Yellow River

The Yellow River or Huang He (listen ) is the second longest river in China, after the Yangtze River, and the sixth longest river system in the world at the estimated length of 5,464 km (3,395 mi).[1] Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai province of Western China, it flows through nine provinces, and it empties into the Bohai Sea near the city of Dongying in Shandong province. The Yellow River basin has an east–west extent of about 1,900 kilometers (1,180 mi) and a north–south extent of about 1,100 km (680 mi). Its total drainage area is about 752,546 square kilometers (290,560 sq mi).

Its basin was the birthplace of ancient Chinese civilization, and it was the most prosperous region in early Chinese history. There are frequent devastating floods and course changes produced by the continual elevation of the river bed, sometimes above the level of its surrounding farm fields.

Name

Early Chinese literature including the Yu Gong or Tribute of Yu dating to the Warring States period (475–221 BC) refers to the Yellow River as simply (Old Chinese: *C.gˤaj,[2] modern Chinese (Pinyin) ), a character that has come to mean "river" in modern usage. The first appearance of the name 黃河 (Old Chinese: *N-kʷˤaŋ C.gˤaj; Middle Chinese: Huang Ha[2]) is in the Book of Han written during the Eastern Han dynasty about the Western Han dynasty. The adjective "yellow" describes the perennial color of the muddy water in the lower course of the river, which arises from soil (loess) being carried downstream.

One of its older Mongolian names was the "Black River",[3] because the river runs clear before it enters the Loess Plateau, but the current name of the river among Inner Mongolians is Ȟatan Gol (Хатан гол, "Queen River").[4] In Mongolia itself, it is simply called the Šar Mörön (Шар мөрөн, "Yellow River").[5]

In Qinghai, the river's Tibetan name is "River of the Peacock" (Tibetan: རྨཆུ, Wylie: rma.chu, THL: Ma Chu; simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Mǎ Qū)

History

Dynamics

Ma Yuan - Water Album - The Yellow River Breaches its Course
The Yellow River Breaches its Course by Ma Yuan (1160–1225), Song Dynasty

The Yellow River is one of several rivers that are essential for China's existence. At the same time, however, it has been responsible for several deadly floods, including the only natural disasters in recorded history to have killed more than a million people. The deadliest was a Yuan dynasty 1332–33 flood that killed 7 million people. Close behind during the Qing dynasty is the 1887 flood, which killed anywhere from 900,000 to 2 million people, and a Republic of China era 1931 flood (part of a massive number of floods that year) that killed 1–4 million people.[6]

The cause of the floods is the large amount of fine-grained loess carried by the river from the Loess Plateau, which is continuously deposited along the bottom of its channel. The sedimentation causes natural dams to slowly accumulate. These subaqueous dams were unpredictable and generally undetectable. Eventually, the enormous amount of water has to find a new way to the sea, forcing it to take the path of least resistance. When this happens, it bursts out across the flat North China Plain, sometimes taking a new channel and inundating any farmland, cities or towns in its path. The traditional Chinese response of building higher and higher levees 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. These changes could cause the river's mouth to shift as much as 480 km (300 mi), sometimes reaching the ocean to the north of Shandong Peninsula and sometimes to the south.[7]

Another historical source of devastating floods is the collapse of upstream ice dams in Inner Mongolia 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.[8]

Before modern dams came to China, the Yellow River used to be extremely prone to flooding. In the 2,540 years from 595 BC to 1946 AD, the Yellow River has been reckoned to have flooded 1,593 times, shifting its course 26 times noticeably and nine times severely.[9] 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.[10]

Ancient times

Yellow River, Qing Dynasty
The Yellow River as depicted in a Qing dynasty illustrated map (sections)
Yellow River watercourse changes en
Historical courses of the Yellow River

In Chinese mythology, the giant Kua Fu drained the Yellow River and the Wei River to quench his burning thirst as he pursued the Sun.[11] Historical documents from the Spring and Autumn period[12] and Qin dynasty[13] indicate that the Yellow River at that time flowed considerably north of its present course. These accounts show that after the river passed Luoyang, it flowed along the border between Shanxi and Henan Provinces, then continued along the border between Hebei and Shandong before emptying into Bohai Bay near present-day Tianjin. Another outlet followed essentially the present course.[9]

