Mekong

Mekong

Overview
The Mekong is a river that runs through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is the world's 10th-longest river and the 7th-longest in Asia. Its estimated length is 4909 km (3,050 mi), and it drains an area of 795000 km² (306,951.2 sq mi), discharging 475 km³ (114 cu mi) of water annually.

From the Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

 this river runs through 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...

's Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 province, Burma, Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

 and Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

.
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Encyclopedia
The Mekong is a river that runs through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is the world's 10th-longest river and the 7th-longest in Asia. Its estimated length is 4909 km (3,050 mi), and it drains an area of 795000 km² (306,951.2 sq mi), discharging 475 km³ (114 cu mi) of water annually.

From the Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

 this river runs through 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...

's Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 province, Burma, Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

 and Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

. Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam established the Mekong River Commission
Mekong River Commission
The Mekong River Commission is an intergovernment body charged “to promote and co-ordinate sustainable management and development of water and related resources for the countries’ mutual benefit and the people’s well-being by implementing strategic programmes and activities and providing...

 (MRC) in 1995 to assist in the management and coordinated use of the Mekong's resources. In 1996 China and Burma became "dialogue partners" of the MRC and the six countries now work together within a cooperative framework.

The extreme seasonal variations in flow and the presence of rapid
Rapid
A rapid is a section of a river where the river bed has a relatively steep gradient causing an increase in water velocity and turbulence. A rapid is a hydrological feature between a run and a cascade. A rapid is characterised by the river becoming shallower and having some rocks exposed above the...

s and waterfall
Waterfall
A waterfall is a place where flowing water rapidly drops in elevation as it flows over a steep region or a cliff.-Formation:Waterfalls are commonly formed when a river is young. At these times the channel is often narrow and deep. When the river courses over resistant bedrock, erosion happens...

s in this river have made navigation
Navigation
Navigation is the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another. It is also the term of art used for the specialized knowledge used by navigators to perform navigation tasks...

 extremely difficult.

Names


In English the river is called "the Mekong River", derived from "Mae Nam Khong", a term of both Thai and Lao origin. In the Lao-Thai toponymy, all great rivers are considered "mother rivers" signalled by the prefix "mae", meaning "mother", and "nam" for water. In the Mekong's case, Mae Nam Khong means Khong, Mother of Water. "Khong" is derived from the Sanskrit "ganga", meaning the Ganges. Many Northern Thai and Laos locals refer to it as the "River Khong". Such is the case with the Mae Nam Ping in Chiang Mai which is known as the "Ping River
Ping River
The Ping River , along with the Nan River, is one of the two main contributaries of Chao Phraya River. It originates at Doi Chiang Dao in Chiang Dao district, Chiang Mai Province. After passing Chiang Mai town, it flows though the provinces Lamphun, Tak, and Kamphaeng Phet...

". The Tonle Sap in Cambodia is a similar example – where Tonle translates as "Great lake or river", making the Tonle Sap River an unnecessary repetition of what is in fact the "Sap River".

In Thai, โขง (kʰǒːŋ) is a species of crocodile; some believe this is tone-shifted from คด kʰót or โค้ง kʰóːŋ, both adjectives to describe curves or meanders of a river or road.

Since the river flows through a number of countries, it has many different names in local languages:
, mɛ́ɡàuɴ mjɪ̰ʔ Riverhead
Riverhead
Riverhead may refer to:* Riverhead, Kent, England* Riverhead, New Zealand* Riverhead, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada* Riverhead, Nova Scotia, a community in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia* Riverhead , the debut album of Goldenhorse...

: , and Zā Qū, upper reaches: 澜沧江, Láncāng Jiāng ("Turbulent River", "Láncāng" is also same to Lan Xang
Lan Xang
The Lao kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Kao was established in 1354 by Fa Ngum.Exiled as an infant to Cambodia, Prince Fa Ngum of Xieng Dong Xieng Thong married a daughter of the Khmer king. In 1349 he set out from Angkor at the head of a 10,000-man army to establish his own country...

 in Chinese), middle and lower reaches: Méigōng hé. Mékôngk meekoŋ, ទន្លេមេគង្គ Tônlé Mékôngk tʊənlee meekoŋ, ទន្លេធំ‎ Tônlé Thum tʊənlee tʰom ("Great River"). , mɛː nâːm kʰɔ̌ːŋ, ນ້ຳຂອງ nâːm kʰɔ̌ːŋ., mɛ̂ː náːm kʰǒːŋ. (soŋm mekoŋm), Sông Lớn ("Great River", soŋm lə̌ːn), Sông Cửu Long ("Nine Dragons River", soŋm kɨ̃w lɔŋ).

Course


The Mekong rises in the "Three Rivers Area" on the Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

 in the Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve
Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve
The Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve The Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve The Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve (SNNR; ; Tibetan: (གཙང་གསུམ་འབུང་ཁུངས་རང་བྱུང་སྲུང་སྐྱོབ་ཁུལ།) also referred to as the Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve, or the Three Rivers Nature Reserve, is the area of Qinghai...

 as the Lancang, together with the Yangtze and Salween
Salween River
The Salween is a river, about long, that flows from the Tibetan Plateau into the Andaman Sea in Southeast Asia. It drains a narrow and mountainous watershed of that extends into the countries China, Burma and Thailand. Steep canyon walls line the swift, powerful and undammed Salween, one of the...

 Rivers. It flows southwest through Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 Province through the Three Rivers Area
Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas
The Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Yunnan province, China.It lies within the drainage basins of the upper reaches of the Yangtze , Mekong and Salween rivers, in the Yunnanese section of the Hengduan Mountains.-Overview:-Geography:The protected...

 in the Hengduan Mountains. After leaving China, it flows southwest and forms the border of Burma and Laos for about 100 kilometres (62.1 mi) then turns southeast to form briefly the border of Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

 with Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

. The Mekong then flows east and south into Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

 for some 400 kilometres (248.5 mi) and defines the Laos-Thailand border again for some 850 kilometres (528.2 mi) as it flows east, turning south through central Southeast Asia, passing through the capital of Laos, Vientiane
Vientiane
-Geography:Vientiane is situated on a bend of the Mekong river, which forms the border with Thailand at this point.-Climate:Vientiane features a tropical wet and dry climate with a distinct monsoon season and a dry season. Vientiane’s dry season spans from November through March. April marks the...

. The Mun River
Mun River
The Mun River , sometimes spelled Moon River, is a tributary of the Mekong river. It carries approximately 21,000 cubic kilometres of water per year.-Geography:...

's confluence with the Mekong occurs right before it crosses into Cambodia, where it receives the Sap River, flowing by Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city of Cambodia. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Phnom Penh has been the national capital since the French colonized Cambodia, and has grown to become the nation's center of economic and industrial activities, as well as the center of security,...

