Yellow River

Yellow River

Overview
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest 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...

 (after 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 the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of 5464 kilometres (3,395.2 mi). Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains
Bayan Har Mountains
The Bayan Har mountains are a mountain range in south-central part of Qinghai Province and the northwestern part of Sichuan Province in the People's Republic of China. It can be viewed as one of the branches of the Kunlun Mountains...

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

 Province
Province (China)
A province, in the context of Chinese government, is a translation of sheng formally provincial level divisions, which is an administrative division. Provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions, and the special administrative regions, make up the four types of province of administrative division...

 in western 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 flows through nine provinces of China and empties into the Bohai Sea
Bohai Sea
Bohai Sea , also known as Bohai Gulf, Bohai, or Bo Hai, is the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea on the coast of Northeastern and North China. It is approximately 78,000 km2 Bohai Sea , also known as Bohai Gulf, Bohai, or Bo Hai, is the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea on the coast of...

.
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Encyclopedia
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest 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...

 (after 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 the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of 5464 kilometres (3,395.2 mi). Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains
Bayan Har Mountains
The Bayan Har mountains are a mountain range in south-central part of Qinghai Province and the northwestern part of Sichuan Province in the People's Republic of China. It can be viewed as one of the branches of the Kunlun Mountains...

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

 Province
Province (China)
A province, in the context of Chinese government, is a translation of sheng formally provincial level divisions, which is an administrative division. Provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions, and the special administrative regions, make up the four types of province of administrative division...

 in western 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 flows through nine provinces of China and empties into the Bohai Sea
Bohai Sea
Bohai Sea , also known as Bohai Gulf, Bohai, or Bo Hai, is the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea on the coast of Northeastern and North China. It is approximately 78,000 km2 Bohai Sea , also known as Bohai Gulf, Bohai, or Bo Hai, is the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea on the coast of...

. The Yellow River basin has an east-west extent of 1900 km (1,180 mi) and a north-south extent of 1100 km (684 mi). Its total basin area is 742,443 km² (290,520 mi²).

The Yellow River is called "the cradle of Chinese civilization" as its basinspecifically, the Wei valley
Wei River
The Wei River is a major river in west-central China's Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. It is the largest tributary of the Yellow River and very important in the early development of Chinese civilization....

 that cuts across the long Ordos loop
Ordos Loop
The Ordos Loop is a region of China west of Beijing. The Yellow River flows north-northeast, then east, and then south forming three sides of an imperfect rectangle. The south side is formed by the Wei River which rises not far from the southwest corner and flows east to the southeast corner...

was the birthplace of ancient Chinese civilizations and the most prosperous region in early Chinese history. However, frequent devastating floods
Natural disasters in China
China is one of the countries most affected by natural disasters. It had 5 of the world's top 10 deadliest natural disasters; the top 3 occurred in China: the 1931 China floods, death toll 3 million to 4 million, the 1887 Yellow River flood, death toll 0.9 million to 2 million, and the 1556...

 and course changes produced by the continual elevation of the river bed, sometimes above the level of its surrounding fields has also earned it the unenviable names "China's Sorrow" and "Scourge of the Sons of Han."

Name


Early Chinese literature refers to the Yellow River simply as (Old Chinese
Old Chinese
The earliest known written records of the Chinese language were found at a site near modern Anyang identified as Yin, the last capital of the Shang dynasty, and date from about 1200 BC....

: *C.gˤaj), a character that has come to simply mean "river" in modern usage. The first appearance of the name (Old Chinese
Old Chinese
The earliest known written records of the Chinese language were found at a site near modern Anyang identified as Yin, the last capital of the Shang dynasty, and date from about 1200 BC....

: *N-kʷˤaŋ C.gˤaj; Middle Chinese
Middle Chinese
Middle Chinese , also called Ancient Chinese by the linguist Bernhard Karlgren, refers to the Chinese language spoken during Southern and Northern Dynasties and the Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties...

: Hwang Ha) is in the Book of Han
Book of Han
The Book of Han, Hanshu or History of the Former Han Dynasty |Fan Ye]] . Various scholars have estimated that the earliest material covered in the book dates back to between 206 and 202 BCE...

 written during the Western Han dynasty (206 BCAD 9). The epithet "yellow" describes the perennial color of the muddy water in the lower course of the river, arising from loess
Loess
Loess is an aeolian sediment formed by the accumulation of wind-blown silt, typically in the 20–50 micrometre size range, twenty percent or less clay and the balance equal parts sand and silt that are loosely cemented by calcium carbonate...

 being carried downstream.

One of its older Mongolian
Mongolian language
The Mongolian language is the official language of Mongolia and the best-known member of the Mongolic language family. The number of speakers across all its dialects may be 5.2 million, including the vast majority of the residents of Mongolia and many of the Mongolian residents of the Inner...

 names was the "Black River", as it runs clear prior to its entry onto the Loess Plateau
Loess Plateau
The Loess Plateau , also known as the Huangtu Plateau, is a plateau that covers an area of some 640,000 km² in the upper and middle reaches of China's Yellow River. Loess is the name for the silty sediment that has been deposited by wind storms on the plateau over the ages...

, but the current name of the river among Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

ns is Ȟatan Gol . In Mongolia itself, it is simply called the Šar Mörön .

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

, the river's Tibetan
Tibetan language
The Tibetan languages are a cluster of mutually-unintelligible Tibeto-Burman languages spoken primarily by Tibetan peoples who live across a wide area of eastern Central Asia bordering the Indian subcontinent, including the Tibetan Plateau and the northern Indian subcontinent in Baltistan, Ladakh,...

 name is "River of the Peacock" (Tibetan
Tibetan language
The Tibetan languages are a cluster of mutually-unintelligible Tibeto-Burman languages spoken primarily by Tibetan peoples who live across a wide area of eastern Central Asia bordering the Indian subcontinent, including the Tibetan Plateau and the northern Indian subcontinent in Baltistan, Ladakh,...