The river left these paths in 602 BC[12] and shifted completely south of the Shandong Peninsula.[9] Sabotage of dikes, canals, and reservoirs and deliberate flooding of rival states became a standard military tactic during the Warring States period.[14] As the Yellow River valley was the major entryway to the Guanzhong area and the state of Qin from the North China Plain, Qin heavily fortified the Hangu Pass; it saw numerous battles and was also an important chokepoint protecting the Han capitals of Chang'an and Luoyang. Major flooding in AD 11 is credited with the downfall of the short-lived Xin dynasty, and another flood in AD 70 returned the river north of Shandong on essentially its present course.[9]

Medieval times

From around the beginning of the 3rd century, the importance of the Hangu Pass was reduced, with the major fortifications and military bases moved upriver to Tongguan. In AD 923, the desperate Later Liang general Duan Ning again broke the dikes, flooding 1,000 square miles (2,600 km2) in a failed attempt to protect his realm's capital from the Later Tang. A similar proposal from the Song engineer Li Chun concerning flooding the lower reaches of the river to protect the central plains from the Khitai was overruled in 1020: the Chanyuan Treaty between the two states had expressly forbidden the Song from establishing new moats or changing river courses.[15]

Breaches occurred regardless: one at Henglong in 1034 divided the course in three and repeatedly flooded the northern regions of Dezhou and Bozhou.[15] The Song worked for five years futilely attempting to restore the previous course – using over 35,000 employees, 100,000 conscripts, and 220,000 tons of wood and bamboo in a single year[15] – before abandoning the project in 1041. The more sluggish river then occasioned a breach at Shanghu that sent the main outlet north towards Tianjin in 1048[9]

In 1128, the Song troops breached the southern dikes of the Yellow River in an effort to stop the advancing Jin army. The resulting major river avulsion allowed the Yellow to capture the tributaries of the Huai River.[16] For the first time in recorded history, the Yellow River shifted completely south of Shandong Peninsula and flowed into the Yellow Sea. By 1194, the mouth of the Huai River had been blocked.[17] The buildup of silt deposits was such that even after the Yellow River later shifted its course, the Huai could no longer flow along its historic course, but instead, its water pools into Hongze Lake and then runs southward toward the Yangtze River.[18]

A flood in 1344 returned the Yellow River south of Shandong. The Yuan dynasty was waning, and the emperor forced enormous teams to build new embankments for the river. The terrible conditions helped to fuel rebellions that led to the founding of the Ming dynasty.[7] The course changed again in 1391 when the river flooded from Kaifeng to Fengyang in Anhui. It was finally stabilized by the eunuch Li Xing during the public works projects following the 1494 flood.[19] The river flooded many times in the 16th century, including in 1526, 1534, 1558, and 1587. Each flood affected the river's lower course.[19]

The 1642 flood was man-made, caused by the attempt of the Ming governor of Kaifeng to use the river to destroy the peasant rebels under Li Zicheng who had been besieging the city for the past six months.[20] 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.[21] The once-prosperous city was nearly abandoned until its rebuilding under the Kangxi Emperor in the Qing dynasty.

Recent times

1938 June Yellow River
The Chinese Nationalist Army soldiers during the 1938 Yellow River flood.

Between 1851 and 1855,[9][17][19] it returned to the north amid the floods that provoked the Nien and Taiping Rebellions. The 1887 flood has been estimated to have killed between 900,000 and 2 million people,[22] and is the second-worst natural disaster in history (excluding famines and epidemics). The Yellow River more or less adopted its present course during the 1897 flood.[17][23]

The 1931 flood killed an estimated 1,000,000 to 4,000,000,[22] and is the worst natural disaster recorded (excluding famines and epidemics).

On 9 June 1938, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Nationalist troops under Chiang Kai-shek broke the levees holding back the river near the village of Huayuankou in Henan, causing what has been called by Canadian historian, Diana Lary, 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 of an area covering 54,000 km2 (20,800 sq mi) 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 Zhengzhou, on the southern bank of the Yellow River, but did not stop them from reaching their goal of capturing Wuhan, which was the temporary seat of the Chinese government and straddles the Yangtze River.[24]

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 near the eastern edge of the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. The source tributaries drain into Gyaring Lake and Ngoring Lake on the western edge of Golog Prefecture high in the Bayan Har Mountains of Qinghai. In the Zoige Basin along the boundary with Gansu, the Yellow River loops northwest and then northeast before turning south, creating the "Ordos Loop", and then flows generally eastward across the North China Plain to the Gulf of Bohai, draining a basin of 752,443 square kilometers (290,520 sq mi) which nourishes 140 million people with drinking water and irrigation.[25]

The Yellow River passes through seven present-day provinces and two autonomous regions, namely (from west to east) Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan, and Shandong. Major cities along the present course of the Yellow River include (from west to east) Lanzhou, Yinchuan, Wuhai, Baotou, Luoyang, Zhengzhou, Kaifeng, and Jinan. The current mouth of the Yellow River is located at Kenli County, Shandong.