, the capital of Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

. The Mekong slows as it enters Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, where it divides into nine channels of the Mekong Delta
Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of . The size of the area covered by water depends on the season.The...

 (these include: Tiền, Mỹ Tho
Mỹ Tho River
The Mỹ Tho River is a river of Vietnam. It flows for 45 kilometres through Ben Tre Province and Tiền Giang Province....

, Hàm Luông
Hàm Luông River
The Hàm Luông River is branch of Mekong River in the Mekong delta region, Vietnam. It flows for 70 kilometres through Ben Tre Province. It is the border of Châu Thành, Bến Tre, Giồng Trôm and Ba Tri, and Chợ Lách, Mỏ Cày Nam, Mỏ Cày Bắc and Thạnh Phú....

, Cổ Chiên
Cổ Chiên River
The Cổ Chiên River is a river of Vietnam. It flows for 82 kilometres through Ben Tre Province, Trà Vinh Province and Vĩnh Long Province....

, Ba Lai
Ba Lai River
The Ba Lai River is a river in the Mekong Delta region, Vietnam. It flows through Ben Tre Province. In 2002, a irrigation dam was built across the River to stop the infiltration of salt water and preserve fresh water for 100,000 hectares of farmland in Ben Tre....

, Hậu
Bassac River
The Bassac River is a distributary of the Tonle Sap and Mekong River. The river starts in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and flows southerly, crossing the border into Vietnam near Châu Đốc....

), emptying into the South China Sea
South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...

.

Drainage basin


From the point where it rises to its mouth, the most precipitous drop in the Mekong occurs in what is referred to as the 'Upper Mekong Basin' (see below), a stretch of some 2200 km (1,367 mi). Here, it drops 4500 metres (14,763.8 ft) before it enters the Lower Basin where the borders of Thailand, Laos, 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...

 and Burma come together in the Golden Triangle
Golden Triangle (Southeast Asia)
The Golden Triangle is one of Asia's two main illicit opium-producing areas. It is an area of around that overlaps the mountains of four countries of Southeast Asia: Burma, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. Along with Afghanistan in the Golden Crescent and Pakistan, it has been one of the most...

. Downstream from the Golden Triangle, the river flows for a further 2600 km (1,615.6 mi) through Laos, Thailand and Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

 before entering the South China Sea
South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...

 via a complex delta system in Viet Nam.

In Yunnan province in China, the river and its tributaries are confined by narrow, deep gorges. The tributary river systems in this part of the basin are small. Only 14 have catchment areas that exceed 1000 km² (386.1 sq mi), yet the greatest amount of Loss of forest cover in the entire river system per kilometer has occurred in this region due to heavy unchecked demand for natural resources. In the south of Yunnan, in Simao
Simao District
Simao District is a district under the jurisdiction of Pu'er Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China. It is the seat of Puer Prefecture....

 and Xishuangbanna Prefectures, the river changes as the valley opens out, the floodplain becomes wider, and the river becomes wider and slower.

Laos lies almost entirely within the Lower Mekong Basin. Its climate, landscape and land use are the major factors shaping the hydrology of the river. The mountainous landscape means that only 16% of the country is farmed under lowland terrace or upland shifting cultivation
Shifting cultivation
Shifting cultivation is an agricultural system in which plots of land are cultivated temporarily, then abandoned. This system often involves clearing of a piece of land followed by several years of wood harvesting or farming, until the soil loses fertility...

. With upland shifting agriculture (slash and burn), soils recover within 10 to 20 years but the vegetation does not. Shifting cultivation is common in the uplands of Northern Laos and is reported to account for as much as 27% of the total land under rice cultivation. As elsewhere in the basin, forest cover has been steadily reduced during the last three decades by shifting agriculture and permanent agriculture. The cumulative impacts of these activities on the river regime have not been measured.

Loss of forest cover in the Thai areas of the Lower Basin has been the highest in all the Lower Mekong countries over the past 60 years. On the Korat Plateau, which includes the Mun
Mun River
The Mun River , sometimes spelled Moon River, is a tributary of the Mekong river. It carries approximately 21,000 cubic kilometres of water per year.-Geography:...

 and Chi
Chi River
The Chi River is the longest river in Thailand; it extends 765 km, but carries less water than the second longest river, the Mun. In the Isan dialect of this region, and also in the adjacent language Lao, the name of the river is actually pronounced "Nam Si" but the transliteration Chi...

 tributary systems, forest cover was reduced from 42% in 1961 to 13% in 1993. Although this part of Northeast Thailand has an annual rainfall of more than 1,000 mm, a high evaporation rate means it is classified as a semi arid region. Consequently, although the Mun and Chi Basins drain 15% of the entire Mekong Basin, they only contribute 6% of the average annual flow. Sandy and saline soils are the most common soil types, which makes much of the land unsuitable for wet rice cultivation. In spite of poor fertility, however, agriculture is intensive. Glutinous rice, maize and cassava are the principal crops. Drought is by far the major hydrological hazard in this region.

In Cambodia, the wet rice is the main crop and is grown on the flood plains of the Tonle Sap
Tonlé Sap
The Tonlé Sap is a combined lake and river system of major importance to Cambodia.The Tonlé Sap is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and is an ecological hot spot that was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997....

, Mekong and Bassac
Bassac River
The Bassac River is a distributary of the Tonle Sap and Mekong River. The river starts in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and flows southerly, crossing the border into Vietnam near Châu Đốc....

 rivers. More than half of Cambodia remains covered with mixed evergreen and deciduous broadleaf forest, but forest cover has decreased from 73% in 1973 to 63% in 1993. Here, the river landscape is flat. Small changes in water level determine the direction of water movement, including the large-scale reversal of flow into and out of the Tonle Sap basin from the Mekong River.

The Mekong Delta in Viet Nam is farmed intensively and has little natural vegetation left. Forest cover is less than 10%. In the Central Highlands of Viet Nam, forest cover was reduced from over 95% in the 1950s to around 50% in the mid 1990s. Agricultural expansion and population pressure are the major reasons for land use and landscape change. Both drought and flood are common hazards in the Delta
Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of . The size of the area covered by water depends on the season.The...

, which many people believe is the most sensitive to upstream hydrological change.

The Mekong Basin can be divided into two parts: the Upper Basin in Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 and 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...

, and the Lower Mekong Basin from Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 downstream from China to the South China Sea
South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...

. The Upper Basin makes up 24% of the total area and contributes 15 to 20% of the water that flows into the Mekong River. The catchment here is steep and narrow. Soil erosion has been a major problem and approximately 50% of the sediment in the river comes from the Upper Basin.

