Rivers of China

##There are about 50,000 rivers each with basin area larger than 100 km2 in China. Among them more than 1500 rivers are with basin area larger than 1000 km2, Most rivers are distributed over the eastern and southern parts of China. In the northwestern part of China due to arid climate and scarcity of precipitation only few rivers exist accompanied with some streamless areas of considerable scope. The total basin area of the river outflowing into the sea accounts for 2/3 of the total area of Chinese territory, and the remaining 1/3 is the inland river basin area.

##The majority of rivers in China are fed by rainfall, some are fed by snow melt in spring and rainfall in summer and autumn. In addition, there are some rivers partly fed by glacier melting water.

##According to the length of rivers, the length of the Yangtze river is the longest in China accounting to 6300 km. Among world large rivers, the Yangtze river is next in length only to the Nile river in Africa (6648 km) and the amazon river in south America (6500 km), being the third longest in the world. According to the river basin area, the Yangtze rivers also the largest in China, but only ranks the 12th among the world large rivers. The yellow river is the third largest in basin area in China, but ranks the 23rd in the world. The part of Heilong river within the territory of China is the second largest in basin area. As to the annual stream flow, the Yangtze river still ranks the first in China, but the third in the World. The Pearl river ranks the second in China, but the 15th in the world .The Yellow river ranks the fifth in China, but the 24th in the world.

##In China the rivers in the mountainous areas often flow through gorges and stretches of flat land alternatively, with many sharp turns and narrow passages. The upper stretches of the Yellow river and the Three Gorges stretch of the Yangtze river are therefore well known. In plain areas the patterns of river may be classified as smooth and straight pattern, but the main current always winding; meandering pattern, as the Jingjiang stretch of the Yangtze river and the lower reaches of the Hanjiang river; branched pattern, as the river stretch of Yangtze from Chenglingji to Jiangyin, the total length of this stretch is 1120 km, but there are 41 branched stretches total 817 km; wandering pattern, as the river stretch of Huayuankou of the Yellow river and the stretch from Lugouqiao to Lianggezhuang in the lower reaches of the Yongding river.Most of the rivers in North China freeze over in winter. To the south of the Huaihe river and to the north of the Yangtze river there are sludge ice in the river in winter, but generally not frozen over. To the south of the Yangtze river there are basically no ice phenomena.
(from Water Resources Development in China)

China¡¯s Major Rivers


Length (km)

(sq km)


Regions Involved





Geladaindong, main peak of th Tanggula Mountains

Qinhai, Tibet. Yunnan, Sichuan, Hubie, Hunan, Jiangxi, anhui, Jiangsu, Shanghai

East China sea

The Yellow River



Yoigilangleb LU, Mount Yagradagze, the Bayan Har Mountains

Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Henan, Shandong

Bohai Sea




Western slope of th eGreater Hinggan Mountains

Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang

Sea of Okhotsk




Maxiong Mountain, Zhanyi County, Yunnan Province

Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Guangdiong

South China Sea




Ganguori Peak, the tanggula Mountains

Qinghai, Tibet


South China Sea

Yarlung Zangbo



Gangdise Mountains


Bay of Bengal




Southern foothills of th eTanggula Mountains

Tibet, Yunnan

Bay of Bengal




Western source in Baicha Mountains, Liaoning, and eastern source in Sahe Mountains, Jilin

Liaoning, Jilin

Bohai sea




Taihang Mountains

Henan, Hebei, Tianjin

Boahi Sea




Tongbo Mountains, Henan

Henan, Anhui, Jiangsu, Shandong

Yellow Sea


*The stated length is up to its confluence with the Wusuli River.
The river¡¯s basin inside China is 254,798 square kilometers.
**It includes the Hunhe and Taizi Rivers.


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