The river is commonly divided into three stages. These are roughly the northeast of the Tibetan Plateau, the Ordos Loop, and the North China 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.[26]

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), Inner Mongolia just before it turns sharply to the south. This segment has a total length of 3,472 kilometers (2,157 mi) and total basin area of 386,000 square kilometers (149,000 sq mi), 51.4% of the total basin area. Along this length, the elevation of the Yellow River drops 3,496 meters (11,470 ft), with an average grade of 0.10%.

The source section flows mainly through pastures, swamps, and knolls between the Bayan Har Mountains, and the Anemaqen (Amne Machin) Mountains in Qinghai. 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 4,290 m (14,070 ft)) above sea level they are the two largest plateau freshwater lakes nationwide. A significant amount of land in the Yellow River's source area has been designated as the Sanjiangyuan ("'Three Rivers' Sources") National Nature Reserve, to protect the source region of the Yellow River, the Yangtze, and the Mekong.

Flowing east at the eastern edge of the Amne Machin Mountains, the Yellow River enters Maqu County in Gansu. Here, the river skirts through the high-altitude peat bog known as the Zoigê Wetlands and makes a sharp turn towards the northwest forming the border between Maqu and Zoigê County in Sichuan. Flowing now along the northern edge of Amne Machin, the river reenters Qinghai and gradually curves north towards the Longyang Gorge at Xinghai.

The valley section stretches from Longyang Gorge in Qinghai to Qingtong Gorge in Gansu. 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, Bapan, and Qingtong gorges. The flow conditions in this section makes it the best location for hydroelectric plants. The Yellow River exits Qinghai for the second and final time in these gorges and enters Gansu for the second time just before Liujia Gorge. Downstream from the Yanguo Gorge, the provincial capital of Lanzhou is built upon the Yellow River's banks. The Yellow River flows northeasterly out of Gansu and into Ningxia before the Qingtong Gorge.

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 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 (19 to 31 mi). It is historically the most important irrigation plain along the Yellow River.

Middle reaches

Qiankun Bend
Qiankun bend in Yonghe County

The Ordos Loop formed by an enormous twist of the Yellow River, beginning at Zhongning County in Ningxia and ending with a drastic eastward turn at its confluence with the Wei at Tongguan in Shaanxi. However, the official division for the middle reaches of the river run from Hekou in Togtoh County, Inner Mongolia, to Zhengzhou, Henan. The middle reaches are 1,206 km (749 mi) long, with a basin area of 344,000 square kilometers (133,000 sq mi), 45.7% of the total, with a total elevation drop of 890 m (2,920 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, where substantial erosion takes place. The large amount of mud and sand discharged into the river makes the Yellow River the most sediment-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 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 is in the lower part of this valley on the border of Shanxi and Shaanxi.

Lower reaches

In the lower reaches, from Zhengzhou, Henan to its mouth, a distance of 786 km (488 mi), the river is confined to a levee-lined course as it flows to the northeast across the North China Plain before emptying into the Bohai Sea. The basin area in this stage is only 23,000 square kilometers (8,900 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, whereas those to the north drain into the Hai River. The Huai River Basin, for example, is separated from the Yellow River Basin by the south dike of the Yellow River.[27] The total drop in elevation of the lower reaches is 93.6 m (307 ft), with an average grade of 0.012%.

The silts received from the middle reaches form sediments here, elevating the river bed. Excessive sediment deposits have raised the riverbed several meters above the surrounding ground. At Kaifeng, Henan, the Yellow River is 10 meters (33 ft) above the ground level.[28]

Tributaries

5922-Daxia-River-fall-into-Liujiaxia-Reservoir
The mouth of the Daxia River (coming from bottom right), flowing into the Yellow River's Liujiaxia Reservoir in Linxia Prefecture, Gansu

Tributaries of the Yellow River listed from its source to its mouth include:

Characteristics

Yellow River Delta Animation
Expansion of the Yellow River Delta from 1989 to 2009 in five year intervals.