Major tributary systems develop in the Lower Basin. These systems can be separated into two groups: tributaries that contribute to the major wet season flows, and tributaries that drain low relief regions of lower rainfall. The first group are left bank tributaries that drain the high-rainfall areas of Lao PDR. The second group are those on the right bank, mainly the Mun and Chi rivers, that drain a large part of Northeast Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

.

Table 1: Basic data on country share of Mekong Basin territory and water flows
China Myanmar Lao PDR Thailand Cambodia Vietnam Total
Area in Basin (km,2) 165,000 24,000 202,000 184,000 155,000 65,000 795,000
Catchment as % of MRB 21 3 25 23 20 8 100
Flow as % of MRB 16 2 35 18 18 11 100


As the Mekong enters Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, over 95% of the flows have already joined the river. From here on downstream the terrain is flat and water levels rather than flow volumes determine the movement of water across the landscape. The seasonal cycle of changing water levels at Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city of Cambodia. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Phnom Penh has been the national capital since the French colonized Cambodia, and has grown to become the nation's center of economic and industrial activities, as well as the center of security,...

 results in the unique “flow reversal” of water into and out of the Great Lake via the Tonle Sap River. Phnom Penh also marks the beginning of the delta system of the Mekong River. Here the mainstream begins to break up into an increasing number of branches.

By taking into account hydrological regimes, physiography land use, and existing, planned and potential resource developments, the Mekong is divided into six distinct reaches:

Reach 1: Lancang Jiang or Upper Mekong River in 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...

. In this part of the river, the major source of water flowing into the river comes from melting snow on the Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

. This volume of water is sometimes called the “Yunnan Component” and plays an important role in the low-flow hydrology of the lower mainstream. Even as far downstream as Kratie, the Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 Component makes up almost 30% of the average dry season flow. A major concern is that the on-going and planned expansion of dams and reservoirs on the Mekong mainstream in Yunnan could have a significant effect on the low-flow regime of the Lower Mekong Basin system.

Reach 2: Chiang Saen to Vientiane
Vientiane
-Geography:Vientiane is situated on a bend of the Mekong river, which forms the border with Thailand at this point.-Climate:Vientiane features a tropical wet and dry climate with a distinct monsoon season and a dry season. Vientiane’s dry season spans from November through March. April marks the...

 and Nongkhai
. This reach is almost entirely mountainous and covered with natural forest, although there has been widespread slash and burn agriculture. Although this reach could hardly be described as “unspoiled”, the hydrological response is perhaps the most natural and undisturbed in all the Lower Basin. Many hydrological aspects of the Lower Basin start to change rapidly at the downstream boundary of this reach.

Reach 3: Vientiane and Nongkhai to Pakse. The boundary between Reach 2 and 3 is where the Mekong hydrology starts to change. Reach 2 is dominated in both wet and dry seasons by the Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 Component. Reach 3 is increasingly influenced by contributions from the large left bank tributaries in Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, namely the Nam Ngum
Nam Ngum
Nam Ngum is a 354 km long river of Laos and one of major tributaries of the Mekong. It originates from the Northern mountainous region of Xiangkhoang Province and flows south through Vientiane Province joining the Mekong at Vientiane Capital.Nam Ngum River basin is home for about 1 million...

, Nam Theun
Nam Theun
Nam Theun, also known as Khading, is a river in Laos, in Khammouane and Bolikhamsai Provinces. Together with its tributaries Nam One, Nam Noy, and Nam Theun it has total length of and drain an area of ....

, Nam Hinboun, Se Bang Fai, Se Bang Hieng and Se Done rivers. The Mun
Mun River
The Mun River , sometimes spelled Moon River, is a tributary of the Mekong river. It carries approximately 21,000 cubic kilometres of water per year.-Geography:...

 - Chi
Chi River
The Chi River is the longest river in Thailand; it extends 765 km, but carries less water than the second longest river, the Mun. In the Isan dialect of this region, and also in the adjacent language Lao, the name of the river is actually pronounced "Nam Si" but the transliteration Chi...

 river system from the right bank in Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 also enters the mainstream within this reach.

Reach 4: Pakse to Kratie. The main hydrological contributions to the mainstream in this reach come from the Se Kong, Se San and Sre Pok catchments. Together, these rivers make up the largest hydrological subcomponent of the Lower Basin. Over 25% of the mean annual flow volume to the mainstream at Kratie comes from these three river basins. They are the key element in the hydrology of this part of the system, especially to the Tonle Sap
Tonlé Sap
The Tonlé Sap is a combined lake and river system of major importance to Cambodia.The Tonlé Sap is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and is an ecological hot spot that was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997....

 flow reversal.

Reach 5: Kratie to Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city of Cambodia. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Phnom Penh has been the national capital since the French colonized Cambodia, and has grown to become the nation's center of economic and industrial activities, as well as the center of security,...

. This reach includes the hydraulic complexities of the Cambodian floodplain, the Tonle Sap and the Great Lake. By this stage, over 95% of the total flow has entered the Mekong system. The focus turns from hydrology and water discharge to the assessment of water level, over- bank storage and flooding and the hydrodynamics that determine the timing, duration and volume of the seasonal flow reversal into and out of the Great Lake.

Reach 6: Phnom Penh to the South China Sea
South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...

. Here the mainstream divides into a complex and increasingly controlled and artificial system of branches and canals. Key features of flow behaviour are tidal influences and salt water intrusion. Every year, 35 to 50% of this reach is flooded during the rainy season. The impact of road embankments and similar infrastructure developments on the movement of this flood water is an increasingly important consequence of development.

Table 2 summarises the mean annual flows along the mainstream. The mean annual flow entering the lower Mekong from China is equivalent to a relatively modest 450 mm depth of runoff. Downstream of Vientiane this increases to over 600 mm as the principal left bank tributaries enter the mainstream, mainly the Nam Ngum and Nam Theun. The flow level falls again, even with the right bank entry of the Mun-Chi system from Thailand. Although the Mun - Chi basin drains 20% of the lower system, average annual runoff is only 250 mm. Runoff in the mainstream increases again with the entry from the left bank of the Se Kong from southern Laos and Se San and Sre Pok from Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 and Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

.

