Jump to content

Yangtze Delta

Coordinates: 32°10′33″N 119°25′51″E / 32.1759°N 119.4307°E / 32.1759; 119.4307
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Yangtze River Delta)
Yangtze Delta
Map of Yangtze Delta city belt
Map of Yangtze Delta city belt
Coordinates: 32°10′33″N 119°25′51″E / 32.1759°N 119.4307°E / 32.1759; 119.4307
Major citiesShanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Ningbo, Wuxi, Nantong, Shaoxing, Changzhou, Jinhua, Jiaxing, Taizhou, Yangzhou, Yancheng, Taizhou, Zhenjiang, Huzhou, Huai'an, Zhoushan, Quzhou, Jiujiang, Hefei
 • ShanghaiGong Zheng[1]
 • JiangsuXu Kunlin
 • ZhejiangWang Hao
 • AnhuiWang Qingxian
 • Total350,000 km2 (140,000 sq mi)
 • Totalc. 240,000,000
 • Density700/km2 (2,000/sq mi)
 • Shanghai-Jiangsu—Zhejiang-AnhuiCN¥27.765 trillion
(US$4.303 trillion) (2021)[2]
Time zoneUTC+8 (CST)
Yangtze Delta
Simplified Chinese长江三角洲
Traditional Chinese長江三角洲
Hanyu PinyinChángjiāng sānjiǎozhōu
RomanizationZankaon Saekohtseu
Yangtze River Delta Economic Region[3]

The Yangtze Delta or Yangtze River Delta (YRD, Chinese: 长江三角洲 or simply Chinese: 长三角), once known as the Shanghai Economic Zone, is a triangle-shaped megalopolis generally comprising the Wu-speaking areas of Shanghai, southern Jiangsu, northern Zhejiang, southern Anhui. The area lies in the heart of the Jiangnan region (literally, "south of the Yangtze"), where the Yangtze drains into the East China Sea. Historically the fertile delta fed much of China’s population, and cities and commerce flourished. Today, it is one of China’s most important metropolitan area and is home to China’s financial center, tourist destination and hub for manufacture ranging from textile to car-making. In 2021, the Yangtze Delta had a GDP of approximately US$4.3 trillion,[4] about the same size as Japan.

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 around 350,000 square kilometres (140,000 sq mi) and is home to over 240 million people. With about a sixth of China's population and a fourth of the country's GDP, the YRD is one of the fastest growing and richest regions in East Asia.


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 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.

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 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 bud of capitalism[5] of 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.[6]

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 Delta became the first industrialized area in China.[7] In the middle and late feudal society of China, the Yangtze River Delta region initially formed a considerable urban agglomeration.

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 Delta) in China in terms of economic growth, productivity and per capita income.

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 Delta Economic Coordination Association, which included a new member Taizhou in Jiangsu in that year. In 1997, Taizhou in Zhejiang also joined the association. In 2003, 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. In 2019, the area is expand to full Anhui, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Shanghai.[8]


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.[9]

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.


Metropolitan areas[edit]

Metropolitan area Chinese Cities Population
Greater Shanghai Metropolitan Area 大上海都市圈 Shanghai [8]
Suxichang Metropolitan Area 苏锡常都市圈 Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou [8]
Hefei Metropolitan area 合肥都市圈 Hefei [8]
Nanjing Metropolitan Area 南京都市圈 Nanjing [8]
Ningbo Metropolitan Area 宁波都市圈 Ningbo [8]


Central areas include Shanghai, Nanjing, Jiujiang, Wuxi, Changzhou, Suzhou, Nantong, Yangzhou, Zhenjiang, Yancheng, Taizhou (Jiangsu), Hangzhou, Ningbo, Wenzhou, Huzhou, Jiaxing, Shaoxing, Jinhua, Zhoushan, Taizhou (Zhejiang), Hefei, Wuhu, Maanshan, Tongling, Anqing, Chuzhou, Chizhou, Xuancheng.[8]