: །, Ma Chu; 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...

: s , t , p
Pinyin
Pinyin is the official system to transcribe Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. It is also often used to teach Mandarin Chinese and spell Chinese names in foreign publications and used as an input method to enter Chinese characters into...

Mǎ Qū).

History


Prior to the advent of modern dams in China, the Yellow River was extremely prone to flooding. In the 2,540 years prior to AD 1946, the Yellow River has been reckoned to have flooded 1,593 times, shifting its course 26 times noticeably and nine times severely. These floods include some of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded. Before modern disaster management, when floods occurred, some of the population might initially die from drowning but then many more would suffer from the ensuing famine and spread of diseases.

The cause of the floods is the large amount of fine-grained loess
Loess
Loess is an aeolian sediment formed by the accumulation of wind-blown silt, typically in the 20–50 micrometre size range, twenty percent or less clay and the balance equal parts sand and silt that are loosely cemented by calcium carbonate...

 carried by the river from the Loess Plateau
Loess Plateau
The Loess Plateau , also known as the Huangtu Plateau, is a plateau that covers an area of some 640,000 km² in the upper and middle reaches of China's Yellow River. Loess is the name for the silty sediment that has been deposited by wind storms on the plateau over the ages...

, which is continuously deposited along the bottom of its channel. The sedimentation causes natural dams to slowly accrue. These subaqueous dams were unpredictable and generally undetectable. Eventually, the enormous amount of water has to find a new way to the sea and bursts out across the flat North China Plain
North China Plain
The North China Plain is based on the deposits of the Yellow River and is the largest alluvial plain of eastern Asia. The plain is bordered on the north by the Yanshan Mountains and on the west by the Taihang Mountains edge of the Shanxi plateau. To the south, it merges into the Yangtze Plain...

, sometimes finding a new course. The traditional Chinese response of building higher and higher levee
Levee
A levee, levée, dike , embankment, floodbank or stopbank is an elongated naturally occurring ridge or artificially constructed fill or wall, which regulates water levels...

s along the banks sometimes also contributed to the severity of the floods: When flood water did break through the levees, it could no longer drain back into the river bed as it would after a normal flood as the river bed was sometimes now higher than the surrounding countryside.

Another historical source of devastating floods is the collapse of upstream ice dam
Ice dam
An ice dam occurs when water builds up behind a blockage of ice. Ice dams can occur in various ways.-Caused by a glacier:Sometimes a glacier flows down a valley to a confluence where the other branch carries an unfrozen river...

s in Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

 with an accompanying sudden release of vast quantities of impounded water. There have been 11 such major floods in the past century, each causing tremendous loss of life and property. Nowadays, explosives dropped from aircraft are used to break the ice dams before they become dangerous.

Ancient times


Historical maps from the Spring and Autumn period English version: and Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 indicate that the Yellow River at that time flowed considerably north of its present course. These maps show that after the river passed Luoyang
Luoyang
Luoyang is a prefecture-level city in western Henan province of Central China. It borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast.Situated on the central plain of...

, it flowed along the border between Shanxi
Shanxi
' is a province in Northern China. Its one-character abbreviation is "晋" , after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn Period....

 and Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

 Provinces, then continued along the border between Hebei
Hebei
' is a province of the People's Republic of China in the North China region. Its one-character abbreviation is "" , named after Ji Province, a Han Dynasty province that included what is now southern Hebei...

 and Shandong before emptying into Bohai Bay
Bohai Bay
Bohai Bay is one of the three bays forming the Bohai Gulf, the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea, in northeast China. It borders Hebei province and Tianjin Municipality...

 near present-day Tianjin
Tianjin
' is a metropolis in northern China and one of the five national central cities of the People's Republic of China. It is governed as a direct-controlled municipality, one of four such designations, and is, thus, under direct administration of the central government...

. Another outlet followed essentially the present course.

The river left these paths in 602 BC and shifted completely south of the Shandong peninsula. Sabotage of dikes, canals, and reservoirs and deliberate flooding of rival states became a standard military tactic during the Warring States period
Warring States Period
The Warring States Period , also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC...

. Major flooding in AD 11 is credited with the downfall of the short-lived Xin dynasty
Xin Dynasty
The Xin Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty which lasted from AD 9 to 23. It followed the Western Han Dynasty and preceded the Eastern Han Dynasty....

, and another flood in AD 70 returned the river north of Shandong on essentially its present course.

Medieval times



In 923, a desperate Liang
Later Liang
The Later Liang was a state of the Sixteen Kingdoms during the Jin Dynasty in China. It was founded by the Lü family of the Di ethnicity.All rulers of the Later Liang proclaimed themselves "Heavenly Prince" ....

 general Tuan Ning again broke the dikes, flooding 1000 square miles (2,590 km²) in an failed attempt to protect the Liang capital from the Later Tang. A similar proposal from the Song engineer Li Chun
Li Chun
Li Chun , better known in Japan as is a Japan-based Chinese singer. She is a former member of Morning Musume, She joined Morning Musume alongside Linlin in 2007...

 concerning flooding the lower reaches of the river to protect the central plains from the Khitai was overruled in 1020: the Treaty of Shanyuan between the two states had expressly forbid the Song from establishing new moats or changing river courses.