Table 2: Lower Mekong Mainstream annual flow (1960 to 2004) at selected sites.
Mainstream site Catchment area (km2) Mean annual flow as as % total Mekong
Discharge m³/s Volume km3 Runoff (mm)
Chiang Saen 189,000 2,700 85 450 19
Luang Prabang 268,000 3,900 123 460 27
Chiang Khan 292,000 4,200 133 460 29
Vientiane 299,000 4,400 139 460 30
Nongkhai 302,000 4,500 142 470 31
Nakhon Phanom 373,000 7,100 224 600 49
Mukdahan 391,000 7,600 240 610 52
Pakse 545,000 9,700 306 560 67
Stung Treng 635,000 13,100 413 650 90
Kratie 646,000 13,200 416 640 91
Basin Total 760,000 14,500 457 600 100

Flows at Chiang Saen
Chiang Saen
* Amphoe Chiang Saen, a district in modern Chiang Rai Province* Chiang Saen, a capital in the ancient Lanna kingdom, and the namesake of the modern district...

 entering the Lower Basin from Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 make up about 15% of the wet season flow at Kratie. This rises to 40% during the dry season, even this far downstream. During the wet season, the proportion of average flow coming from Yunnan rapidly decreases downstream of Chiang Saen, from 70% to less than 20% at Kratie. The dry season contribution from Yunnan is much more significant. The major portion of the balance comes from Laos, which points to a major distinction in the low-flow hydrology of the river. One fraction comes from melting snow in 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...

 and Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 and the rest from over-season catchment storage in the Lower Basin. This has implications for the occurrence of drought conditions. For example, if runoff from melting snow in any given year is very low, then flows upstream of Vientiane
Vientiane
-Geography:Vientiane is situated on a bend of the Mekong river, which forms the border with Thailand at this point.-Climate:Vientiane features a tropical wet and dry climate with a distinct monsoon season and a dry season. Vientiane’s dry season spans from November through March. April marks the...

-Nongkhai would be lower.

In a large river system like the Mekong, seasonal flows can be quite variable from year to year. Although the pattern of the annual hydrograph is fairly predictable, its magnitude is not. The average monthly flows along the mainstream are listed in Table 3, providing an indication of their range and variability from year to year. At Pakse, for example, flood season flows during August would exceed 20,000 cubic metres per second 9 years out of 10, but exceed 34,000 m³/s only 1 year in ten.

Table 3: Mekong Mainstream monthly discharge 1960 to 2004 (m³/s).
Month Chian Saen Luang Prabang Vientiane Nakhon Phanom Mukdahan Pakse Kratie
Jan 1,150 1,690 1,760 2,380 2,370 2,800 3,620
Feb 930 1,280 1,370 1,860 1,880 2,170 2,730
Mar 830 1,060 1,170 1,560 1,600 1,840 2,290
Apr 910 1,110 1,190 1,530 1,560 1,800 2,220
May 1,300 1,570 1,720 2,410 2,430 2,920 3,640
Jun 2,460 3,110 3,410 6,610 7,090 8,810 11,200
Jul 4,720 6,400 6,920 12,800 13,600 16,600 22,200
Aug 6,480 9,920 11,000 19,100 20,600 26,200 35,500
Sep 5,510 8,990 10,800 18,500 19,800 26,300 36,700
Oct 3,840 5,750 6,800 10,200 10,900 15,400 22,000
Nov 2,510 3,790 4,230 5,410 5,710 7,780 10,900
Dec 1,590 2,400 2,560 3,340 3,410 4,190 5,710


There is little evidence from the last 45 years of data of any systematic changes in the hydrological regime of the Mekong.

Mekong River modifications


The Mekong is already heavily dammed, with many more dams planned and under construction. See Mekong River Basin Hydropower
Mekong River Basin Hydropower
The estimated hydropower potential of the lower Mekong Basin is 30,000 MW, while that of the upper Mekong Basin is 28,930 MW. In the lower Mekong, more than 3,235 MW has been met through facilities built largely over the past ten years, while an additional 3,209 MW are currently under construction...

 development for more information.

Environmental concerns



The two most current issues facing the river are the building of dam
Dam
A dam is a barrier that impounds water or underground streams. Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. Hydropower and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are...

s and blasting of rapids.

A number of dams have already been built on the river's tributaries, notably the Pak Mun dam
Pak Mun dam
The Pak Mun Dam is a gravity dam located 5.5 km west of the confluence of the Mun and Mekong rivers in Ubon Ratchathani province, Thailand...

 in Thailand. This has been criticised on grounds of cost as well as damage to the environment and to the livelihoods of affected villagers, though none have been built on the main part itself.

China is engaged in an extensive program of dam-building on the river itself: it has already completed three, the first called the Manwan dam, another twelve are under consideration.

Poverty stricken Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

 is one nation that is completely dependent on the river for food and the vast majority of its fledgling economy. The annual floods provide much needed water for crops of the otherwise dry dusty land, and to refresh Tonle Sap
Tonlé Sap
The Tonlé Sap is a combined lake and river system of major importance to Cambodia.The Tonlé Sap is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and is an ecological hot spot that was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997....

, yet its major cities are all vulnerable to flooding. The Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve
Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve
The Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve is a unique ecological phenomenon surrounding the Tonle Sap or Great Lake of Cambodia. In 1997, it was successfully nominated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.-Tonle Sap:...

 has been created to try to protect areas around the Tonle Sap Lake and river, which is connected to the Mekong.

The Mekong River Commission
Mekong River Commission
The Mekong River Commission is an intergovernment body charged “to promote and co-ordinate sustainable management and development of water and related resources for the countries’ mutual benefit and the people’s well-being by implementing strategic programmes and activities and providing...

, a panel of the region's nations, has accused China of blatantly disregarding the nations downstream in its plans to dam the river in an effort to stop the dams, but to no avail. Since the building of the first Chinese dam, many species have become endangered
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

, including the Mekong Dolphin
Irrawaddy dolphin
The Irrawaddy dolphin is a euryhaline species of oceanic dolphin found in discontinuous subpopulations near sea coasts and in estuaries and rivers in parts of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia.-Etymology and taxonomic history:...

 and dugong
Dugong
The dugong is a large marine mammal which, together with the manatees, is one of four living species of the order Sirenia. It is the only living representative of the once-diverse family Dugongidae; its closest modern relative, Steller's sea cow , was hunted to extinction in the 18th century...

, water levels have dropped as ferries get stuck, fish caught are small and the catch is less than half of before the dam, the turnover at Chiang Rai port is less than one fourth of previous years, and crossings from Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai
-Demographics:Official Population count: According to the Thailand National Statistical Office, as of September 2010, Chiang Rai municipal district has a population of 199,699...

 to isolated Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang, or Louangphrabang , is a city located in north central Laos, where the Nam Khan river meets the Mekong River about north of Vientiane. It is the capital of Luang Prabang Province...

 have lengthened from 8 hours to 2 days due to inadequate water levels.

Despite all these problems, new dams planned will have significantly worse impact if carried out as planned. All nations downstream and the environment will suffer from added pollution
Pollution
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light...

 (due to development and relatively lax regulation
Regulation
Regulation is administrative legislation that constitutes or constrains rights and allocates responsibilities. It can be distinguished from primary legislation on the one hand and judge-made law on the other...

 and enforcement in China compared to Thailand, poisoning the food supply from pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

 runoff and heavy industry
Heavy industry
Heavy industry does not have a single fixed meaning as compared to light industry. It can mean production of products which are either heavy in weight or in the processes leading to their production. In general, it is a popular term used within the name of many Japanese and Korean firms, meaning...