The Yellow River is notable for the large amount of silt it carries—1.6 billion tons annually at the point where it descends from the Loess Plateau. 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.[9]

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, 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.[25] 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.[29]

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 involves several schemes to divert water from the Yangtze River: one in the western headwaters of the rivers where they are closest to one another, another from the upper reaches of the Han River, and a third using the route of the old Grand Canal.

Due to its heavy load of silt the Yellow River is a depositing stream – that 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 levees in its lower reaches. Should a flood occur, the river may break out of the levees into the surrounding lower flood plain and take a new channel. Historically this has occurred about once every hundred years. In modern times, considerable effort has been made to strengthen levees and control floods.

Hydroelectric power dams

Below is the list of hydroelectric power stations built on the Yellow River, arranged according to the first year of operation (in brackets):

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.[30]

Crossings

Major cities along the Yellow River
Major cities along the Yellow River
Yellow river pontoon bridge jinan 2008 05
Pontoon bridge (Luokou Pontoon Bridge simplified Chinese: 洛口浮桥; traditional Chinese: 洛口浮橋; pinyin: Luòkŏu Fúqiáo) over the Yellow River in Jinan, Shandong

The main bridges and ferries by the province names in the order of downstream to upstream are:[31][32][33]

Shandong

  • Dongying Yellow River Bridge
  • Shengli Yellow River Bridge (Dongying)
  • Lijin Yellow River Bridge (Dongying)
  • Binzhou Yellow River Road-Railway Bridge
  • Binzhou Yellow River Highway Bridge
  • Binzhou–Laiwu Expressway Binzhou Yellow River Bridge (BinzhouZibo)
  • Huiqing Yellow River Bridge (Binzhou–Zibo)
  • Jiyang Yellow River Bridge (Jinan)
  • G20 Qingdao–Yinchuan Expressway Jinan Yellow River Bridge (Jinan)
  • Jinan Yellow River Bridge
  • Luokou Yellow River Railway Bridge (Jinan)
  • Jinan Jianbang Yellow River Bridge
  • Beijing–Shanghai High-speed Railway Jinan Yellow River Bridge (Jinan–Dezhou)
  • Beijing–Taipei Expressway Jinan Yellow River Bridge (Jinan–Dezhou)
  • Beijing–Shanghai Railway Jinan Yellow River New Bridge (Jinan–Dezhou)
  • Pingyin Yellow River Bridge (Jinan-Liaocheng)

Shandong–Henan

  • Beijing–Kowloon Railway Sunkou Yellow River Bridge (JiningPuyang)
  • Juancheng Yellow River Highway Bridge (Heze–Puyang)
  • Dongming Yellow River Highway Bridge (Heze–Puyang)

Henan

Shanxi–Henan

Shaanxi–Henan

  • Hancheng Yumenkou Yellow River Bridge

Ningxia

Inner Mongolia

  • Baotou Yellow River Bridge (Baotou)

Gansu

Qinghai

  • Dari Yellow River Bridge

Fauna

Fish

DV Paradise fish male 03
The paradise fish is well-known in the aquarium hobby and it originates from East Asian river basins, including the Yellow River

The Yellow River basin is rich in fish, [34] being the home of more than 160 native species in 92 genera and 28 families, including 19 species found nowhere else in the world (endemic).[35] However, due to habitat loss, pollution, introduced species and overfishing many of the natives have declined or disappeared entirely; several are recognized as threatened on China's Red List.[35][36] Dams and their reservoirs have increased the habitat for species of slow-moving and static waters, while it excluded species of flowing waters and prevented the up- and down-stream breeding migration of others.[35][36] In the 2000s, only 80 native fish in 63 genera and 18 families were recorded in the Yellow River basin.[35] In contrast, introduced fish have risen in both abundance and number of species; only one introduced fish species was recorded in the 1960s, but by the 2000s there were 26.[35]

As typical of Asian rivers, Cyprinidae is by far the most diverse family in the Yellow River basin. Of all the species known from this basin—whether only recorded in the past or still present—more than 85 are cyprinids. Other highly diverse families are the stone loaches (more than 20 species), gobies (c. 15 species), true loaches (c. 10 species) and bagrid catfish (c. 10 species).[35] Although there are species found throughout much of the river, several have a more restricted range. For example, the uppermost, highest parts on the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau has relatively few native species, notably snowtrout and allies (Gymnocypris, Gymnodiptychus, Platypharodon and Schizopygopsis), and Triplophysa loaches.[37] Of the 18 endemics in the Yellow River basin, 12 are (or were) found in the upper part.[35] These in particular have become threatened and the fish fauna in many headwaters are now dominated by introduced salmonids.[35][37] In contrast, the lowermost part of the river and its delta are home to many brackish water or euryhaline species, like gobies (although there are also true freshwater gobies in the Yellow River), Asian seabasses, flatfish and Takifugu pufferfish.[35]

