The Yangtze is the longest river in Asia, the third-longest in the world and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises in the northern part of the Tibetan Plateau and flows 6,300 km (3,900 mi) in a generally easterly direction to the East China Sea. It is the sixth-largest river by discharge volume in the world. Its drainage basin comprises one-fifth of the land area of China and is home to nearly one-third of the country's population.

The Yangtze has played a major role in the history, culture and economy of China. For thousands of years, the river has been used for water, irrigation, sanitation, transportation, industry, boundary-marking and war. The prosperous Yangtze River Delta generates as much as 20% of China's gross domestic product (GDP). The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze is the largest hydro-electric power station in the world. In mid-2014, the Chinese government announced it was building a multi-tier transport network, comprising railways, roads and airports, to create a new economic belt alongside the river.

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