, as well as promoting algal blooms from organophosphates from agriculture, as well as water hyacinth
Water hyacinth
The seven species of water hyacinth comprise the genus Eichhornia. Water hyacinth are a free-floating perennial aquatic plant native to tropical and sub-tropical South America. With broad, thick, glossy, ovate leaves, water hyacinth may rise above the surface of the water as much as 1 meter in...

 infestation), river blockage problems as fish cannot swim upstream to spawn, and potentially devastating very low water flow.

Other environmental concerns arise from increased water flow in some parts as China clears rocks and sandbars, blasts gorges, and slows water as it dams and floods other sections, and relocates indigenous
Indigenous (ecology)
In biogeography, a species is defined as native to a given region or ecosystem if its presence in that region is the result of only natural processes, with no human intervention. Every natural organism has its own natural range of distribution in which it is regarded as native...

 peoples. Cambodia is by far the most exposed, depending on a fine balance of water flow, fearing scenarios of mass famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

 and devastating floods, the likes of which destroyed the Angkor
Angkor
Angkor is a region of Cambodia that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire, which flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. The word Angkor is derived from the Sanskrit nagara , meaning "city"...

 kingdom 700 years ago. Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

' biggest cities all hug the Mekong as does Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

's largest city and financial hub, Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City , formerly named Saigon is the largest city in Vietnam...

, which would be vulnerable mostly to low flow and pollution.

Natural History of the Mekong River Basin



The Mekong basin is one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world. Only the Amazon boasts a higher level of biodiversity. Biota estimates for the Greater Mekong Subregion
Greater Mekong Subregion
The Greater Mekong Subregion is not a geological region, but rather, a development project mooted by the Asian Development Bank in 1992 that brought together the riparian states of the Mekong River basin, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Yunnan Province of China...

 (GMS) include 20,000 plant species, 430 mammals, 1,200 birds, 800 reptiles and amphibians and an estimated 850 fish species. In 2009, 145 new species were described from the Mekong Region, comprising 29 fish species previously unknown to science, two new bird species, ten reptiles, five mammals, 96 plants and six new amphibians The Mekong Region contains 16 WWF
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

 Global 200
Global 200
The Global 200 is the list of ecoregions identified by the World Wildlife Fund as priorities for conservation. According to the WWF, an ecoregion is defined as a "relatively large unit of land or water containing a characteristic set of natural communities that share a large majority of their...

 ecoregions, the greatest concentration of ecoregions in mainland Asia

No other river is home to so many species of very large fish. The biggest include the giant river carp
Jullien's Golden Carp
The Jullien's Golden Carp, Seven-striped Barb, Isok Barb, Barbeau De Jullien, or Carpilla Ikan Temoleh is a species of freshwater ray-finned fish in the Cyprinidae family....

 (Probarbus jullieni), which can grow up to 1.5 metre and weigh 70 kilograms (154.3 lb), the Mekong Freshwater Stingray (Himantura chaophraya), which can have a wingspan of up to 4.3 metres (14.1 ft), the giant pangasius
Giant pangasius
The giant pangasius or Chao Phraya giant catfish is a species of freshwater fish in the shark catfish family of order Siluriformes, found in the Chao Phraya and Mekong basins. These fish are benthopelagic swimmers.- Physical characteristics :The giant pangasius is pigmented with dusky melanophores...

 (Pangasius sanitwongsei), Siamese giant carp
Giant Barb
The giant barb or Siamese giant carp, Catlocarpio siamensis , is the largest species of carp in the world. These migratory fish are found only in the Mae Klong, Mekong and Chao Phraya river basins...

 (Catlocarpio siamensis) and the endemic Mekong giant catfish
Mekong giant catfish
The Mekong giant catfish, Pangasianodon gigas, is a species of catfish in the shark catfish family , native to the Mekong basin in Southeast Asia.-Species characteristics:...

 (Pangasianodon gigas), all three of which can grow up to about 3 metre in length and weigh 300 kilograms (661.4 lb). All of these are in serious decline, both because of dams and flood control and overfishing.

One species of freshwater dolphin, the Irrawaddy Dolphin
Irrawaddy dolphin
The Irrawaddy dolphin is a euryhaline species of oceanic dolphin found in discontinuous subpopulations near sea coasts and in estuaries and rivers in parts of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia.-Etymology and taxonomic history:...

 (Orcaella brevirostris), was once common in the whole of the Lower Mekong but is now very rare.

Among other wetland mammals that have been living in and around the river are the smooth-coated otter
Smooth-coated Otter
The Smooth-coated Otter is a species of otter, the only extant representative of the genus Lutrogale. The species is found from southern Pakistan and parts of the India east to Southeast Asia, and there is a disjunct population in Iraq...

 (Lutra perspicillata) and fishing cat
Fishing Cat
The Fishing Cat is a medium-sized wild cat of South and Southeast Asia. In 2008, the IUCN classified the fishing cat as endangered since they are concentrated primarily in wetland habitats, which are increasingly being settled, degraded and converted...

 (Felis viverrina).

The endangered Siamese crocodile
Siamese Crocodile
Siamese crocodile is a freshwater crocodile native to Indonesia , Brunei, East Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam...

 (Crocodylus siamensis) occurs in small isolated pockets within the northern Cambodian and Laotian portions of the Mekong River. The Saltwater crocodile
Saltwater Crocodile
The saltwater crocodile, also known as estuarine or Indo-Pacific crocodile, is the largest of all living reptiles...

 (Crocodylus porosus) once ranged from the Mekong Delta up the river into Tonle Sap and beyond but is now extinct in the river, along with being extinct in all of Vietnam and possibly even Cambodia.

Geology of the Mekong River Basin


The internal drainage patterns of the Mekong are unusual when compared to those of other large rivers Most large river systems that drain the interiors of continents, such as the Amazon
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

, Congo
Congo River
The Congo River is a river in Africa, and is the deepest river in the world, with measured depths in excess of . It is the second largest river in the world by volume of water discharged, though it has only one-fifth the volume of the world's largest river, the Amazon...

, and Mississippi
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

, have relatively simple dendritic tributary networks that resemble a branching tree. Typically, such patterns develop in basins with gentle slopes where the underlying geological structure is fairly homogenous and stable, exerting little or no control on river morphology
River morphology
The terms river morphology and its synonym fluvial geomorphology are used to describe the shapes of river channels and how they change over time...