Fishing remains an important activity, but catches have declined. In 2007, it was noted that 40% fewer fish were caught in the Yellow River compared to earlier catches.[36] Large cyprinids (Asian carp, predatory carp, Wuchang bream and Mongolian redfin) and large catfish (Amur and Lanzhou catfish) are still present, but the largest species, the Chinese paddlefish, kaluga sturgeon and Yangtze sturgeon, have not been reported from the Yellow River basin in about 50 years.[35] Other species that support important fisheries include white Amur bream, ayu, mandarin fish, Protosalanx icefish, northern snakehead, Asian swamp eel and others.[35]

Aquaculture

Chinemys reevesii 02
The Chinese pond turtle (shown) and Chinese softshell turtle are both native to the Yellow River, but also farmed in large numbers

The Yellow River is generally less suitable for aquaculture than the rivers of central and southern China, such as the Yangtze or the Pearl River, but aquaculture is also practiced in some areas along the Yellow River. An important aquaculture area is the riverside plain in Xingyang City, upstream from Zhengzhou. Since the development of fish ponds started in Xingyang's riverside Wangcun Town in 1986, the pond systems in Wangcun have grown to the total size of 15,000 mu (10 km2), making the town the largest aquaculture center in North China.[38]

Two turtle species are native to the Yellow River basin: the Chinese pond turtle and Chinese softshell turtle.[39] Both species—but especially the softshell—are widely farmed for food.[40] A variety of the Chinese softshell turtle popular in Chinese gourmets is called the Yellow River Turtle (黄河鳖). Nowadays most of the Yellow River Turtles eaten in China's restaurants comes from turtle farms, which may or may not be near the Yellow River. In 2007, construction started in Wangcun, Henan on a large farm for raising this turtle variety. With the capacity for raising 5 million turtles a year, the facility was expected to become Henan's largest farm of this kind.[41]

The huge, entirely aquatic Chinese giant salamander, a species that has declined drastically due primarily to persecution for food and traditional medicine, is native to the Yellow River and other Chinese rivers. It is farmed in large numbers in several parts of China and genetic studies have revealed that the captive stock mostly is of Yellow River origin. As these often are released back into the wild, the Yellow River type of the Chinese giant salamander has spread to other parts of China, which represents a problem to the other types.[42]

Pollution

On 25 November 2008, Tania Branigan of The Guardian 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.[43] The Yellow River Conservancy Commission had surveyed more than 8,384 mi (13,493 km) of the river in 2007 and said 33.8% of the river system registered worse than "level five" according to the criteria used by the UN Environment 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.

In culture

Qikou
Qikou town along Yellow River in Shanxi Province

In ancient times, it was believed that the Yellow River flowed from Heaven as a continuation of the Milky Way. In a Chinese legend, Zhang Qian is said to have been commissioned to find the source of the Yellow River. After sailing up-river for many days, he saw a girl spinning and a cow herd. Upon asking the girl where he was, she presented him with her shuttle with instructions to show it to the astrologer Yen Chün-p'ing. When he returned, the astrologer recognized it as the shuttle of the Weaving Girl (Vega), and, moreover, said that at the time Zhang received the shuttle, he had seen a wandering star interpose itself between the Weaving Girl and the cow herd (Altair).[44]

The provinces of Hebei and 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, and cradle of Chinese civilization.

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, the Yellow River has been considered a blessing as well as a curse and has been nicknamed both "China's Pride" and "China's Sorrow"[45].

When the Yellow River flows clear.

