Mekong River

Mekong River is one of the longest in the world. Mekong River takes its source in China and flows through Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Mekong delta in Vietnam before throwing into the Orient Sea of Vietnam.

Mekong River is the twelfth river in the world (7th in Asia) in length, the tenth in rate of flow (the annual is about 475 million m³). The average flow accounts for 13 200 m³ / s but can be up to 30,000 m³ / s during flood season. Its basin is approximately 795 000 km square according to the Mekong River Commission or more than 810,000 km² (according to British Encyclopedia in 2004).

Mekong River

Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam are members of the Mekong River Commission, except for China. Except in Vietnam, transport on the Mekong is generally difficult because the flow is seasonally changed with the sections having highest waterfalls or strong currents. A small part of the river is used for irrigation and hydroelectric power. But the speed and rhythm of the water bring back many benefits to rice cultivation as in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

The most characteristic point of the Mekong River hydropower is the role to settle the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia - the largest natural lake in Southeast Asia known as: Lake of the Sea.

Mekong River – General description:

Tibetan people believe that the upstream of Mekong River is divided into two branches: the north - west branch and the north branch. North - west branch of 87.75 km long is better known.

The north branch starts from Guosongmucha Mountains at 5224 m high, including two tributaries of 91.12 km and 89.76 km long. After several explorations, researchers concluded that the main source of Mekong upstream is the north branch with length between of 4200km and 4850km.

Almost half of the Mekong River’s length flows in China where Tibetan people call Dza Chu and generally known as Lan Jiang in Chinese meaning '’Agitated River '’. The Dza Chu meets another tributary named Ang Qū to create Lan Chiang Ts'ang River which has many deep canyons. Lan Chiang Ts'ang leaves China at an altitude of about 500 meters over the sea level.

Then the Mekong River separates Myanmar and Laos with about 20 km long which is also the border between two countries. At the end of the border, the river converges with the Ruak tributary at the Golden Triangle where the Mekong divides into two parts: Upper Mekong and Lower Mekong.

Mekong River is the border between Laos and Thailand before flowing into Laos. It is called Menam Khong by Laotian and by Thais people: Menam means "river". With the exception of a tributary from Dien Bien Phu: Pa Thom river formed by the Nam Lua and Nam Rom Rivers to converge Mekong River in Ban Chum, Mekong in Laos is characterized by deep canyons, chasms... It widens in south of Luang Prabang up to 4 km wide and 100 meters deep, although its flow is still very contradictory.

Mekong River continues to be the border between Laos and Thailand through Vientiane. Here, the main tributary from Thailand: Menam Mun of 750 km long throws in it. This area includes the Si Phan Don region (Four Thousand Islands) above the Khone waterfall of 15 km long and 18 meters high near the Cambodian border. This waterfall is impassable for navigation.

In Cambodia, the Mekong River is called '' Mekong River ‘' or Tonle Thom (Great River). The part above Kratie is the last obstacle to river traffic. Above Phnom Penh, Mekong River intersects with the Tonle Sap which is the main branch in Cambodia. In flood season, the water of the Mekong River flows into the Tonle Sap. Two other important tributaries are the Se San and Serepok Rivers (from the highlands of Vietnam) flowing to the Mekong at Stung treng in Cambdge.

From Phnom Penh, Mekong River divides into two branches: Bassac River (called Tien Giang in Vietnam) and Mekong River (Hau Giang River in Vietnam). Each branch of 220-250 km long, crosses the vast delta in south of Vietnam called Mekong Delta. In Vietnam, Mekong is called Great River, Mother River or Cuu Long River (Nine Dragons River).

Mekong River’s history: 

The first known civilization is the Malai Indianised culture in the first century of the Phu Nam Kingdom in the Mekong basin. In Oc Eo excavation near Rach Gia of Vietnam currently, there are coins of the Roman Empire.

Phu Nam Kingdom was followed by Chan La in 6th century of Khmer people which was continued by the Khmer Empire. When the Khmer Empire was weakening, Mekong River became the border of kingdoms hostile to each other.

The first European explorer is the Portuguese: Antonio de Faria in 1540 followed by the Dutch with the goal of evangelism of Catholicism and commerce. The French people were interested in the Mekong River from the mid-19th century, after occupying Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam in 1861 and imposing protectorate in Cambodia in 1863 under the reign of King Norodom Sihanouk.

Ernest Doudard de Lagrée and Francis Garnier started the first exploration from 1866 to 1868. Since 1893, the French people extended their control of Mekong River until Laos. After the successive wars, Mekong River Commission was created including Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam as members to exploit together this entire famous river.

Main problems of Mekong River: 

The major problem causing conflict between countries is the construction of dams. A series of dams were built on the tributaries of the Mekong River, including the Pak Mun dam in Thailand which was accused violently because of the high cost and negative impact on the environment and on people's lives.

Today, the Chinese people are trying to build dams on the Mekong River: Manwan, Dai Trieu So, Jinghong, Xiaowan and a dozen others are under investigation. The fear is that these dams prevent the movement of sediment and cause enormous damages to agriculture and fish growth in downstream where the life of hundreds of millions of inhabitants will bear significant bad influences.

Rich fauna in danger: 

WWF says that the unique animals in this river are rapidly disappearing as: Several species of catfish, giant carp, and salmon ... The disappearance of these species is the first warning of overfishing or other disturbances in the environment of Mekong River.