. In marked contrast, the tributary networks of the Salween
Salween River
The Salween is a river, about long, that flows from the Tibetan Plateau into the Andaman Sea in Southeast Asia. It drains a narrow and mountainous watershed of that extends into the countries China, Burma and Thailand. Steep canyon walls line the swift, powerful and undammed Salween, one of 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...

, and particularly the Mekong, are complex with different sub-basins often exhibiting different, and distinct, drainage patterns. These complex drainage systems have developed in a setting where the underlying geological structure is heterogeneous and active, and is the major factor controlling the course of rivers and the landscapes they carve out

The elevation of the Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

 during the Tertiary
Tertiary
The Tertiary is a deprecated term for a geologic period 65 million to 2.6 million years ago. The Tertiary covered the time span between the superseded Secondary period and the Quaternary...

 period was an important factor in the genesis of the south-west monsoon
Monsoon
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea...

, which is the dominant climatic control influencing the hydrology of the Mekong Basin. Understanding the nature and timing of the elevation of Tibet (and the Central Highlands of Viet Nam) therefore helps explain the provenance of sediment reaching the delta and the Tonle Sap
Tonlé Sap
The Tonlé Sap is a combined lake and river system of major importance to Cambodia.The Tonlé Sap is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and is an ecological hot spot that was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997....

 Great Lake today. Studies of the provenance of sediments in the Mekong Delta reveal a major switch in the source of sediments about eight million years ago (Ma). From 36 to 8 Ma the bulk (76%) of the sediments deposited in the delta came from erosion of the bedrock in the Three Rivers Area
Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas
The Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Yunnan province, China.It lies within the drainage basins of the upper reaches of the Yangtze , Mekong and Salween rivers, in the Yunnanese section of the Hengduan Mountains.-Overview:-Geography:The protected...

. From 8 Ma to the present, however, the contribution from the Three Rivers Area fell to 40%, while that from the Central Highlands rose from 11 to 51%. One of the most striking conclusions of provenance studies is the small contribution of sediment from the other parts of the Mekong Basin, notably the Khorat Plateau
Khorat Plateau
The Khorat Plateau also Korat Plateau, is a plateau in the northeastern region of Thailand, named for the short form of Nakhon Ratchasima, an historical stronghold controlling access to and from the plateau.-Geography:...

, the uplands of northern Lao PDR and northern Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, and the mountain ranges south of the Three Rivers Area.

The last glacial period came to an abrupt end about 19,000 years ago (ka) when sea levels rose rapidly, reaching a maximum of about 4.5 m above present levels in the early Holocene at about 8 ka. At this time the shoreline of the South China Sea
South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...

 almost reached Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city of Cambodia. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Phnom Penh has been the national capital since the French colonized Cambodia, and has grown to become the nation's center of economic and industrial activities, as well as the center of security,...

 and cores recovered from near Angkor Borei contained sediments deposited under the influence of tides, and salt marsh and mangrove swamp deposits. Sediments deposited in the Tonle Sap Great Lake about this time (7.9–7.3 ka) also show indications of marine influence, suggesting a connection to the South China Sea. Although the hydraulic relationships between the Mekong and the Tonle Sap
Tonlé Sap
The Tonlé Sap is a combined lake and river system of major importance to Cambodia.The Tonlé Sap is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and is an ecological hot spot that was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997....

 Great Lake systems during the Holocene
Holocene
The Holocene is a geological epoch which began at the end of the Pleistocene and continues to the present. The Holocene is part of the Quaternary period. Its name comes from the Greek words and , meaning "entirely recent"...

 are not well understood, it is clear that between 9,000 and 7,500 years ago the confluence of the Tonle Sap and the Mekong was in close proximity to the South China Sea.

The present river morphology of the Mekong Delta developed over the last 6,000 years. During this period, the delta advanced 200 km over the continental shelf of the South China Sea, covering an area of more than 62,500 km2. From 5.3 to 3.5 ka the delta advanced across a broad embayment formed between higher ground near the Cambodian border and uplands north of Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City , formerly named Saigon is the largest city in Vietnam...

. During this phase of its development the delta was sheltered from the wave action of long-shore currents and was constructed largely through fluvial and tidal processes. At this time the delta was advancing at a rate of 17–18 m per year. After 3.5 ka, however, the delta had built out beyond the embayment and became subject to wave action and marine currents. These deflected deposition south-eastwards in the direction of the Cà Mau Peninsula
Ca Mau Peninsula
peninsula makes up the southern tip of Vietnam. It is in Ca Mau province, and lies between the Gulf of Thailand to the west and the South China Sea to the east....

, which is one of the most recent features of the delta.

For much of its length the Mekong flows through bedrock channels, i.e. channels that are confined or constrained by bedrock or old alluvium in the bed and riverbanks. Geomorphologic
Geomorphology
Geomorphology is the scientific study of landforms and the processes that shape them...

 features normally associated with the alluvial stretches of mature rivers, such as meander
Meander
A meander in general is a bend in a sinuous watercourse. A meander is formed when the moving water in a stream erodes the outer banks and widens its valley. A stream of any volume may assume a meandering course, alternately eroding sediments from the outside of a bend and depositing them on the...

s, oxbow lake
Oxbow lake
An oxbow lake is a U-shaped body of water formed when a wide meander from the main stem of a river is cut off to create a lake. This landform is called an oxbow lake for the distinctive curved shape, named after part of a yoke for oxen. In Australia, an oxbow lake is called a billabong, derived...

s, cut-offs, and extensive floodplains are restricted to a short stretch of the mainstream around Vientiane
Vientiane
-Geography:Vientiane is situated on a bend of the Mekong river, which forms the border with Thailand at this point.-Climate:Vientiane features a tropical wet and dry climate with a distinct monsoon season and a dry season. Vientiane’s dry season spans from November through March. April marks the...

 and downstream of Kratie where the river develops alluvial channels that are free of control exerted by the underlying bedrock.

The Mekong Basin is not normally considered a seismically active area as much of the basin is underlain by the relatively stable continental block. Nonetheless, the parts of the basin in northern Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, northern Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

 and 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...

 do experience frequent earthquakes and tremors. The magnitude of these earthquakes rarely exceeds 6.5 on the Richter scale and is unlikely to cause material damage.

History




The difficulty of navigating the river has meant that it has divided, rather than united, the people who live near it. The earliest known settlements date to 2100 BC, with Ban Chiang
Ban Chiang
Ban Chiang is an archeological site located in Nong Han district, Udon Thani Province, Thailand. It has been on the UNESCO world heritage list since 1992....

 being an excellent example of that early Iron Age culture. The earliest recorded civilization was the 1st century India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

nised-Khmer culture of Funan, in the Mekong Delta. Excavations at Oc Eo
Óc Eo
Óc Eo is an archaeological site in Thoại Sơn District in southern An Giang Province, Vietnam, in the Mekong River Delta region of Vietnam. It is also one of the modern day communes of Vietnam. Óc Eo may have been a busy port of the kingdom of Funan between the 1st and 7th centuries AD...

