The Yangtze begins high on Tibet’s eastern plateau and flows toward the East China Sea, running through the spectacular Three Gorges area. A massive dam and agriculture control project completed in 2008 has changed some of the character of the Three Gorges area, but provides for the world’s largest hydroelectric generation plant. A lock system continues to allow ocean-going vessels access to and from inland cities.
Controversy has swirled about the massive dam. Millions of Chinese were relocated as a result of the dam. A museum was established by the government in Chongqing to house many of the treasures from now-submerged villages. The government has noted that the dam’s 700 megawatt power generation capability replaces many coal-fired power plants. The dam was designed to eliminate major downstream flood disasters, saving tens of thousands of lives.
Chongqing, a city of 5 million, is an embarkation point for cruises through the Three Gorges area to the dam. As provisional capital for the Republic of China during its war with Japan (1937-45), Chongqing was heavily bombed. Today it is an industrial center with many high-rise buildings and modern facilities.