Yangtze Gorges Scenic Spot
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The Yangtze Gorges is one of the first key national scenic spots (in 1982). They start at Baidicheng in Fengjie County, Chongqing and end at Nanjin Pass in Yichang, Hubei Province. The gorges themselves are 193km long and cover an area of 1208km2, including Wuxia gorge, Qutang gorge, Xiling gorge and some wide valleys between these gorges. Qutang Gorge is 8km long and is celebrated for its magnificent, peculiar and precipitous scenery in the world; Wuxia Gorge is 42km long and is serene and secluded and presents a panorama of lovely scenery; and Xiling Gorge is 66km long and is well-known for its dangerous rugged shoals and the turbulent waters. The history of the scenic spots and historical sites in the Three Gorges area can go back to ancient times and it recorded many stirring historical deeds. The mountains and water in Three Gorges are in various postures and are a mysterious natural gallery. The Three Gorges has become world-famous for its large and precipitous valleys and rich historical and cultural intentions. They can be for sightseeing, sport, exploration, archaeological studies and scientific investigation. In 1985 the Three Gorges Scenic Spot was appraised as one of China?s ten scenic spots, and in 1989, both the Three Gorges of Yangtze River and the Lesser Three Gorges of Daninghe River won the title of China?s 40 best scenic spots. The Three Gorges of Yangtze River is located in east Sichuan folded zone and Bamian Mountain folded zone and belongs to the part of upwared zone in Neocathaysian structural system. This area was subjected to several structural changes. The Jinning Movement before the Sinian Period caused the metamorphosis of rock, the folding of rock formation and the magnetic intrusion, and thus forming palaeogeologic structure with the crystal bed-rock mainly toward northwest. During Sinian period to Triassic Period, the structural Changes were mainly vibration or elevation and subsidence movement, and there was no folding and magnetic intrusion. The Yenshan movement occurred at the end of Jurassic Period mainly embodied in the folding and disrupter of overlying strata, thus laying down the present structure. The Himalayan movement mainly utilized and reformed the ruptured structural face of the early-formed structure and folding was not developed. In recent period, new structures are characterized by large-area upward zone and there are no movements with marked difference. In this area, the strata all emerged out except the lack of strata in the upper Devonian, carboniferous and Triassic periods, which is the natural records revealing the process of geological evolution in the Three Gorges area. In this area, the terrain rises and falls, most of emerged bed rock are limestone, rainfall is abundant, water flow deeply cuts off the strata, karst landform is well developed, many valleys, deep gullies, stranger peaks and peculiar rocks were formed, and karst landscapes such as spring and waterfall can be seen everywhere. The river gorges are the main landscapes. Qutang Gorge is the shortest, but has many landscapes and is world-famous for its magnificent and precipitous scenery. On the banks of the gorges, Chijia and Baiyan Mountains oppositely stand, the mysterious rock walls look like two giant gates and control the flow of Yangtze River. The magnificent mountains and turbulent waters are of great momentum and are acclaimed by the people as the acme of perfection. Wuxia Gorges, the longest one, with deep valleys, soaring fascinating mountain peaks rising from the river banks, is serene and secluded, presents a panorama of lovely scenery, and looks like a beautiful mountains-and-waters painting gallery. In Wuxia Gorge scenic area, there are also ?three platforms, eight scenery? and the famous twelve peaks. Xiling Gorge is well-known for its numerous hidden rocks, dangerous shoals and rocks, and turbulent rapids. The famous new shoal, Kongling shoal and Yaocha River is all located in this gorge. The gorge has numerous rapids and shoals, water flows circuitously, peaks rise one higher than another, strange peaks and peculiar rocks are of great momentum, karats caves can be found everywhere, and there are 174 caves in this gorge. There are also many small gorges in this area except the famous Three Gorges. The gorges located at river branches are relatively small, but they are very beautiful, peculiar and precipitous. High mountains tower aloft on the banks of Yangtze River; there are more than 20 mountains with the elevation over 800m, 20 mountains with the elevation over 1000m and 13 mountains with the elevation over 2000m. Water in branch flows into Yangtze River from the elevation of 1000m. The mountains mingle together with rivers and form a precipitous and beautiful mountain-and-water Scene. There are 13 mountains with towering peaks, dense forest and beautiful landscapes, including Chijia, Baiyan, Tianzhu, Dalaoling, Huangniushan, Xiannu, Xiaoshenlongjia and Wanchao Mountains. In the Three Gorges Section of Yangtze River, water resource is very abundant, about 80 streams and branches flow into