City Area km2 Population (2020) GDP (CN¥)[10] GDP (US$)
Shanghai 6,341 26,875,500 CN¥ 4,465 billion US$ 663.9 billion
Suzhou 8,488 12,748,252 CN¥ 2,396 billion US$ 356.0 billion
Hangzhou 16,821 11,936,010 CN¥ 1,875 billion US$ 279.0 billion
Nanjing 6,587 9,314,685 CN¥ 1,691 billion US$ 242.7 billion
Ningbo 9,816 9,618,000 CN¥ 1,570 billion US$ 233.5 billion
Wuxi 4,628 7,462,135 CN¥ 1,485 billion US$ 221.0 billion
Nantong 8,544 7,726,635 CN¥ 1,138 billion US$ 169.2 billion
Changzhou 4,385 5,278,121 CN¥ 955 billion US$ 142.0 billion
Shaoxing 8,279 5,270,977 CN¥ 735 billion US$ 109.9 billion
Taizhou (Jiangsu) 5,787 4,512,762 CN¥ 640 billion US$ 94.7 billion
Yangzhou 6,626 4,559,797 CN¥ 711 billion US$ 93.4 billion
Jiaxing 4,009 5,400,868 CN¥ 551 billion US$ 73.6 billion
Zhenjiang 3,837 3,210,418 CN¥ 502 billion US$ 72.0 billion
Taizhou (Zhejiang) 9,411 6,662,888 CN¥ 356 billion US$ 57.1 billion
Huzhou 5,818 3,367,579 CN¥ 272 billion US$ 40.7 billion
Zhoushan 1,378 1,157,817 CN¥ 151 billion US$ 20.0 billion
Yangtze River Delta
Economic Region
110,755 125,300,444 CN¥ 19.493 trillion US$ 2.869 trillion


Coastal erosion[edit]

The Three Gorge Dam has huge impacts on both upstream and downstream. Since 2003, the Yangtze River delta front has experienced severe erosion and significant sediment coarsening.[11]

Subaqueous delta[edit]

The Yangtze River derived sediment has not really dispersed across the East China Sea continental shelf, instead, an elongated (~800 km) distal subaqueous mud wedge (up to 60 m thick) extending from the Yangtze River mouth southward off the Zhejiang and Fujian coasts into the Taiwan Strait.[12][13]


The Yangtze River Delta is not only a natural geographical area, but also a social, economic and cultural area, with the same or similar cultural traditions and historical memories. The Hui-style culture, Huaiyang culture, Wuyue culture, Shanghai style culture, Chu-Han culture, etc. have their own charms, but also infiltrate and merge with each other to form a colorful Yangtze River Delta culture. The profound humanistic heritage provides an endless stream of spiritual strength for the economic development of the Yangtze River Delta region, making it one of the most active areas of economic development, the highest degree of openness, and the strongest innovation capability in China.[14]


The area of the Yangtze 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.

Fishing and agriculture[edit]

The Yangtze Delta contains the most fertile soils in all of China.[15] 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.


Yangtze Delta regional cooperation require effort from governments of Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui and Jiangxi.[16]

They've gradually established a three-tier model of governance on increased regional cooperation:

  • Leadership: Symposium of Governors of YRD Area (长三角地区主要领导座谈会)
  • Coordination: Joint Conference on Cooperation and Development of YRD Area (长三角地区合作与发展联席会议)
  • Operation:
    • Offices of the Joint Conference (联席会议办公室)
    • Office of YRD Regional Cooperation[17] (长三角区域合作办公室)
      • Specialized Task Forces (专题合作组)

There is also a conference with longer history for economical cooperation:

  • Coordinative Conference on Economy for Cities in YRD (长三角城市经济协调会, since 1992)
    • Joint Conference of Mayors (市长联席会议)
    • Office of the Coordination Society (协调会办公室)


  • Outline of the Regional Integration Development Plan of the Yangtze River Delta[8]


The area is home to an extensive transport network. The area has one of the highest private vehicle ownership rates in China, and traffic rules governing Jiangsu, Shanghai, and Zhejiang are relatively strict compared to the rest of the country.[18] The region contains major hubs for shipping and international trade, including the ports of Shanghai and Ningbo-Zhoushan, the world's largest container and cargo ports, respectively. The region also includes the Hangzhou Bay Bridge, which at 36 km is the world's longest cross-sea bridge, and the densest network of rapid-transport rails in the world, spread out across 12 railway lines.