Breaches occurred regardless: one at Henglong
Henglong
HenglongChinese: t , s , p Hénglǒng. is a former city in China.A burst fascine there in 1034 diverted the Yellow River north into three separate courses east of Daming, one terminating in the Chihe, another in the You, the last in the Jin...

 in 1034 divided the course in three and repeatedly flooded the northern regions of Dezhou
Dezhou
Dezhou is a prefecture-level city in northwestern Shandong province, People's Republic of China. It borders the provincial capital of Jinan to the southeast, Liaocheng to the southwest, Binzhou to the northeast, and the province of Hebei to the north....

 and Bozhou. The Song worked for five years futilely attempting to restore the previous courseusing over 35,000 employees, 100,000 conscripts, and 220,000 tons of wood and bamboo in a single yearbefore abandoning the project in 1041. The more sluggish river then occasioned a breach at Shanghu
Shanghu
ShanghuChinese: s , p Shānghú. is a former city of China.A burst fascine there shifted the course of the Yellow River north towards modern Tianjin in 1048. The damage occasioned by the 1034 flood had not yet been repaired, and the new flood was even worse, reducing the income of the rich northern...

 that sent the main outlet north towards Tianjin
Tianjin
' is a metropolis in northern China and one of the five national central cities of the People's Republic of China. It is governed as a direct-controlled municipality, one of four such designations, and is, thus, under direct administration of the central government...

 in 1048 and by 1194 blocked the mouth of the Huai River
Huai River
The Huai River is a major river in China. The Huai River is located about mid-way between the Yellow River and Yangtze River, the two largest rivers in China, and like them runs from west to east...

. The build up of silt deposits was such that even after the Yellow River later shifted its course, the Huai was no longer able to flow along its historic one. Instead, its water pools into Hongze Lake and then runs southward toward 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...

.

A flood in 1324 or 1344 returned the Yellow River south of Shandong.

The 1642 flood was man-made, caused by the attempt of the Ming
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 governor of Kaifeng
Kaifeng
Kaifeng , known previously by several names , is a prefecture-level city in east-central Henan province, Central China. Nearly 5 million people live in the metropolitan area...

 to use the river to destroy the peasant rebels under Li Zicheng who had been besieging the city for the past six months. He directed his men to break the dikes in an attempt to flood the rebels, but destroyed his own city instead: the flood and the ensuing famine and plague are estimated to have killed 300,000 of the city's previous population of 378,000. The once-prosperous city was nearly abandoned until its rebuilding under the Qing
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 emperor Kangxi.

Recent times



In 1851, 1853, or 1855, it returned to the north amid the floods that provoked the Nien Rebellion
Nien Rebellion
The Nien Rebellion was an armed uprising that took place in northern China from 1851 to 1868, contemporaneously with Taiping Rebellion in South China...

.

The 1887 flood
1887 Yellow River flood
The 1887 Yellow River flood was a devastating flood on the Yellow River in China. This river is prone to flooding due to the elevated nature of the river, running between dykes above the broad plains surrounding it. The flood that began in September 1887 stated the area, killing some 900,000 people...

 has been estimated to have killed between 900,000 and 2,000,000 people.

The Yellow River adopted essentially its present course during the 1897 flood.

The 1931 flood
1931 Yellow River flood
The 1931 Central China floods or the Central China floods of 1931 were a series of floods that occurred during the Nanjing decade in the Republic of China era. It is generally considered the deadliest natural disaster ever recorded; almost certainly the deadliest of the 20th century and in China...

 killed an estimated 1,000,000 to 4,000,000.
On 9 June 1938, during the Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

, Nationalist
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 troops under Chiang Kai-Shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

 broke the levees holding back the river near the village of Huayuankou
Huayuankou
Huayuankou is a town in Huiji District, used to be a ferry of the Yellow River in Zhengzhou, Henan, China.It has an area of 39 square kilometers and a population of 15,000....

 in Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

, causing what has been called a "war-induced natural disaster". The goal of the operation was to stop the advancing Japanese troops by following a strategy of "using water as a substitute for soldiers" (yishui daibing). The 1938 flood
1938 Yellow River flood
The 1938 Yellow River flood was a flood created by the Nationalist Government in central China during the early stage of the Second Sino-Japanese War in an attempt to halt the rapid advance of the Japanese forces...

 of an area covering 54,000 km² took some 500,000 to 900,000 Chinese lives, along with an unknown number of Japanese soldiers. The flood prevented the Japanese army from taking the city of Zhengzhou
Zhengzhou
Zhengzhou , is the capital and largest city of Henan province in north-central China. A prefecture-level city, it also serves as the political, economic, technological, and educational centre of the province, as well as a major transportation hub for Central China...

, but did not stop them from reaching their goal of capturing Wuhan
Wuhan
Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province, People's Republic of China, and is the most populous city in Central China. It lies at the east of the Jianghan Plain, and the intersection of the middle reaches of the Yangtze and Han rivers...

, the temporary capital of China at the time.

Characteristics



The Yellow River is notable for the large amount of silt
Silt
Silt is granular material of a size somewhere between sand and clay whose mineral origin is quartz and feldspar. Silt may occur as a soil or as suspended sediment in a surface water body...

 it carries—1.6 billion tons annually at the point where it descends from the Loess Plateau
Loess Plateau
The Loess Plateau , also known as the Huangtu Plateau, is a plateau that covers an area of some 640,000 km² in the upper and middle reaches of China's Yellow River. Loess is the name for the silty sediment that has been deposited by wind storms on the plateau over the ages...

. If it is running to the sea with sufficient volume, 1.4 billion tons are carried to the sea annually. One estimate gives 34 kilograms of silt per cubic meter as opposed to 10 for the Colorado and 1 for the Nile.

Its average discharge is said to be 2,110 cubic meters per second (32,000 for the Yangtze), with a maximum of 25,000 and minimum of 245. However, since 1972, it often runs dry before it reaches the sea. The low volume is due to increased agricultural irrigation
Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

, increased by a factor of five since 1950. Water diverted from the river as of 1999 served 140 million people and irrigated 74,000 km² (48,572 mi²) of land. The Yellow River delta totals 8,000 square kilometers (3,090 mi²). However, with the decrease in silt reaching the sea, it has been reported to be shrinking slightly each year since 1996 through erosion.