, near modern An Giang, have found coins from as far away as the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. This was succeeded by the Khmer
Khmer people
Khmer people are the predominant ethnic group in Cambodia, accounting for approximately 90% of the 14.8 million people in the country. They speak the Khmer language, which is part of the larger Mon–Khmer language family found throughout Southeast Asia...

 culture Chenla
Chenla
Chenla is the Chinese designation for Cambodia after the fall of Funan. That name was still used in the 13th century by the Chinese envoy Zhou Daguan, author of the Manners and Customs of Cambodia...

 state by around the 5th century. The Khmer empire
Khmer Empire
The Khmer Empire was one of the most powerful empires in Southeast Asia. The empire, which grew out of the former kingdom of Chenla, at times ruled over and/or vassalized parts of modern-day Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, and Malaysia. Its greatest legacy is Angkor, the site of the capital city...

 of Angkor
Angkor
Angkor is a region of Cambodia that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire, which flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. The word Angkor is derived from the Sanskrit nagara , meaning "city"...

 was the last great Indianized state in the region. From around the time of the fall of the Khmer empire, the Mekong was the frontline between the emergent states of Siam
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 and Tonkin (North Vietnam), with Laos and Cambodia, then situated on the coast, torn between their influence.

The first Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an to encounter the Mekong was the Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 Antonio de Faria in 1540; a European map of 1563 depicts the river, although even by then little was known of the river upstream of the delta. European interest was sporadic: the Spaniard
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

s and Portuguese mounted some missionary and trade expeditions, while the Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 Gerrit van Wuysthoff led an expedition up the river as far as Vientiane in 1641–42.

The French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 took a serious interest in the region in the mid-19th century, capturing Saigon in 1861, and establishing a protectorate over Cambodia in 1863.

The first systematic exploration began with the French Mekong Expedition led by Ernest Doudard de Lagrée and Francis Garnier
Francis Garnier
Marie Joseph François Garnier was a French officer and explorer known for his exploration of the Mekong River in Southeast Asia.- Early career :...

, which ascended the river from its mouth to Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 between 1866 to 1868. Their chief finding was that the Mekong had too many falls and rapids to ever be useful for navigation
Navigation
Navigation is the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another. It is also the term of art used for the specialized knowledge used by navigators to perform navigation tasks...

. The river's source was located by Pyotr Kuzmich Kozlov in 1900.

From 1893, the French extended their control of the river into Laos, establishing French Indochina
French Indochina
French Indochina was part of the French colonial empire in southeast Asia. A federation of the three Vietnamese regions, Tonkin , Annam , and Cochinchina , as well as Cambodia, was formed in 1887....

 by the first decade of the 20th century. This lasted until the First
First Indochina War
The First Indochina War was fought in French Indochina from December 19, 1946, until August 1, 1954, between the French Union's French Far East...

 and Second
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 Indochina Wars ended French and American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 involvement in the region began.

After the Vietnam War, the tensions between the U.S.-backed Thai government and the new Communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 governments in the other countries prevented cooperation on use of the river.

Bridges


The Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge
Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge
The First Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge is a bridge over the Mekong, connecting Nong Khai province and the city of Nong Khai in Thailand with Vientiane Prefecture in Laos - the city of Vientiane is approximately 20 km from the bridge...

  connects Nong Khai
Nong Khai
Nong Khai is a city in North-East Thailand and is the capital of the Nong Khai Province...

 city with Vientiane
Vientiane
-Geography:Vientiane is situated on a bend of the Mekong river, which forms the border with Thailand at this point.-Climate:Vientiane features a tropical wet and dry climate with a distinct monsoon season and a dry season. Vientiane’s dry season spans from November through March. April marks the...

 in Laos. The 1170 metres (3,838.6 ft)-long bridge has two 3.5 metres (11.5 ft)-wide lanes with a single railway line in the middle. On March 20, 2004, the Thai and Lao governments agreed to extend the railway to Tha Nalaeng in Laos, this extension has since been completed.

The Second Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge
Second Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge
The Second Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge over the Mekong connects Mukdahan Province in Thailand with Savannakhet in Laos. The bridge is 1600 meters long and 12 meters wide, with two traffic lanes....

 connects Mukdahan
Mukdahan
Mukdahan capital of Mukdahan province, became Thailand's 73d province in 1982. Located in the northeastern region of the country, on the banks of the river Mekong, it was formerly as district of Nakhon Phanom Province...

 to Savannakhet
Savannakhet
Savannakhet or Kaysone Phomvihane is a city in western Laos and the capital of the Savannakhet Province, previously known as Khanthabouli . This is the second-largest city in Laos, after Vientiane. The city is birthtown of Kaysone Phomvihane, former president of Laos, and was named after him in...

. The two-lane, 12 metres (39.4 ft)-wide, 1600 metres (5,249.3 ft)-long bridge opened to the general public on January 9, 2007.

There are only three bridges, located in Champasak province, in Laos. Unlike the Friendship bridges, this bridge is not a border crossing. It is 1380 metres (4,528 ft) long, and was completed in 2000 (Pakxe
Pakxe
Pakxe or Pakse is a city of 70,000 in southern Laos, situated at the confluence of the Xedone and Mekong Rivers. It is the largest city in Champasak province and its capital. It is served by Pakse International Airport and is the gateway to the Bolaven Plateau...

 bridge 15°6′19.95"N 105°48′49.51"E).

A new bridge over the Mekong is to be completed by 2011, connecting the border towns of Chiang Khong
Chiang Khong
Wiang Chiang Khong is a small town at the Mekong river in the northeast of Chiang Rai Province in Thailand, the central town of Chiang Khong district. It is the northernmost border crossing of the country into Laos .As of 2005 the town has a population of 4,342 and covers an area of 1.80 km²....

 (Thailand) and Ban Houayxay
Ban Houayxay
Ban Houayxay is the capital of the Lao province of Bokèo, on the border with Thailand....

 (Laos), as part of Asian Highway 3. The Chinese and Thai governments agreed to build the bridge and share the estimated $33USD million dollar cost of the project.

Another new bridge is to be built at [Neak Leung] on the Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh highway with Japanese government assistance, anticipated to be opened in 2014.

Cambodia has one two-lane bridge, the Kizuna bridge in the city of Kompong Cham, on the road linking Phnom Penh with the remote provinces of Ratanakiri
Ratanakiri
Ratanakiri is a province in northeastern Cambodia that borders Laos to the north, Vietnam to the east, Mondulkiri Province to the south, and Stung Treng Province to the west. The province extends from the mountains of the Annamite Range in the north, across a hilly plateau between the Tonle San...

 and Mondolkiri, and further away Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

.

