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Dongting Lake

Dongting Lake

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Encyclopedia
Dongting Lake, or Lake Dongting is a large, shallow lake
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

 in northeastern Hunan
Hunan
' is a province of South-Central China, located to the south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and south of Lake Dongting...

 province, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. It is a flood basin of the Yangtze River
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

 (Chang Jiang). Hence the lake's size depends on the season. The provinces of Hubei
Hubei
' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

 and Hunan
Hunan
' is a province of South-Central China, located to the south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and south of Lake Dongting...

 are named after their location relative to the lake: Hubei means "North of the Lake" and Hunan means "South of the Lake" in Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

.

Dongting Lake is famous in Chinese culture as the place of origin of Dragon boat
Dragon boat
A dragon boat is a human-powered watercraft traditionally made, in the Pearl River delta region of southern China - Guangdong Province, of teak wood to various designs and sizes. In other parts of China different woods are used to build these traditional watercraft...

 racing. It is the site of Junshan island, and is a home to the Finless Porpoise
Finless Porpoise
The finless porpoise is one of six porpoise species. In the waters around Japan, at the northern end of its range, it is known as the sunameri . A freshwater population found in the Yangtze River in China is known locally as the jiangzhu or "river pig". There is a degree of taxonomic uncertainty...

, which is endangered in China.

Geography


In the July-September period, flood water from the Yangtze
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

 flows into the lake, enlarging it greatly. The lake's area, which normally is 2,820 km² (data before 1998), may increase to 20,000 km² in flood season, when vast amounts of water and sediment from the Chang Jiang flow into the lake. The lake is also fed by four major rivers: the Xiang
Xiang River
The Xiang River , in older transliterations as the Siang River or Hsiang River, is a river in southern China...

 (湘), Zi (资), Yuan
Yuan River
The Yuan River is one of the four largest rivers in Hunan province in southeast-central China, and is a tributary of Yangtze River.It is long and rises in Guizhou province in the Miao Mountains near Tu-yün and is navigable. The upper stream is called the Lung-t'ou River, and downstream it is...

 (沅) and Li
Lishui River
Lishui River is a river in Hunan province of China, one of the Yangtze River's four largest tributaries in the province....

 (澧) rivers. Small rivers also flow in, the most famous one being Miluo River
Miluo River
The Miluo River is an important river in the Dongting Lake watershed. It is famous as the location of the ritual suicide in 278 BC of Qu Yuan, a poet of Chu state during the Warring States period, in protest against the corruption of the era....

 where a famous poet Qu Yuan
Qu Yuan
Qu Yuan was a Chinese poet who lived during the Warring States Period in ancient China. He is famous for his contributions to the poetry collection known as the Chu-ci...

 committed suicide. In addition, the Xiao River
Xiao River
Xiao River is a river of China, and tributary to the Xiang River. It is part of the East China Sea basin....

(瀟) flows into the Xiang near Yongzhou
Yongzhou
Yongzhou is a prefecture-level city in the Hunan province of China.YongZhou is located in the central and south of China, on the southern side of Xiang River, which is formed by the confluence of the Xiao and Xiang rivers. Yongzhou is one of the four ancient counties in Hunan; it is 2000 years old...

, before the Xiang flows into the lake. Ocean-going vessels can travel through the Xiang to reach Changsha.

History


During the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

, Yunmeng Marsh , which lies to the north of Dongting Lake in Hubei Province, served as the main flood-basin of the Yangtze. The rich sediment of the marsh attracted farmers. Embankments were built, keeping the river out, and the Dongting Lake area south of the Yangtze gradually became the river's main flood-basin.

At that time, Dongting Lake was China's largest lake. Because of its size, it gained the name Eight-hundred-li-Dongting (八百里洞庭). Nowadays, it is the second-largest, after Poyang Lake (鄱陽湖), as much of the lake has been turned into farmland
Land reclamation
Land reclamation, usually known as reclamation, is the process to create new land from sea or riverbeds. The land reclaimed is known as reclamation ground or landfill.- Habitation :...

.

Culture and mythology



The area is well-known in Chinese history and literature
Chinese literature
Chinese literature extends thousands of years, from the earliest recorded dynastic court archives to the mature fictional novels that arose during the Ming Dynasty to entertain the masses of literate Chinese...

. Dragon boat racing is said to have begun on the eastern shores of Dongting Lake as a search for the body of Qu Yuan
Qu Yuan
Qu Yuan was a Chinese poet who lived during the Warring States Period in ancient China. He is famous for his contributions to the poetry collection known as the Chu-ci...

 (屈原), the Chu poet (340-278 BC), and a dragon-king is said to live at the bottom of the lake.

Junshan (君山), which was formerly a Daoist retreat, is a famous one-kilometer island with 72 peaks in the middle of the lake. The island is also famous for its Junshan Yinzhen tea. The basin of Dongting Lake and its surrounding area is famous for its scenic beauty, which has been encapsulated in the phrase 瀟湘湖南 (Xiao1-Xiang1 Hu2nan2; "Hunan of the Xiao and Xiang rivers").