The highest volume occurs during the rainy season from July to October, when 60% of the annual volume of the river flows. Maximum demand for irrigation is needed between March and June. In order to capture excess water for use when needed and for flood control and electricity generation, several dams have been built, but their expected life is limited due to the high silt load. A proposed South-North Water Transfer Project
South-North Water Transfer Project
The South-North Water Transfer Project is a multi-decade infrastructure project of the People's Republic of China to better utilize water resources available to China. This is to be achieved through the South North Water Diversion Project...

 involves several schemes to divert water from 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...

: one in the western headwaters of the rivers where they are closest to one another, another from the upper reaches of the Han River
Han River (Hanshui)
The Han River is a left tributary of the Yangtze River with a length of 1532 km. Historically it was referred to as Hànshuǐ and the name is still occasionally used today....

, and a third using the route of the old Grand Canal
Grand Canal of China
The Grand Canal in China, also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is the longest canal or artificial river in the world. Starting at Beijing, it passes through Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the city of Hangzhou...

.

Due to its heavy load of silt the Yellow River is a depositing streamthat is, it deposits part of its carried burden of soil in its bed in stretches where it is flowing slowly. These deposits elevate the riverbed which flows between natural levee
Levee
A levee, levée, dike , embankment, floodbank or stopbank is an elongated naturally occurring ridge or artificially constructed fill or wall, which regulates water levels...

s in its lower reaches. Should a flood occur, the river may break out of the levees into the surrounding lower flood plain and adopt a new course. Historically this has occurred about once every hundred years. In modern times, considerable effort has been made to strengthen levees and control floods.

Geography


According to the China Exploration and Research Society, the source of the Yellow River is at 34° 29' 31.1" N, 96° 20' 24.6" E in the Bayan Har Mountains
Bayan Har Mountains
The Bayan Har mountains are a mountain range in south-central part of Qinghai Province and the northwestern part of Sichuan Province in the People's Republic of China. It can be viewed as one of the branches of the Kunlun Mountains...

 near the eastern edge of Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. The source tribituaries drain into Gyaring Lake
Gyaring Lake
Gyaring Lake() or Zhaling Lake is a large freshwater lake in the Yellow River catchment in China, it is in the southeast of Qinghai Province.The name of lake means "Long Grey Lake" in Tibetan language. Gyaring Lake is 526 km 2, with a drainage area of 8161 km 2, an elevation of 4292 m, length 35...

 and Ngoring Lake
Ngoring Lake
Ngoring Lake()or Ngoreng Lake or Eling Lake is a large freshwater lake in the Yellow River catchment, it is in the southeast of Qinghai Province.The name of lake means "Long Blue Lake" in Tibetan language. Ngoring Lake is 610.7 km 2, with a drainage area of 18,188 km 2, an elevation of 4268 m,...

 on the western edge of Golog Prefecture high in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in the far west of China. In the Zoige Basin along the boundary with Gansu Province, the Yellow River loops northwest and then northeast before turning south, creating the "Ordos Loop
Ordos Loop
The Ordos Loop is a region of China west of Beijing. The Yellow River flows north-northeast, then east, and then south forming three sides of an imperfect rectangle. The south side is formed by the Wei River which rises not far from the southwest corner and flows east to the southeast corner...

", and then flows generally eastward across northern China to the Gulf of Bohai
Bohai Sea
Bohai Sea , also known as Bohai Gulf, Bohai, or Bo Hai, is the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea on the coast of Northeastern and North China. It is approximately 78,000 km2 Bohai Sea , also known as Bohai Gulf, Bohai, or Bo Hai, is the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea on the coast of...

, draining a basin
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 of 752443 square kilometres (290,520 sq mi) which nourishes 140 million people with drinking water and irrigation.

The Yellow River passes through seven present-day provinces
Province (China)
A province, in the context of Chinese government, is a translation of sheng formally provincial level divisions, which is an administrative division. Provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions, and the special administrative regions, make up the four types of province of administrative division...

 and two autonomous regions
Autonomous regions of China
An autonomous region is a first-level administrative subdivision of People's Republic of China. Like Chinese provinces, an autonomous region has its own local government, but an autonomous region theoretically has more legislative rights. An Autonomous Region is a minority entity which has a...

, namely (from west to east) Qinghai
Qinghai
Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

, Gansu
Gansu
' is a province located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China.It lies between the Tibetan and Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east...

, Ningxia
Ningxia
Ningxia, formerly transliterated as Ningsia, is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. Located in Northwest China, on the Loess Plateau, the Yellow River flows through this vast area of land. The Great Wall of China runs along its northeastern boundary...

, Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

, Shaanxi
Shaanxi
' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

, Shanxi
Shanxi
' is a province in Northern China. Its one-character abbreviation is "晋" , after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn Period....

, Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

, and Shandong
Shandong
' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

. Major cities along the present course of the Yellow River include (from west to east) Lanzhou
Lanzhou
Lanzhou is the capital and largest city of Gansu Province in Northwest China. A prefecture-level city, it is a key regional transportation hub, allowing areas further west to maintain railroad connections to the eastern half of the country....

, Yinchuan, Wuhai
Wuhai
Wuhai is a prefecture-level city and regional center in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. It is located on the Huang He between the Gobi and Ordos deserts...

, Baotou
Baotou
Baotou is a mid-sized industrial city in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. Governed as a prefecture-level city, its urban areas are home to a population of approximately 1.78 million, with a total population of over 2.65 million accounting for counties under...

, Luoyang
Luoyang
Luoyang is a prefecture-level city in western Henan province of Central China. It borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast.Situated on the central plain of...

, Zhengzhou
Zhengzhou
Zhengzhou , is the capital and largest city of Henan province in north-central China. A prefecture-level city, it also serves as the political, economic, technological, and educational centre of the province, as well as a major transportation hub for Central China...