Sometimes the Yellow River is poetically called the "Muddy Flow" (; ; Zhuó Liú). 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, along with the appearance of such auspicious legendary beasts as qilin (an African giraffe brought to China by a Bengal embassy aboard Zheng He's ships in 1414) and zouyu (not positively identified) and other strange natural phenomena.[46]

See also

References

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  2. ^ a b Baxter, Wm. H. & Sagart, Laurent. "Baxter–Sagart Old Chinese Reconstruction". (1.93 MB), p. 41. 2011. Accessed 11 October 2011.
  3. ^ Parker, Edward H. China: Her History, Diplomacy, and Commerce, from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, p. 11. Dutton (New York), 1917.
  4. ^ Geonames.de. "geonames.de: Huang He".
  5. ^ Bawden, Charles (1997). Mongolian–English Dictionary. Kegan Paul, reprinted 2010 by Routledge. pp. 537 and 593. ISBN 9781136155888.
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  8. ^ The Ice Bombers Move Against Mongolia. strategypage.com (29 March 2011)
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  11. ^ Summary of the story given in the definition of 夸父追日: 现代汉语词典(第七版) [A Dictionary of Current Chinese (Seventh Edition)] (in Chinese). Beijing: The Commercial Press. 1 September 2016. pp. 513, 755. ISBN 978-7-100-12450-8.
  12. ^ a b Gernet, Jacques. Le monde chinois, p. 59. Map "4. Major states of the Chunqiu period (Spring and Autumn)". (in French)
    English version: Gernet, Jacques (1996), A History of Chinese Civilization (Second ed.), Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-49781-7
  13. ^ "Qin Dynasty Map".
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External links

Works from the National Central Library about the Yellow River
1931 China floods

The 1931 China floods or the 1931 Yangtze-Huai River floods were a series of devastating floods that occurred in the Republic of China. They were some of the deadliest floods in history, and together formed one of the most lethal natural disasters of the 20th century, excluding pandemics and famines. Estimates of the total death toll range from 422,499 to between 3.7 million and 4 million.

1938 Yellow River flood

The 1938 Yellow River flood (traditional Chinese: 花園口決隄事件; simplified Chinese: 花园口决堤事件; pinyin: huāyuán kǒu juédī shìjiàn, literally "Huayuankou embankment breach incident") 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 Japanese forces. It has been called the "largest act of environmental warfare in history".

Bohai Economic Rim

The Bohai Economic Rim (BER) or Bohai Bay Economic Rim is the economic region surrounding Beijing and Tianjin. It also includes areas in Hebei, Liaoning and Shandong surrounding the Bohai Sea. This region has undergone major economic and infrastructural changes and is an emerging economic powerhouse of Northern China, rivalling the Pearl River Delta in the south and the Yangtze River Delta in the east.

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 the Wei Rivers are the two largest tributaries of the Yellow River. The river is 694 kilometers (431 mi) long and drains an area of 39,417 km2 (15,219 sq mi), 25.3% of Shanxi's area. The Fen River is the longest in Shanxi. It is also the second-longest tributary of the Yellow River. Within Taiyuan, the Fen runs from north to south; the prefecture includes one-seventh of the river's course.

Grand Canal (China)

The Grand Canal, known to the Chinese as the Jing–Hang Grand Canal (Chinese: 京杭大运河; pinyin: Jīng-Háng Dà Yùnhé; literally: 'Beijing–Hangzhou Grand Canal'), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the longest as well as the oldest 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, linking the Yellow River and Yangtze River. The oldest parts of the canal date back to the 5th century BC, but the various sections were first connected during the Sui dynasty (581–618 AD). Dynasties in 1271–1633 significantly rebuilt the canal and altered its route to supply their capital Beijing.

The total length of the Grand Canal is 1,776 km (1,104 mi). Its greatest height is reached in the mountains of Shandong, at a summit of 42 m (138 ft). Ships in Chinese canals did not have trouble reaching higher elevations after the pound lock was invented in the 10th century, during the Song dynasty (960–1279), by the government official and engineer Qiao Weiyue. The canal has been admired by many throughout history including Japanese monk Ennin (794–864), Persian historian Rashid al-Din (1247–1318), Korean official Choe Bu (1454–1504), and Italian missionary Matteo Ricci (1552–1610).Historically, periodic flooding of the Yellow River threatened the safety and functioning of the canal. During wartime the high dikes of the Yellow River were sometimes deliberately broken in order to flood advancing enemy troops. This caused disaster and prolonged economic hardships. Despite temporary periods of desolation and disuse, the Grand Canal furthered an indigenous and growing economic market in China's urban centers since the Sui period. It has allowed faster trading and has improved China's economy. The southern portion remains in heavy use to the present day.