The scenery of the Jiuyi Mountains
Jiuyi Mountains
The Jiuyi Mountains are a mountain range of China in Hunan province on the border with Guangdong....

 (九嶷山) and of the Xiao and Xiang rivers below is often mentioned in Chinese poetry
Chinese poetry
Chinese poetry is poetry written, spoken, or chanted in the Chinese language, which includes various versions of Chinese language, including Classical Chinese, Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Yue Chinese, as well as many other historical and vernacular varieties of the Chinese language...

. During the Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

, it became the fashion to paint this region's scenery in a set of eight scenes, usually entitled as Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang
Eight Views of Xiaoxiang
The Eight Views of Xiaoxiang are beautiful scenes of the Xiaoxiang region, in what is now modern Hunan Province, China, as having been written in the poems, depicted in the pictures and known among the people, from the time of the Song Dynasty...

 (瀟湘八景). The fashion spread to Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, where eventually other famous places were substituted for the Xiao and Xiang rivers.

Environmental issues


In 2007 fears were expressed that China's Finless Porpoise
Finless Porpoise
The finless porpoise is one of six porpoise species. In the waters around Japan, at the northern end of its range, it is known as the sunameri . A freshwater population found in the Yangtze River in China is known locally as the jiangzhu or "river pig". There is a degree of taxonomic uncertainty...

, a native of the lake, might follow the baiji
Baiji
Baiji may refer to:* The Baiji or Yangtze River Dolphin * Baiji, Iraq, a city of northern Iraq.* "Baiji" is the pinyin Romanization for Baekje....

, the Yangtze river dolphin, into extinction.

There have been calls for action to save the finless porpoise, of which there are about 1400 left living, with approximately 700 to 900 in the Yangtze, and approximately another 500 in Poyang
Lake Poyang
Poyang Lake , located in Jiangxi Province is the largest freshwater lake in China.It has a surface area of 3,585 km², a volume of 25 km³ and an average depth of eight meters. The lake provides a habitat for half a million migratory birds, and is a favorite destination for birding...

 and Dongting Lakes.

The 2007 population levels were less than half the 1997 levels, and the population continues to drop at a rate of 7.3 per cent per year.

Pressure on the finless porpoise population on Poyang Lake comes from the high numbers of ships passing through, as well as sand dredging.

After flooding of the Yangtze River in late June 2007, approximately 2 billion mice were displaced from the islands of the lake. The mice invaded surrounding communities, damaging crops and dikes and forcing the government to construct walls and ditches to control the population.

The lake was also featured on news services as having a problem with schistosoma
Schistosoma
A genus of trematodes, Schistosoma, commonly known as blood-flukes and bilharzia, includes flatworms which are responsible for a highly significant parasitic infection of humans by causing the disease schistosomiasis, and are considered by the World Health Organization as the second most...

 and malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

 infected mosquitoes.

Billions of mice were forced from their holes and were sent scurrying into local villages when officials opened the sluice gates on Dongting Lake in June 2007 to relieve flooding. Villagers killed an estimated 2 billion mice by beating them with shovels or using poison. The rotting mouse corpses should have been properly disposed of, and other animals - such as cats and dogs - were the unintended victims of the poisons.

A restoration project, the Sino-Norwegian Project of Biodiversity Protection Management (a joint Norwegian-Chinese endeavor), began in 2005. According to a 2007 article in the China Daily
China Daily
The China Daily is an English language daily newspaper published in the People's Republic of China.- Overview :China Daily was established in June 1981 and has the widest print circulation of any English-language newspaper in the country...

, "[The Dongting Lake area] will be restored to a sustainable biodiversity environment within five to 10 years".

See also

  • Hunan
    Hunan
    ' is a province of South-Central China, located to the south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and south of Lake Dongting...

  • Yangzi River
  • Junshan Island
  • Xiaoxiang
    Xiaoxiang
    Xiaoxiang , also transliterated XiaoXiang. Hsiao Hsiang, and Chiu Chiang, in some older sources, refers to the "lakes and rivers" region in south central China, more-or-less corresponding with Hunan, China, south of the middle-reaches of the Yangzi River. Xiaoxiang is less a precise geographic...

  • Eight Views of Xiaoxiang
    Eight Views of Xiaoxiang
    The Eight Views of Xiaoxiang are beautiful scenes of the Xiaoxiang region, in what is now modern Hunan Province, China, as having been written in the poems, depicted in the pictures and known among the people, from the time of the Song Dynasty...

  • Xiang River
    Xiang River
    The Xiang River , in older transliterations as the Siang River or Hsiang River, is a river in southern China...

  • Emperor Shun
  • Spotted bamboo
    Spotted bamboo
    Spotted bamboo refers to several species of bamboo, apparently within the genus Phyllostachys, also known as "teardrop" bamboo and as mottled bamboo, which are types of bamboo with stems that are mottled by dark spots...

  • Xiang River goddesses
    Xiang River goddesses
    The Xiang River goddesses were daughters of the Emperor Yao who were said to have been married by him to his chosen successor, and eventually emperor, Shun, as a sort of test of his administrative abilities: later they became goddesses....


External links