China’s history is rich with art, politics, science, and philosophy. It is home to the oldest of the major world civilizations. China was ruled by various dynasties for much of its history. The first dynasty is believed to be the Xia dynasty which formed somewhere around 2250 BC. The Shang or Yin dynasty gained power around the 14th century BC. The Han Dynasty, which lasted over 400 years from 206 BC to 220 AD, was one of the most influential in China’s history. Much of the culture today was created during the Han Dynasty. Later famous dynasties, like the Song and the Tang, continued to refine the culture and bring new innovations to the world including printed money, a permanent navy, and a complex government that ruled over 100 million people.
China is located in eastern Asia along the western shore of the Pacific Ocean. It spreads over a vastly diverse geographical area of 9.6 million square kilometers (about the size of the USA or Europe), and is home to approaching 1.4 billion people (more than N. America and Europe combined).
The highlands and hill regions account for 65 percent of the country’s total landmass, and there are more than 2,000 lakes dotting the landscape. The highest mountain peak is Qomolangma (Mt. Everest) in Tibet, the highest in the world, 8,848 meters above sea level.
Among the 220,000 kilometers of rivers the Changjiang (Yangtze), Huanghe (Yellow River) and Zhujiang (Pearl River) are the most famous. The Yellow River Basin is the cradle of Chinese civilization, as the many cultural-historical sites along its banks can attest.
A cruise up/down the Yangtze offers unique encounters with China’s rich cultural heritage as well as some spectacular vistas. Check out the 2019/2020 Cruise Calendar to explore the Yangtze River, and to explore China’s ancient culture.