Hebei

Hebei (河北; formerly romanised as Hopeh) is a province of China in the North China region. The modern province was established in 1911 as Zhili Province or Chihli Province. Its one-character abbreviation is "冀" (Jì), named after Ji Province, a Han dynasty province (zhou) that included what is now southern Hebei. The name Hebei literally means "north of the river", referring to its location entirely to the north of the Yellow River.The modern province "Chili Province" was formed in 1911, when the central government dissolved the central governed area of "Chihli", which means "Directly Ruled (by the Imperial Court)" until it was renamed as "Hebei" in 1928.

Beijing and Tianjin Municipalities, which border each other, were carved out of Hebei. The province borders Liaoning to the northeast, Inner Mongolia to the north, Shanxi to the west, Henan to the south, and Shandong to the southeast. Bohai Bay of the Bohai Sea is to the east. A small part of Hebei, Sanhe Exclave, consisting of Sanhe, Dachang Hui Autonomous County, and Xianghe County, an exclave disjointed from the rest of the province, is wedged between the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin.

A common alternate name for Hebei is Yānzhào (燕趙), after the state of Yan and state of Zhao that existed here during the Warring States period of early Chinese history.

Henan

Henan (河南; formerly romanized as Honan), is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Henan is often referred to as Zhongyuan or Zhongzhou (中州) which literally means "central plain land" or "midland", although the name is also applied to the entirety of China proper. Henan is the birthplace of Chinese civilization with over 3,000 years of recorded history, and remained China's cultural, economical, and political center until approximately 1,000 years ago.

Henan province is a home to a large number of heritage sites which have been left behind including the ruins of Shang dynasty capital city Yin and the Shaolin Temple. Four of the Eight Great Ancient Capitals of China, Luoyang, Anyang, Kaifeng, and Zhengzhou are located in Henan. The practice of Tai Chi also began in Chen Jia Gou Village (Chen style), as did the later Yang and Wu styles.Although the name of the province (河南) means "south of the [Yellow] river", approximately a quarter of the province lies north of the Yellow River, also known as the Huang He. With an area of 167,000 km2 (64,479 sq mi), Henan covers a large part of the fertile and densely populated North China Plain. Its neighboring provinces are Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei, Shandong, Anhui, and Hubei. Henan is China's third most populous province with a population of over 94 million. If it were a country by itself, Henan would be the 14th most populous country in the world, ahead of Egypt and Vietnam.

Henan is the 5th largest provincial economy of China and the largest among inland provinces. However, per capita GDP is low compared to other eastern and central provinces.

Henan is considered to be one of the less developed areas in China. The economy continues to grow based on aluminum and coal prices, as well as agriculture, heavy industry, tourism, and retail. High-tech industries and service sector is underdeveloped and is concentrated around Zhengzhou and Luoyang.

List of Neolithic cultures of China

This is a list of Neolithic cultures of China that have been unearthed by archaeologists. They are sorted in chronological order from earliest to latest and are followed by a schematic visualization of these cultures.

It would seem that the definition of Neolithic in China is undergoing changes. The discovery in 2012 of pottery about 20,000 years BC indicates that this measure alone can no longer be used to define the period. It will fall to the more difficult task of determining when cereal domestication started.

Loess Plateau

The Loess Plateau, also known as the Huangtu Plateau, 黃土高原 (Huángtǔ gāoyuán) is a 640,000 km2 (250,000 sq mi) plateau located around the Wei River valley and the southern half of the Ordos Loop of the Yellow River in central China. It covers almost all of the provinces of Shaanxi and Shanxi and extends into parts of Gansu, Ningxia, and Inner Mongolia. It was enormously important to Chinese history, as it formed one of the early cradle of Chinese civilization and its eroded silt is responsible for the great fertility of the North China Plain, along with the repeated and massively destructive floods of the Yellow River. Its soil has been called "most highly erodible... on earth" and conservation efforts and land management are a major focus of modern Chinese agriculture.

Luo River (Henan)

The Luo River (Chinese: 洛河; pinyin: Luò Hé) is a tributary of the Yellow River in China. It rises in the southeast flank of Mount Hua in Shaanxi province and flows east into Henan province, where it eventually joins the Yellow River at the city of Gongyi. The river's total length is 420 kilometres (260 mi).

Although not a major river by most standards, it flows through an area of great archaeological significance in the early history of China. Principal cities or prefectures located on the river include Lushi, Luoning, Yiyang, Luoyang, Yanshi, and Gongyi. The Luo's main tributary is the Yi River, which joins it at Yanshi, after which the river is called the Yiluo River.