The Prek Tamak Bridge
Prek Tamak Bridge
The Prek Tamak Bridge is situated 40 km north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia and should provide another link between East and West by crossing the Mekong....

, 40 km north of Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city of Cambodia. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Phnom Penh has been the national capital since the French colonized Cambodia, and has grown to become the nation's center of economic and industrial activities, as well as the center of security,...

 will provide another link in 2011.

Phnom Penh itself has no bridge under construction yet, although two new bridges have recently opened on the Tonle Sap, and the main bridge on the highway to Ho Chi Minh was duplicated in 2010.

In Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, since the year 2000 My Thuan Bridge (Mỹ Thuận), crosses the first channel a dozen km ahead of Vinh Long (Vĩnh Long) and since 2008 Rach Mieu Bridge
Rach Mieu Bridge
Rach Mieu Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge in the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam. The bridge connects Tien Giang Province with Ben Tre Province, over the Mekong. The construction began on 30 April 2002 and achieved completion on 19 January 2008, also its inaugural date...

 (Rạch Miễu) crosses it a dozen km ahead of de My Tho (Mỹ Tho), between the provinces de Tien Giang (Tiền Giang) and Ben Tre (Bến Tre).

Can Tho Bridge
Can Tho Bridge
Cần Thơ Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge over the Hậu River, the largest distributary of the Mekong River, in the city of Cần Thơ in southern Vietnam. The bridge is 2.75 kilometres long . It has a 6-lane carriageway measuring 23 metres in width, with 4 lanes for traffic and two pedestrian lanes...

 (Cần Thơ), cross the second channel, inaugurated in 2010, is the longest main span cable-stayed bridge in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

.

Protected areas

  • The headwaters of the Mekong in Zadoi County
    Zadoi County
    Zadoi County is a county of Qinghai Province, China. It is under the administration of Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture....

    , Qinghai
    Qinghai
    Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

    , China, are protected in Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve
    Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve
    The Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve The Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve The Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve (SNNR; ; Tibetan: (གཙང་གསུམ་འབུང་ཁུངས་རང་བྱུང་སྲུང་སྐྱོབ་ཁུལ།) also referred to as the Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve, or the Three Rivers Nature Reserve, is the area of Qinghai...

    . The name Sanjiangyuan means "the Sources of the Three Rivers"; the reserve also includes the headwaters of the Yellow River
    Yellow River
    The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

     and the Yangtze.
  • The section of the river flowing through deep gorges in Yunnan
    Yunnan
    Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

     province is part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas
    Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas
    The Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Yunnan province, China.It lies within the drainage basins of the upper reaches of the Yangtze , Mekong and Salween rivers, in the Yunnanese section of the Hengduan Mountains.-Overview:-Geography:The protected...

    ; a UNESCO World Heritage Site
    World Heritage Site
    A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

    .
  • The Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve
    Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve
    The Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve is a unique ecological phenomenon surrounding the Tonle Sap or Great Lake of Cambodia. In 1997, it was successfully nominated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.-Tonle Sap:...

     in Cambodia contains the largest lake in Southeast Asia. It is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve
    Biosphere reserve
    The Man and the Biosphere Programme of UNESCO was established in 1971 to promote interdisciplinary approaches to management, research and education in ecosystem conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.-Development:...

    .

Miscellany

  • Balls of light are observable from time to time rising from the water's surface in the stretch of the river near Vientiane
    Vientiane
    -Geography:Vientiane is situated on a bend of the Mekong river, which forms the border with Thailand at this point.-Climate:Vientiane features a tropical wet and dry climate with a distinct monsoon season and a dry season. Vientiane’s dry season spans from November through March. April marks the...

     or Nong Khai
    Nong Khai
    Nong Khai is a city in North-East Thailand and is the capital of the Nong Khai Province...

    . These are sometimes referred to as Naga fireballs
    Naga fireballs
    The Naga fireballs , also referred to as Mekong lights, are a phenomenon seen in the Mekong river—in Thailand and in Laos —in which glowing balls rise from the water high into the air...

    . The locals attribute the phenomenon to Phaya Naga
    Phaya Naga
    The Phaya Naga or Naga are mythical serpent-like creatures believed by locals to live in the Laotian stretch of the Mekong river or estuaries.Some have tried to explain sightings as oarfish , elongate fish with red crests. However these are exclusively marine and usually live great depths...

    , Mekong Dragons.
  • The low tide level of the river in Cambodia is lower than the high tide level out at sea, and the flow of the Mekong inverts with the tides throughout its stretch in Vietnam and up to Phnom Penh. The very flat Mekong Delta
    Mekong Delta
    The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of . The size of the area covered by water depends on the season.The...

     area in Vietnam is thus prone to flooding, especially in the provinces of An Giang and Dong Thap (Đồng Tháp), near the Cambodian border.
  • A South- and Southeast Asian regional association, the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation
    Mekong-Ganga Cooperation
    Mekong-Ganga Cooperation was established on November 10, 2000 at Vientiane in the First MGC Ministerial Meeting. It comprises six Member countries namely, India, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam...

    , is named after both this river and the Ganges river.

See also

  • Mekong Delta
    Mekong Delta
    The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of . The size of the area covered by water depends on the season.The...

  • Stung Sen River
    Stung Sen River
    Stung Sen River is a river in Cambodia. It is a major tributary of the Tonlé Sap....

  • Mekong River Basin Hydropower
    Mekong River Basin Hydropower
    The estimated hydropower potential of the lower Mekong Basin is 30,000 MW, while that of the upper Mekong Basin is 28,930 MW. In the lower Mekong, more than 3,235 MW has been met through facilities built largely over the past ten years, while an additional 3,209 MW are currently under construction...

  • Sekong River
  • Tonle Sap
    Tonlé Sap
    The Tonlé Sap is a combined lake and river system of major importance to Cambodia.The Tonlé Sap is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and is an ecological hot spot that was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997....

  • Mekong River Commission
    Mekong River Commission
    The Mekong River Commission is an intergovernment body charged “to promote and co-ordinate sustainable management and development of water and related resources for the countries’ mutual benefit and the people’s well-being by implementing strategic programmes and activities and providing...

  • Greater Mekong Sub-region Academic and Research Network
    Greater Mekong Sub-region Academic and Research Network
    The Greater Mekong Sub-region Academic and Research Network is a network of academic and research institutions in a Greater Mekong sub-region....

  • GMS Environment Operations Center
    GMS Environment Operations Center
    Greater Mekong Subregion Environment Operations Center was established in early 2006 to serve as the information and knowledge clearing house for environmental management in the Greater Mekong Subregion and is responsible for facilitating the timely and effective implementation of the GMS Core...


External links