Mekong River Overview
The Mekong River (known in Tibet as Dza-chu, China as Lancang Jiang and Thailand as Mae Nam Khong), is a major river in southeastern Asia. It is the longest river in the region. From its source in China's Qinghai Province near the border with Tibet, the Mekong flows generally southeast to the South China Sea, a distance of 4,200 km (2,610 mi). The Mekong crosses Yunnan Province, China, and forms the border between Myanmar (Burma) and Laos and most of the border between Laos and Thailand. It then flows across Cambodia and southern Vietnam into a rich delta before emptying into the South China Sea. In the upper course are steep descents and swift rapids, but the river is navigable south of Louangphrabang in Laos.
The river is navigable year-round, but some parts of it are particularly difficult to pass through. In the upper part of the river, swift rapids and sharp drops punctuate the river flow.
Since the early days of civilization in the region, the river has been a source of power also in the constant wars that have battered the region. Struggles continue today over where to build dams and tame rapids.
Over 60 million people depend on the Mekong and its tributaries for food, water, transport and many other aspects of their daily lives. Its annual flood drought cycles are essential for the sustainable production of rice and vegetables on the floodplains and along the riverbanks during the dry season. Known as the Mother of waters, the river supports one of the world's most diverse fisheries, second only to the Amazon.
Length 4,200 km (2,610 miles)
Countries China, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam
Basin population 60 Million
Country population total 242 Million
Per Capita GDP Varies from US$ 2,565 (Thailand) to US$ 265 (Cambodia)
Uses Irrigation, fisheries, power generation, transportation, industrial and domestic supply
Primary Legal Agreement Agreement on the Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin, Chiang Rai, Thailand, 5 April 1995 - (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam)
Institutional arrangements Mekong River Commission (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam)
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