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

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.


  1. ^ "共享"五五购物节"!上海市委书记和代市长面向全球推介邀约". 澎湃新闻网.
  2. ^ GDP-2022 is a preliminary data "Home - Regional - Quarterly by Province" (Press release). China NBS.
  3. ^ "Economic and Technological Development Zones", www.china-briefing.com, 15 July 2014
  4. ^ see China national data "regional - annual by province - national accounts - gross regional product" (Press release). China NBS. Retrieved May 13, 2023.
  5. ^ Liu, Rifeng (1996). "CQVIP".
  6. ^ Niu, Tingting; Li, Ruibin (2022-04-20). Chaudhary, Gopal (ed.). "A Study on the Influence of Traditional Architectural Elements on the Urban Context from the Perspective of Perception: Taking the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta, and the Bohai Rim as Examples". Computational Intelligence and Neuroscience. 2022: 1–14. doi:10.1155/2022/1744411. ISSN 1687-5273. PMC 9045971. PMID 35498203.
  7. ^ "江南文化:长三角城市群的成长基因". www.qstheory.cn. Archived from the original on 2018-12-03. Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "中共中央 国务院印发《长江三角洲区域一体化发展规划纲要》". 中华人民共和国政府.
  9. ^ Daoji, Li; Daler, Dag (2004). "Ocean Pollution from Land-Based Sources: East China Sea, China". Ambio. 33 (1/2): 107–113. doi:10.1579/0044-7447-33.1.107. ISSN 0044-7447. JSTOR 4315461. PMID 15083656. S2CID 12289116.
  10. ^ The GDP figures are from the statistical bulletin on 2022 national economic and social development published by the statistical agencies of relevant cities, see"2022年GDP100强城市榜:江苏13市均超4000亿,10强有变化". yicai.com.
  11. ^ Luo, X. X.; Yang, S. L.; Wang, R. S.; Zhang, C. Y.; Li, P. (2017-02-01). "New evidence of Yangtze delta recession after closing of the Three Gorges Dam". Scientific Reports. 7 (1): 41735. Bibcode:2017NatSR...741735L. doi:10.1038/srep41735. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 5286395. PMID 28145520.
  12. ^ Liu, J.P.; Li, A.C.; Xu, K.H.; Veiozzi, D.M.; Yang, Z.S.; Milliman, J.D.; DeMaster, D. (2006). "Sedimentary features of the Yangtze River-derived along-shelf clinoform deposit in the East China Sea". Cont. Shelf Res. 26 (17–18): 2141–2156. Bibcode:2006CSR....26.2141L. doi:10.1016/j.csr.2006.07.013.
  13. ^ Liu, J.P.; Xu, K.H.; Li, A.C.; Milliman, J.D.; Velozzi, D.M.; Xiao, S.B.; Yang, Z.S. (2007). "Flux and fate of Yangtze river sediment delivered to the East China Sea". Geomorphology. 85 (3–4): 208–224. Bibcode:2007Geomo..85..208L. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2006.03.023.
  14. ^ "长三角文化与区域一体化". 中国社会科学院.
  15. ^ Zhang, Xiangling; Li, Yan; Wang, Genmei; Zhang, Huanchao; Yu, Ruisi; Li, Ning; Zheng, Jiexiang; Yu, Ye (January 2022). "Soil Quality Assessment in Farmland of a Rapidly Industrializing Area in the Yangtze Delta, China". International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 19 (19): 12912. doi:10.3390/ijerph191912912. ISSN 1660-4601. PMC 9566700. PMID 36232210.
  16. ^ "上海市首提"长三角一体化发展示范区"". www.guancha.cn. Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  17. ^ "Joint office to help guide Yangtze River Delta area". english.gov.cn. Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  18. ^ Ma, Lin; Wu, Manhua; Tian, Xiujuan; Zheng, Guanheng; Du, Qinchuan; Wu, Tian (2019-07-19). "China's Provincial Vehicle Ownership Forecast and Analysis of the Causes Influencing the Trend". Sustainability. 11 (14): 3928. doi:10.3390/su11143928. ISSN 2071-1050.

External links[edit]