Yangtze River, and the streams, special shapes and organic composition of mountains and rivers constitute changeable and magnificent landscapes of the Three Gorges. The Three Gorges scenic area is located in subtropical moist monsoon climate zone, belongs to the transition zone of subtropical zone and temperate zone, has the features of rich quantity of heat, full of sunshine, abundant rainfall, and synchronization of water and heat. The vegetation and plants have marked transition characteristics; their types and species are very complicated and show large diversity. The Three Gorge scenic spot contains different ecological environment from rivers, flatlands, lower hills to medium mountains and has abundant species of living beings. The wild animal resources include 570 species of vertebrates, with 69 species of animals, 124 species of birds, 15 species of reptiles, 12 species of amphibians and 92 species of fishes. Two kinds of wild animals including golden monkey and south China tiger are listed as the national Class I protected wild animals. 9 kinds of wild animals including giant and lesser civets, Chinese pangolin, musk deer, giant salamander, rhesus monkey, tufted deer, clouded leopard and black finless porpoise are listed as the national Class II protected wild animals. Bharal and red-belly pheasant are listed as the national Class III protected wild animals. In the scenic area, there is the national key protected aquatic animal?Chinese sturgeon and a breeding base for Chinese sturgeon is set up at Hexingzhou, Yichang County. The Three Gorges scenic area has numerous varieties of plant species, the preliminary statistics show that there are 166 families of vascular plants with 762 categories and 2093 species, of which there are 20 families of pteridophyta with 37 categories and 91 species, 6 families of angiospermous with 17 categories and 29 species, 123 families of dicotyls with 598 categories and 1694 species, and 17 families of monocotyls with 134 categories and 279 species. 35 species of plants are listed as endemic plants, such as lotus-leaf brake, dawn redwood, dove tree and so on. 36 species of plants are listed in the ?Directory of the National Key Protected Plants?, of which, the dove tree is the Class I protected plant, 16 are Class II protected plants such as maidenhair tree, Qinling fir, three-pin fir, white sandalwood, walnut tree, Chinese tulip tree and so on. 19 species of plants are listed as Class III protected plants. These rare and near-extinction plants are of great value for scientific study. The Three Gorges has a long history, ancient culture and rich historical and cultural intension. Archaelogical study discovered that the prehistoric culture was Damiao culture here, where the archaecologists found out the fossils of the ancients and giant ape-men which were 2.04-2.01 million years ago. Daxi culture is one of China?s famous ancient cultural relics, which was 5000~6000 years ago. The archaecologists unearthed 5000-odd relics, 10000-odd earthenwares and 100-odd jade, bone and horn handicrafts, which should be listed in Daxi culture. In this scenic area, there are 112 ancient cultural relics, of which 47 are the relics in the Neolithic Age and the Paleolithic Age. 12 relics have been reported to the higher authority for approval as provincial protection units of historical relics. There are 2830 ancient graves which are located at 166 places, and the suspended-coffins on cliffs were found at 7 places, with 30-odd coffins at one place. Based on an incomplete statistics, there are 274 suspended-coffin holes on cliffs along Daninghe river valley. The coffins are all suspended on the cliffs 120m~150m above the ground, though their types are different from each other. It is appraised by historians that the suspended coffins were built in the period from the late of West Han dynasty to the early stage of the East Han dynasty, but when they were buried and how they were placed on the cliffs remains still a mystery. The Three Gorges is the cradle of ancient Chinese culture and also one of the earliest tourist places in China. Li Daoyuan, an geographer (A.D 472~527) in Beiwei Dynasty made a deep investigation on the Three Gorges 1472 years ago and gave a detailed description of the Three Gorges in his treatise. Many ancient officials, scholars, poets and painters successively came to visit the Three gorges, including Du Fu, Bai Juyi, Li Bai, Wang Anshi, Three Sus, Lu You, Liu Yuxi and Ouyang Xiu, they were deeply touched by the beautiful scenery and left behind a lot of paintings and poems. The Three Gorges have a long history and Three gorges culture nurtured many famous historical figures and legend stories, such as Qu Yuan, a great thinker, statesman and writer and Wan Zhaojun, who made a great contribution to the national concord, they were born separately in Zhigui and Xingshan Counties in this scenic area. In the past hundred and thousand years, the local people often held various commemorative activities and many oft-quoted and widely-loved stories and legends were spread far and wide among the people, which adds up to the brilliance and mystery of the Three Gorges Scenic Spot.