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Tiger Leaping Gorge

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Introdution
Tiger Leaping Gorge is a scenic canyon on the Jinsha River, a primary tributary of the upper Yangtze River. It is located 60 kilometres (37 mi) north of Lijiang City, Yunnan in southwestern China. It is part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas World Heritage Site.

At a maximum depth of approximately 3,790 meters (12,434 feet) from river to mountain peak, Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest and most spectacular river canyons in the world. The inhabitants of the gorge are primarily the indigenous Naxi people, who live in a handful of small hamlets. Their primary subsistence comes from grain production and hikers.

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Geography
Around 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) in length, the gorge is located where the river passes between the 5,596 metres (18,360 ft) Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the 5,396 metres (17,703 ft) Haba Snow Mountain in a series of rapids under steep 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) cliffs. Legend says that in order to escape from a hunter, a tiger jumped across the river at the narrowest point, hence the name.

Administratively, the river in this area forms the border between Yulong Naxi Autonomous County of Lijiang City (right bank) and Shangri-La County of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

The gorge is not considered navigable. In the early 1980s, four rafters attempted to go down the gorge and were never seen again. In 1986, the first known successful attempt to sail through the gorge was made by the first expedition to float down the entire length of the Yangtze, starting at the river's high source at the Gelandandong glacier lake.

The area was officially opened to foreign tourists in 1993, but had attracted adventurous backpackers already in the 1980s. Officials plan to improve the existing trails and roads, bringing tour buses and more development. These plans arouse highly varied reactions among the local population, from strong opposition to strong support.

Natural crystals are mined from areas in and surrounding the Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Environmental Concerns
Although Tiger Leaping Gorge is an essential part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan, a World Heritage Site since 2003, the Chinese government floated proposals for a hydroelectric dam on the Jinsha River in 2004. The Yunnan provincial government scrapped the project in 2007.

Details of the scrapped project follow: Construction had begun on the other 12 dams of the same project which lie just outside the boundaries of the heritage area, even though it had not been approved by the State Council. Media reports suggested that the Lijiang city government waived standard procedures in order to facilitate the project.

The project would displace up to 100,000 people to the north, mainly the Naxi minority, to a Tibetan area with harsh climate and unfamiliar crops as barley and potatoes as staples, virtually stop the flow of the upper Yangtze River, and irreparably alter the landscape of the Tiger Leaping Gorge.The project was abandoned in December 2007. This project was also related to the Three Gorges Dam and the South-North Water Transfer Project, which would cause massive environmental damage and the destruction of thousands of cultural sites.

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