, Kaifeng
Kaifeng
Kaifeng , known previously by several names , is a prefecture-level city in east-central Henan province, Central China. Nearly 5 million people live in the metropolitan area...

, and Jinan
Jinan
Jinan is the capital of Shandong province in Eastern China. The area of present-day Jinan has played an important role in the history of the region from the earliest beginnings of civilisation and has evolved into a major national administrative, economic, and transportation hub...

. The current mouth of the Yellow River is located at Dongying
Dongying
Dongying is a prefecture-level city on the northern coast of Shandong province in Eastern China. Located around the mouth of the Yellow River, Dongying borders Binzhou to the west, Zibo to the southwest, and Weifang to the south...

, Shandong
Shandong
' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

.

The river is commonly divided into three stages. These are roughly the northeast 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...

, the Ordos Loop
Ordos Loop
The Ordos Loop is a region of China west of Beijing. The Yellow River flows north-northeast, then east, and then south forming three sides of an imperfect rectangle. The south side is formed by the Wei River which rises not far from the southwest corner and flows east to the southeast corner...

 and the North China Plain
North China Plain
The North China Plain is based on the deposits of the Yellow River and is the largest alluvial plain of eastern Asia. The plain is bordered on the north by the Yanshan Mountains and on the west by the Taihang Mountains edge of the Shanxi plateau. To the south, it merges into the Yangtze Plain...

. However, different scholars have different opinions on how the three stages are divided. This article adopts the division used by the Yellow River Conservancy Commission
Yellow River Conservancy Commission
Yellow River Conservancy Commission is a government agency of Ministry of Water Resources of the People's Republic of China. YRCC takes responsibility of water administration of the Yellow River basin and the inland river basins in such province as Xinjiang, Qinghai, Gansu and Inner Mongolia.-...

.

Upper reaches


The upper reaches of the Yellow River constitute a segment starting from its source in the Bayan Har Mountains and ending at Hekou Town (Togtoh County
Togtoh County
Togtoh County is a county in west-central Inner Mongolia, People's Republic of China, located on the north bank of the Yellow River at which point that great river turns out of the Ordos Loop toward the south. It is under the administration of the regional capital of Hohhot, to the northeast,...

) of Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

 just before it turns sharply to the south. This segment has a total length of 3472 kilometres (2,157 mi) and total basin area of 386000 square kilometres (149,035.4 sq mi), 51.4% of the total basin area. Along this length, the elevation of the Yellow River drops 3496 metres, with an average grade of 0.10%.

The source section flows mainly through pastures, swamps, and knolls between the Bayan Har Mountains
Bayan Har Mountains
The Bayan Har mountains are a mountain range in south-central part of Qinghai Province and the northwestern part of Sichuan Province in the People's Republic of China. It can be viewed as one of the branches of the Kunlun Mountains...

 (巴顏喀啦山脈), and the Anemaqen (Amne Machin
Amne Machin
Amne Machin is the highest peak of a mountain range named Amne Machin , or, in Chinese,Animaqing Shan in the province of Qinghai in west-central China.-Geography:...

) Mountains. The river water is clear and flows steadily. Crystal clear lakes are characteristic of this section. The two main lakes along this section are Lake Zhaling (扎陵湖) and Lake Eling (鄂陵湖), with capacities of 4.7 billion and 10.8 billion m³ (166 and 381 billion ft3), respectively. At elevations over 4290 metres (14,074.8 ft)) above sea level they are the largest two plateau freshwater lakes in China. A significant amount of land in the Yellow River's source area has been designated as the Sanjiangyuan ("'Three Rivers' Sources") 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...

, to protect the source region of the Yellow River, the Yangtze, and the Mekong
Mekong
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 , and it drains an area of , discharging of water annually....

.

The valley section stretches from Longyang Gorge in Qinghai
Qinghai
Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

 to Qingtong Gorge in Gansu
Gansu
' is a province located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China.It lies between the Tibetan and Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east...

. Steep cliffs line both sides of the river. The water bed is narrow and the average drop is large, so the flow in this section is extremely turbulent and fast. There are 20 gorges in this section, the most famous of these being the Longyang, Jishi, Liujia
Liujiaxia Dam
The Liujiaxia Dam is a major hydroelectric dam on the upper Yellow River, in Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture of China's Gansu Province. The dam and its hydroelectric facility are located in Liujia Gorge, or Liujiaxia , just downstream from the fall of the Tao River into the Yellow River...

, Bapan, and Qingtong
Qingtong
Qingtong is a township-level division of Lingshou County, Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China....

 gorges. The flow conditions in this section makes it the best location for hydroelectric
Hydroelectricity
Hydroelectricity is the term referring to electricity generated by hydropower; the production of electrical power through the use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. It is the most widely used form of renewable energy...

 plants.

After emerging from the Qingtong Gorge, the river comes into a section of vast alluvial plains, the Yinchuan Plain and Hetao Plain. In this section, the regions along the river are mostly deserts
Déserts
Déserts is a piece by Edgard Varèse for brass , percussion , piano, and tape. Percussion instruments are exploited for their resonant potential, rather than used solely as accompaniment...

 and grasslands, with very few tributaries. The flow is slow. The Hetao Plain has a length of 900 km (560 mi) and width of 30 to 50 km (20–30 mi). It is historically the most important irrigation plain along the Yellow River.

Middle reaches



The part of the Yellow River (see Ordos Loop
Ordos Loop
The Ordos Loop is a region of China west of Beijing. The Yellow River flows north-northeast, then east, and then south forming three sides of an imperfect rectangle. The south side is formed by the Wei River which rises not far from the southwest corner and flows east to the southeast corner...

) between Hekou Town (Togtoh County
Togtoh County
Togtoh County is a county in west-central Inner Mongolia, People's Republic of China, located on the north bank of the Yellow River at which point that great river turns out of the Ordos Loop toward the south. It is under the administration of the regional capital of Hohhot, to the northeast,...

