Jiangxi is centered on the Gan River valley, which historically provided the main north-south transport route of south China. The corridor along the Gan River is one of the few easily traveled routes through the otherwise mountainous and rugged terrain of the south-eastern mountains. This open corridor was the primary route for trade and communication between the North China Plain and the Yangtze River valley in the north and the territory of modern Guangdong province in the south. As a result Jiangxi has been strategically important throughout much of China's history.
The Gan River travels 885 km north through the western part of Jiangxi Province before flowing into Poyang Lake and thence into the Yangtze River. The Xiang Gan uplands separate it from the Xiang River of neighboring eastern Hunan. It is the major geographical backbone of Jiangxi, and gives its name to the Gan variety of Chinese as well as the province's one-character abbreviation. The river feeds into Lake Poyang, which in turns connects with the Yangtze.
Forest of the basin area in Gan River covers 5.4 million square meters and takes about 57.0% of the province's forest. Such is the power it has had over the imagination that in the minds of Jiangxi people it gives birth to different cultures for Chinese people.