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Chongqing and the Yangtze River
After decades of lobbying for special economic status, in 1997 Beijing finally allowed Chongqing to formally separate from Sichuan. This maneuver facilitated Chongqing's rise from a stunted onetime capital to the region's industrial powerhouse, and allowed for the long-planned Three Gorges Dam Project to move forward.
Called the Mountain City (also the name of the local beer), Chongqing has features unlike any other Chinese city. Instead of the ubiquitous bicycle, Chongqing has the Stickman Army. Stickmen are peasants for hire who wander the streets of Chongqing carrying stuff up and down the hills. The city is also riddled with tunnels, many of which were dug during the sieges of WWII. Built on the side of a mountain, the city has an upper and a lower level, so it's not unusual for buildings to have two or more "ground floors."
The city is the major jumping-off point for the Three Gorges cruise down the Yangtze River. The classic novel The Three Kingdoms takes place along this stretch of the river, and the cliffs are lined with caves and tombs dating back to the Yellow Emperor. The Three Gorges Dam is now complete, and the water level is steadily rising—millions of people have been displaced, entire villages swamped, and countless historical artifacts lost forever—but China needs energy, and the western regions need a reliable inland port with deepwater capacity, therefore the dam stays.
Chongqing and the Yangtze River at a Glance
- 18 Steps
- Baoding Shan
- cable cars
- Chaotianmen Docks
- Ci Qi Kou Old Town
- Jinyun Mountain
- Little Three Gorges (Xiao San Xia)
- Loquat Hill
- Luohan Temple
Elsewhere in Sichuan and Chongqing
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