), in Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

 and Zhengzhou
Zhengzhou
Zhengzhou , is the capital and largest city of Henan province in north-central China. A prefecture-level city, it also serves as the political, economic, technological, and educational centre of the province, as well as a major transportation hub for Central China...

 in Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

 constitutes the middle reaches of the river. The middle reaches are 1,206 km (749 mi) long, with a basin area of 344000 square kilometres (132,819.1 sq mi), 45.7% of the total, with a total elevation drop of 890 metres (2,919.9 ft), an average drop of 0.074%. There are 30 large tributaries along the middle reaches, and the water flow is increased by 43.5% on this stage. The middle reaches contribute 92% of the river's silts.

The middle stream of the Yellow River passes through the Loess Plateau
Loess Plateau
The Loess Plateau , also known as the Huangtu Plateau, is a plateau that covers an area of some 640,000 km² in the upper and middle reaches of China's Yellow River. Loess is the name for the silty sediment that has been deposited by wind storms on the plateau over the ages...

, where substantial erosion takes place. The large amount of mud and sand discharged into the river makes the Yellow River the most sediment
Sediment
Sediment is naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of fluids such as wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particle itself....

-laden river in the world. The highest recorded annual level of silts discharged into the Yellow River is 3.91 billion tons in 1933. The highest silt concentration level was recorded in 1977 at 920 kg/m³ (57.4 lb/ft3). These sediments later deposit in the slower lower reaches of the river, elevating the river bed and creating the famous "river above ground".

From Hekou County to Yumenkou, the river passes through the longest series of continuous valleys on its main course, collectively called the Jinshan Valley. The abundant hydrodynamic resources stored in this section make it the second most suitable area to build hydroelectric power plants. The famous Hukou Waterfall
Hukou Waterfall
The Hukou Waterfall , the largest waterfall on the Yellow River, China, the “second largest” waterfall in China , is located at the intersection of Shanxi Province and Shaanxi Province, to the west of Fenxi City, and to the east of Yichuan...

 is in the lower part of this valley.

Lower reaches


In the lower reaches, from Zhengzhou to the sea, a distance of 786 kilometres (488 mi), the river is confined to a levee
Levee
A levee, levée, dike , embankment, floodbank or stopbank is an elongated naturally occurring ridge or artificially constructed fill or wall, which regulates water levels...

-lined course as it flows to the northeast across the North China Plain
North China Plain
The North China Plain is based on the deposits of the Yellow River and is the largest alluvial plain of eastern Asia. The plain is bordered on the north by the Yanshan Mountains and on the west by the Taihang Mountains edge of the Shanxi plateau. To the south, it merges into the Yangtze Plain...

 before emptying into the Bohai Sea. The basin area in this stage is only 23000 square kilometres (8,880.3 sq mi), a mere 3% of the total, because few tributaries add to the flow in this stage; nearly all rivers to the south drain into the Huai River
Huai River
The Huai River is a major river in China. The Huai River is located about mid-way between the Yellow River and Yangtze River, the two largest rivers in China, and like them runs from west to east...

, whereas those to the north drain into the Hai River
Hai River
The Hai River , previously called Bai He , is a river in the People's Republic of China which flows through Beijing and Tianjin before emptying into the Yellow Sea at the Bohai Gulf.The Hai River at Tianjin is formed by the confluence of five rivers, the Southern Canal, Ziya...

. The total drop in elevation of the lower reaches is 93.6 metres (307 ft), with an average grade of 0.012%.

The silts received from the middle reaches form sediments here, elevating the river bed. During 2,000 years of levee construction, excessive sediment deposits have raised the riverbed several meters above the surrounding ground.

In Kaifeng
Kaifeng
Kaifeng , known previously by several names , is a prefecture-level city in east-central Henan province, Central China. Nearly 5 million people live in the metropolitan area...

, the Yellow River is 10 metres (33 ft) above the ground level.

Tributaries



Tributaries of the Yellow River include (upstream to downstream (?)
  • White River (白河)
  • Black River
    Black River
    Black River is a common name for streams and communities around the world, as well as the Spanish and Portuguese translation for Rio Negro.- Canada :* Black River * Black River...

    (黑河)
  • Star River (湟水)
  • Daxia River
    Daxia River
    The Daxia River is a tributary of the Yellow River in southern Gansu Province in China's far west.The Daxia River starts in the northern part of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, where its drainage basin covers large parts of Hezuo County-level City and Xiahe County...

     (大夏河)
  • Tao River
    Tao River
    Tao River is a right tributary of China's Yellow River. It starts in Xiqing Mountains near the Gansu-Qinghai border, flows eastward across Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, and then northward more or less along the border between Dingxi Prefecture-level City in the east and Gannan and Linxia...

     (洮河)
  • Zuli River (祖厉河/祖厲河)
  • Qingshui River (清水河)
  • Dahei River (大黑河)
  • Kuye River (窟野河)
  • Wuding River
    Wuding River
    The Wuding River begins in the Ordos Desert in Shaanxi Province, Inner Mongolia and flows south into loess canyons and farmland. After around 100 miles it flows into the great Yellow River. The Wuding has its own tributaries, such as the Dali River, Hailiutu River, Hanjiang River, and the...

     (无定河/無定河)
  • Fen River
    Fen River
    The Fen River drains the center of Shanxi Province, China. It rises in the Guancen Mountains of Ningwu County in northeast Shanxi, flows southeast into the basin of Taiyuan, and then south through the central valley of Shanxi before turning west to join the Yellow River west of Hejin. The Fen and...

     (汾河)
  • Wei River
    Wei River
    The Wei River is a major river in west-central China's Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. It is the largest tributary of the Yellow River and very important in the early development of Chinese civilization....

