicraft industrial and economic centre for the late Tang dynasty.

In the Song dynasty, especially during the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279), with its capital situated in Lin'an (present-day Hangzhou), Lin'an became the biggest city in East Asia with a population more than 1.5 million, and the economic status of the Yangtze Delta became more enhanced. Ningbo became one of the two biggest seaports in East Asia along with Quanzhou (in Fujian province).

During the mid-late Ming dynasty (1368–1644), the first capitalism bud of the East Asia was born and developed in this area, although it was disrupted by the Manchu invasion and controlled strictly and carefully by the Confucian central government in Beijing, it continued its development slowly throughout the rest of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). During the Ming and Qing dynasties, the delta became a large economic centre for the country, and also played the most important role in agriculture and handicraft industry.

During the Qianlong era (1735-1796) of the Qing dynasty, Shanghai began developing rapidly and became the largest port in the Far East. From late 19th century to early 20th century, Shanghai was the biggest commercial centre in the Far East. The Yangtze River Delta became the first industrialized area in China.

After the Chinese economic reform program, which began in 1978, Shanghai again became the most important economic centre in mainland China, and is emerging to become one of Asia's centres for commerce. In modern times, the Yangtze Delta metropolitan region is centred at Shanghai, and also flanked by the major metropolitan areas of Hangzhou, Suzhou, Ningbo, and Nanjing, home to nearly 105 million people (of which an estimated 80 million are urban residents). It is the centre of Chinese economic development, and surpasses other concentrations of metropolitan areas (including the Pearl River delta) in China in terms of economic growth, productivity and per capita income.

Metropolitan areas[edit]

Metropolitan area Chinese Cities Population
Shanghai Metropolitan Area 上海城市圈
Shànghǎi Chéngshì Quān
Shanghai 34,000,000[4]
Jiangsu Yangtze Metropolitan Belt 江苏沿江城市带
Jiāngsū Yánjiāng Chéngshì Dài
Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, Nanjing, Zhenjiang, Yangzhou, Nantong
Changzhou metropolitan area 常州城市圈
Changzhou Chengshi Quan
Changzhou 12,400,000[4]
Zhejiang Hangzhou Greater Bay Area 浙江杭州大湾区
Zhèjiāng Hángzhōu Wān Dàwān Qū
Hangzhou, Ningbo, Shaoxing, Jiaxing, Zhoushan
Hangzhou metropolitan area 杭州都市圈
Hángzhōu dūshì quān
Hangzhou, Shaoxing, Jiaxing, Huzhou[5][6] 13,400,000[4]


In 1982, the Chinese government set up the Shanghai Economic Area. Besides Shanghai, four cities in Jiangsu (Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, Nantong) and five cities in Zhejiang (Hangzhou, Jiaxing, Shaoxing, Huzhou, Ningbo) were included. In 1992, a 14-city cooperative joint meeting was launched. Besides the previous 10 cities, the members included Nanjing, Zhenjiang and Yangzhou in Jiangsu, and Zhoushan in Zhejiang. In 1997, the regular joint meeting resulted in the establishment of the Yangtze River Delta Economic Coordination Association, which included a new member Taizhou in Jiangsu in that year. In 2003, Taizhou in Zhejiang also joined the association. In 2010, the association accepted six new members after a six-year observation and review, including Yancheng and Huai'an in Jiangsu, Jinhua and Quzhou in Zhejiang, and Ma'anshan and Hefei in Anhui. The total number of cities in the Yangtze River Delta Economic Coordination Association is now 22.[7] Some other cities that have been in consideration and in review include Wenzhou and Lishui in Zhejiang, Lianyungang and Xuzhou in Jiangsu, and Chuzhou, Wuhu, Tongling, Huainan and Xuancheng in Anhui.

City Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Wu Regional Population(2010) Non-agricultural Population of Urban Districts(2010)[8] GDP(2011)(billion yuan) Image
Shanghai 上海 Shànghǎi Zaonhe 23,019,148 12,286,274 1,919.57 Shanghai skyline waterfront pudong 5166168 69 70.jpg
南京 Nánjīng Noecin[note 1] 8,004,680 6,852,984 614.55 Nanjing Skyline 2010.jpg
杭州 Hángzhōu Ghaontseu 8,700,400 3,075,212 701.18 China Hangzhou Westlake-6.jpg
Sūzhōu Soutseu 10,465,994 2,424,759 1,071.70 China Suzhou Jinjihu Lake.jpg
Níngbō Nyinpou 7,605,689 1,364,963 601.05 Juncture of three main rivers in Ningbo China.jpg
Wúxī Vusih 6,372,624 2,252,571 688.02 Wuxi-bird-view.PNG
常州 Chángzhōu Zantseu 4,591,972 1,219,557 358.04 20090919 Changzhou 5459.jpg
南通 Nántōng Noethon 7,282,835 1,361,003 408.02 南通.jpg
Shàoxīng Zaushin 4,912,200 481,720 329.12 Shaoxing Cityscape.jpg
Jīnhuá Cinho 4,614,100 321,632 244.77 Jinhua Railway Station in snow.JPG
Jiāxīng Ciashin 4,501,700 428,609 266.81 20090913 Wuzhen 5129.jpg
台州 Tāizhōu Thetseu 5,968,800 310,464 279.49 灵江.JPG
Yángzhōu Ghiantseu[note 1] 4,459,760 1,705,209 263.03 Yangzhou - Hanjiang Zhong Lu - Tesco - P1070310.JPG
Yánchéng Ghiezen[note 1] 7,260,240 892,874 277.13 Funing New Bridge.JPG
泰州 Tàizhōu Thatseu[note 1] 4,618,558 551,730 242.26 Walking street in Jiangyan.jpg
Zhènjiāng Tsenkaon[note 1] 3,113,384 671,808 231.04 Zhenjiang Jinshan.jpg
湖州 Húzhōu Ghoutseu 2,893,500 443,102 151.88 Night in Huzhou.jpg
淮安 Huái'ān Ghuaoe[note 1] 4,799,889 1,133,946 169.00 清江浦 中洲.JPG
舟山 Zhōushān Tseuse 1,121,300 281,423 76.53 Zhoushan cityview.jpg
衢州 Qúzhōu Jiutseu 2,456,100 275,973 89.03 Xiakoutown.jpg
Mǎ'ānshān Mooese[note 1] 1,366,302 532,410 114.42 Huayu Square cross.jpg
合肥 Héféi Ghehvi[note 1] 7,457,466[note 2] 1,783,612 363.66 Hefeiskyline.jpg


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h The dialects in these areas are generally not Wu Chinese.
  2. ^ including Chaohu City and Lujiang County


The area is home to a very extensive transport network that include railways and expressways. The area has one of the highest private vehicle ownership rates in the country, and traffic rules governing Jiangsu, Shanghai, and Zhejiang are relatively strict compared to the rest of the country.

Main bridges[edit]


The region is served by some of the country's largest seaports:

  • Port of Shanghai, sea & river, the world's largest container port and 2nd largest cargo port as of 2013
  • Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan, sea & river, the world's largest cargo port as of 2013
  • Port of Suzhou, river & lake, the world's sixth largest cargo port as of 2013
  • Port of Lianyungang, sea port (not actually situated within the delta itself, but at the northern tip of the Jiangsu coastline)
  • Port of Wenzhou, sea & river (not in the delta itself, but in southern Zhejiang province)


The region has nine major airports, whose area of coverage is generally around an hour's drive from any point of the delta. They include:



High-speed Rail[edit]

Urban Rapid Transit[edit]


Light Rail[edit]

Bus Rapid Transit[edit]


Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm

The Yangtze Delta has a marine monsoon subtropical climate, with hot and humid summers, cool and dry winters, and warm spring and fall. Winter temperatures can drop as low as -10 °C (a record), however, and even in springtime, large temperature fluctuations can occur.

Fishing and agriculture[edit]

The Yangtze River Delta contains the most fertile soils in all of China. Rice is the dominant crop of the delta, but further inland fishing rivals it. In Qing Pu, 50 ponds, containing five different species of fish, produce 29,000 tons of fish each year. One of the biggest fears of fish farmers in this region is that toxic water will seep into their man-made lagoons and threaten their livelihood.


  1. ^ "Yangtze (Yangzi, Changjiang) River Delta". China Today. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  2. ^ http://data.stats.gov.cn/english
  3. ^ Shanghai Vice-Mayor Zhou Yupeng: 周禹鹏:加快推进长三角城市群的连带发展 People.cn retrieved 2010-01-09
  4. ^ a b c OECD Urban Policy Reviews: China 2015, OECD READ edition. OECD iLibrary. OECD. 18 April 2015. p. 37. doi:10.1787/9789264230040-en. ISBN 9789264230033. ISSN 2306-9341.Linked from the OECD here
  5. ^ "杭州都市圈蓝皮书 杭州都市圈经济社会发展报告(2007~2012)——社科文献出版社 您的选择! (Hangzhou metropolitan area blue book)". 12 May 2013. Archived from the original on 8 November 2012.
  6. ^ "Hangzhou City Profile 2017" (PDF). Jones Lang LaSalle IP, Inc. 2017.
  7. ^ a b 合肥马鞍山挤上“长三角快车” (in Chinese).
  8. ^ source from 《中华人民共和国全国分县市人口统计资料2010》
  9. ^ "Longest Bridge - Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 11 December 2012.

External links[edit]