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Yangtze Delta

Yangtze Delta

ISS-30 Nighttime view of Shanghai.jpg
Map of Yangtze Delta city belt
Map of Yangtze 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
 • ShanghaiYing Yong
 • JiangsuLi Xueyong
 • ZhejiangLi Qiang
 • AnhuiWang Xuejun
 • Totalc. 105,425,600
Time zoneUTC+8 (CST)
GDP (nominal)2018
 - Total¥14.42 trillion

$2.18 trillion

$4.12 trillion (PPP)
 - per capita¥136,795


$38,972 (PPP)
Yangtze Delta
Simplified Chinese长江三角洲
Traditional Chinese長江三角洲
Hanyu PinyinAbout this soundChángjiāng sānjiǎozhōu 
RomanizationZankaon Saekohtseu

The Yangtze Delta or Yangtze River Delta (YRD, Chinese: 长江三角洲 or simply Chinese: 长三角) is a triangle-shaped megalopolis 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. Having a fertile soil, the Yangtze Delta abundantly produces grain, cotton, hemp and tea.[1] In 2018, the Yangtze Delta had a GDP of approximately US$2.2 trillion,[2] about the same size as Italy.

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 Delta zone, it has over 140 million people in this region. With about 1/10 of China's population and 1/5 of the country's GDP, the YRD is one of the fastest growing and richest regions in East Asia measured by purchasing power parity.


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 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 Delta became the first industrialized area in China.[3]

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 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 Delta Economic Coordination Association is now 22.[4] 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.


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.


Metropolitan areas

Metropolitan area Chinese Cities Population
Shanghai Metropolitan Area 上海都市圈
Shànghǎi Dūshìquān
Shanghai 34,000,000[5]
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 常州都市圈
Chángzhōu Dūshìquān
Changzhou 12,400,000[5]
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 Dūshìquān
Hangzhou, Shaoxing, Jiaxing, Huzhou[6][7] 13,400,000[5]



The Yangtze Delta centers around the ancient culture core of China, Jiangnan.


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. 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.[8]


Yangtze Delta regional cooperation require effort from governments of Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui. [9][10]

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[11] (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 Majors (市长联席会议)
    • Office of the Coordination Society (协调会办公室)


  • Regional Cooperation Plan for YRD[12]


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



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

Urban transit

It is the most dense network of rapid transit railways in the world, the total length of its lines is 1569.7 km.


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

The Yangtze 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. ^ []
  3. ^ "江南文化:长三角城市群的成长基因". Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  4. ^ a b 合肥马鞍山挤上“长三角快车” (in Chinese).
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ "Hangzhou City Profile 2017" (PDF). Jones Lang LaSalle IP, Inc. 2017.
  8. ^ Shanghai Vice-Mayor Zhou Yupeng: 周禹鹏:加快推进长三角城市群的连带发展 retrieved 2010-01-09
  9. ^ 马若虎. "新华网评:"一体化"打造高质量发展标杆-新华网". Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  10. ^ "上海市首提"长三角一体化发展示范区"". Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  11. ^ "Joint office to help guide Yangtze River Delta area". Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  12. ^ "Yangtze River Delta plan gains approval". Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  13. ^ "Longest Bridge - Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 11 December 2012.

External links