     (渭河)
  • Luo River
    Luo River (Henan)
    The Luo River is a tributary of the Yellow River in China. It rises in the southeast flank of Huashan in Shaanxi province and flows east into Henan province, where it eventually joins the Yellow River at the city of Gongyi...

     (洛河)
  • Qin River (沁河)
  • Dawen River (大汶河)
  • Kuo River 


The Wei River is the largest of these tributaries.

Hydroelectric power dams



Below is the list of hydroelectric power stations built on the Yellow River, arranged according to the year to start operation (in brackets):
  • Sanmenxia Dam
    Sanmenxia Dam
    The Sanmenxia Dam is a concrete gravity dam on the middle-reaches of the Yellow River near Sanmenxia on the border Shanxi and Henan Province, China. The dam is multi-purpose and was constructed for flood and ice control along with irrigation, hydroelectric power production and navigation....

     hydroelectric power station (1960)
  • Sanshenggong hydroelectric power station (1966)
  • Qingtong Gorge hydroelectric power station (1968) (Qingtongxia City, Ningxia
    Ningxia
    Ningxia, formerly transliterated as Ningsia, is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. Located in Northwest China, on the Loess Plateau, the Yellow River flows through this vast area of land. The Great Wall of China runs along its northeastern boundary...

    )
  • Liujiaxia Dam
    Liujiaxia Dam
    The Liujiaxia Dam is a major hydroelectric dam on the upper Yellow River, in Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture of China's Gansu Province. The dam and its hydroelectric facility are located in Liujia Gorge, or Liujiaxia , just downstream from the fall of the Tao River into the Yellow River...

     (Liujia Gorge)(1974) (Yongjing County, Gansu
    Gansu
    ' is a province located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China.It lies between the Tibetan and Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east...

    )
  • Lijiaxia Dam
    Lijiaxia Dam
    The Lijiaxia Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam on the Yellow River in Jainca County, Qinghai Province, China. The dam houses a hydroelectric power station with 5 x 400 MW generators for a total installed capacity of 2,000 MW. Construction began in April 1988 and the reservoir began to fill on...

     (1997) (Jainca County
    Jainca County
    Jainca County is the smallest administrative subdivision by area within Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province, China. The county has an area of 1714 square kilometers and a population of ~50,000 , 67% Tibetan...

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

    )
  • Yanguoxia Dam (Yanguo Gorge) hydroelectric power station (1975) (Yongjing County, Gansu
    Gansu
    ' is a province located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China.It lies between the Tibetan and Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east...

    )
  • Tianqiao hydroelectric power station (1977)
  • Bapanxia Dam (Bapan Gorge) (1980) (Xigu District
    Xigu District
    The Xigu District is an administrative district in Gansu, the People's Republic of China. It is one of 17 districts of Gansu. It is part of the Lanzhou prefecture, with the city of the same name being the prefecture seat.-Economy:...

    , Gansu)
  • Longyangxia Dam
    Longyangxia Dam
    The Longyangxia Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam at the entrance of the Longyangxia canyon on the Yellow River in Gonghe County, Qinghai Province, China. The dam is tall and was built for the purposes of hydroelectric power generation, irrigation, ice control and flood control...

      (1992) (Gonghe County
    Gonghe County
    Gonghe County is a county of Qinghai Province, China. It is under the administration of Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture....

    , Qinghai)
  • Da Gorge hydroelectric power station (1998)
  • Li Gorge hydroelectric power station (1999)
  • Wanjiazhai Dam
    Wanjiazhai Dam
    The Wanjiazhai Dam is a gravity dam on the Yellow River on the border of Pianguan County, Shaanxi Province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region , China. The main purpose of the dam is water supply for the Wanjiazhai Water Control Project along with peak hydroelectric power generation...

     (1999)
  • Xiaolangdi Dam
    Xiaolangdi Dam
    The Xiaolangdi Dam is a dam in Jiyuan, Henan Province, China, and impounds the Yellow River. The facility has a total installed capacity of and generates up to 5.1 TWh annually with the help of six turbines. The dam stands tall and wide, and cost US$3.5 billion to construct...

     (2001) (Jiyuan
    Jiyuan
    Jiyuan is a sub-prefecture-level city in northwestern Henan province of Central China. It borders the prefecture-level cities of Jiaozuo and Luoyang to the east and southwest respectively, as well as the province of Shanxi to the north.-Administration:...

    , Henan
    Henan
    Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

    )
  • Laxiwa Dam
    Laxiwa Dam
    The Laxiwa Dam is an arch dam on the Yellow River in Qinghai Province, northwest China. It is downstream of the Longyangxia Dam and upstream from the Lijiaxia Dam. The main purpose of the dam is hydroelectric power generation and it supports the largest station in the Yellow River basin...

     (2010) (Guide County
    Guide County
    Guide County is a county of Qinghai Province, China. It is under the administration of Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.-Economics:* Laxiwa Dam...

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

    )


As reported in 2000, the 7 largest hydro power plants (Longyangxia, Lijiaxia, Liujiaxia, Yanguoxia, Bapanxia, Daxia and Qinglongxia) had the total installed capacity of 5,618 MW.

Crossings



The main bridges and ferries by the province names in the order of downstream to upstream are:

Shandong
Shandong
' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

  • Shengli Yellow River Bridge
  • Binzhou Yellow River Highway Bridge
  • Sunkou Yellow River Highway Bridge
  • Zhongshan Bridge
  • Jinan Yellow River Bridge
    Jinan Yellow River Bridge
    The Jinan Yellow River Bridge , also known as the Jinan Yellow River Highway Bridge , is a cable-stayed road bridge across the Yellow River in the city of Jinan, ShandongProvince, China....

     

    Henan
    Henan
    Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

    • Kaifeng Yellow River Bridge (Kaifeng
      Kaifeng
      Kaifeng , known previously by several names , is a prefecture-level city in east-central Henan province, Central China. Nearly 5 million people live in the metropolitan area...

      )
    • Zhengzhou Yellow River Bridge (Zhengzhou
      Zhengzhou
      Zhengzhou , is the capital and largest city of Henan province in north-central China. A prefecture-level city, it also serves as the political, economic, technological, and educational centre of the province, as well as a major transportation hub for Central China...

      )


    Shanxi
    Shanxi
    ' is a province in Northern China. Its one-character abbreviation is "晋" , after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn Period....

     and Henan
    Henan
    Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

    • Sanmen Yellow River Bridge (Sanmenxia
      Sanmenxia
      -Administration:The prefecture-level city of Sanmenxia administers one district, two county-level cities and three counties.*Hubin District*Lingbao City*Yima City*Lushi County*Shan County*Mianchi County*Sanmenxia Development Zone...

      )


    Shaanxi
    Shaanxi
    ' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

     and Henan
    Henan
    Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

    • Hancheng Yumenkou Yellow River Bridge


    Ningxia
    Ningxia
    Ningxia, formerly transliterated as Ningsia, is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. Located in Northwest China, on the Loess Plateau, the Yellow River flows through this vast area of land. The Great Wall of China runs along its northeastern boundary...

    • Yinchuan Yellow River Bridge (Yinchuan)


    Inner Mongolia
    Inner Mongolia
    Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

    • Baotou Yellow River Bridge (Baotou
      Baotou
      Baotou is a mid-sized industrial city in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. Governed as a prefecture-level city, its urban areas are home to a population of approximately 1.78 million, with a total population of over 2.65 million accounting for counties under...

      )


    Gansu
    Gansu
    ' is a province located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China.It lies between the Tibetan and Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east...

    • Lanzhou Yellow River Bridge (Lanzhou
      Lanzhou
      Lanzhou is the capital and largest city of Gansu Province in Northwest China. A prefecture-level city, it is a key regional transportation hub, allowing areas further west to maintain railroad connections to the eastern half of the country....

      )
    • Lanzhou Zhongshan Bridge (Lanzhou)


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

    • Dari Yellow River Bridge (Dari)
    • Zalinghu crossing

    Pollution


    On 25 November 2008, Tania Branigan of The Guardian
    The Guardian
    The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

    filed a report "China's Mother River: the Yellow River", claiming that severe pollution has made one-third of China's Yellow River unusable even for agricultural or industrial use, due to factory discharges and sewage from fast-expanding cities. The Yellow River Conservancy Commission
    Yellow River Conservancy Commission
    Yellow River Conservancy Commission is a government agency of Ministry of Water Resources of the People's Republic of China. YRCC takes responsibility of water administration of the Yellow River basin and the inland river basins in such province as Xinjiang, Qinghai, Gansu and Inner Mongolia.-...

     had surveyed more than 8384 miles (13,492.7 km) of the river in 2007 and said 33.8% of the river system registered worse than "level five" according the criteria used by the UN Environmental Program. Level five is unfit for drinking, aquaculture, industrial use, or even agriculture. The report said waste and sewage discharged into the system last year totaled 4.29b tons. Industry and manufacturing made up 70% of the discharge into the river with households accounting for 23% and just over 6% coming from other sources.

    Yellow River in culture


    The provinces of Hebei
    Hebei
    ' is a province of the People's Republic of China in the North China region. Its one-character abbreviation is "" , named after Ji Province, a Han Dynasty province that included what is now southern Hebei...

     and Henan
    Henan
    Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

     derive their names from the Yellow River. Their names mean, respectively, "North of the River" and "South of the River".

    Mother river, China's Sorrow.
    Traditionally, it is believed that the Chinese civilization originated in the Yellow River basin. The Chinese refer to the river as "the Mother River" and "the cradle of the Chinese civilization".
    During the long history of China
    History of China
    Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the Cradle of Chinese Civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest...

    , the Yellow River has been considered a blessing as well as a curse and has been nickname
    Nickname
    A nickname is "a usually familiar or humorous but sometimes pointed or cruel name given to a person or place, as a supposedly appropriate replacement for or addition to the proper name.", or a name similar in origin and pronunciation from the original name....

    d both "China's Pride" and "China's Sorrow" .

    When the Yellow River flows clear.
    Sometimes the Yellow River is poetically called the "Muddy Flow" . The Chinese idiom "when the Yellow River flows clear" is used to refer to an event that will never happen and is similar to the English expression "when pigs fly".

    "The Yellow River running clear" was reported as a good omen during the reign of the Yongle Emperor
    Yongle Emperor
    The Yongle Emperor , born Zhu Di , was the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China from 1402 to 1424. His Chinese era name Yongle means "Perpetual Happiness".He was the Prince of Yan , possessing a heavy military base in Beiping...

    , along with the appearance of such auspicious legendary beasts as qilin
    Qilin
    The Qilin is a mythical hooved Chinese chimerical creature known throughout various East Asian cultures, and is said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a wise sage or an illustrious ruler. It is a good omen that brings rui . It is often depicted with what looks like fire all over...

    (an African giraffe
    Giraffe
    The giraffe is an African even-toed ungulate mammal, the tallest of all extant land-living animal species, and the largest ruminant...

     brought to China by a Bengal
    Bengal
    Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

     embassy aboard Zheng He
    Zheng He
    Zheng He , also known as Ma Sanbao and Hajji Mahmud Shamsuddin was a Hui-Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral, who commanded voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa, collectively referred to as the Voyages of Zheng He or Voyages of Cheng Ho from...

    's ships in 1414) and zouyu
    Zouyu
    Zouyu is a legendary creature mentioned in old Chinese literature. The earliest known appearance of the characters 騶虞 is in the Book of Songs, but J.J.L...

    (not positively identified) and other strange natural phenomena.

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