North China

North China (simplified Chinese: 华北; traditional Chinese: 華北; pinyin: Huáběi; literally "China's north") is a geographical region of China, lying North of the Qinling Huaihe Line.

The heartland of North China is the North China Plain, or the Yellow River Plain. North China is usually restricted to the northern part of China proper (inner China and excludes Xinjiang and often Manchuria and Northeast China.

The vast region in China from the Yellow River Valley south to the Yangtze River was the centre of Chinese empires and home to Confucian civilization. Historically, the language used in this area was Ancient Chinese of the Huaxia, Old Chinese of the Shang, Zhou and Han dynasties. In prehistory and early history, the plain (Henan in particular) is considered the origin of Chinese civilization in official Chinese history.

Rice domestication originated in this area at least 9000 years ago, although later on in Chinese history, cultivation of wheat took over as the soils became leeched with the arrivals of the Mongolians and Manchurians from the North, which greatly influenced the area culturally, politically, linguistically and genetically, while earlier scions and their descendants migrated South of the Yangtze River to flee from the invasion of the barbarians. Refugees have fled the area since the collapse of the Han dynasty established by Qinshihuang, especially the Royalty. Imperialty, as well as families of soldiers which formed the Hakka migration, in order to escape persecutions from the new dynasties of the barbarians.

In modern times, the area has shifted in terms of linguistic, cultural, socio-political, economic and genetic composition. Nowadays unique embracing a North Chinese culture, it is heavily influenced by Marxism, Communism, Leninism, Soviet systems of farming while preserving a Traditional Chinese indigenous culture. The region has been cultivating wheat, and most inhabitants here nowadays speak variants of Northern Chinese languages such as the standard (Mandarin), which includes Beijing dialect, which is largely the basis of Standard Chinese (Mandarin), the official language of the People's Republic of China (PRC), and its cousin variants. Jin Chinese and Mongolian are also widely spoken due to the political and cultural history of the area. Other than the British Colony of Hong Kong, the revival of Shanghai as financial center, the old imperial city of the Purple Forbidden Citadel of China's Last 24 Emperors known by Westerners as Peking, now modernized as Beijing City, this is the ancient and historical region which remains truly at the heart of Chinese civilisation. It remains the political, military, and cultural center of the People's Republic of China.

North China Plain

The North China Plain (Chinese: 華北平原; pinyin: Huáběi Píngyuán) is a large-scale downfaulted rift basin formed in late Paleogene and Neogene and then modified by the deposits of the Yellow River and is the largest alluvial plain of China. The plain is bordered to the north by the Yanshan Mountains, to the west by the Taihang Mountains, to the south by the Dabie and Tianmu Mountains, and to the east by the Yellow Sea. The Yellow River flows through the middle of the plain into the Bohai Sea.

Below the Sanmenxia Dam is the multipurpose Xiaolangdi Dam, located in the river's last valley before the North China Plain, a great delta created from silt dropped at the Yellow River's mouth over the millennia. The North China Plain extends over much of Henan, Hebei, and Shandong provinces. and merges with the Yangtze Delta in northern Jiangsu and Anhui provinces. The Yellow River meanders over the fertile, densely populated plain emptying into the Bohai Sea. The plain is one of China's most important agricultural regions, producing corn, sorghum, winter wheat, vegetables, and cotton. Its nickname is "Land of the yellow earth."

The southern part of the plain is traditionally referred to as the Central Plain (pinyin: Zhōngyuán), which formed the cradle of Chinese civilization.The plain covers an area of about 409,500 square kilometers (158,100 sq mi), most of which is less than 50 metres (160 ft) above sea level. This flat yellow-soil plain is the main area of sorghum, millet, maize, and cotton production in China. Wheat, sesame seed, and peanuts are also grown here. The plain is one of the most densely populated regions in the world.

Beijing, the national capital, is located on the northeast edge of the plain, with Tianjin, an important industrial city and commercial port, near its northeast coast. Shengli Oil Field in Shandong is an important petroleum base. It is also home to the Yellow River.

Qin River

The Qin River is a tributary of the Yellow River in southeast Shanxi, China. It rises in Qinyuan County, Shanxi, and joins the Yellow River in Wuzhi County, Henan. The river is 485 km (301 mi) long and has a catchment area of 13,500 km2 (5,200 sq mi). Its largest tributary is the Dan River (丹河).

Wei River

The Wei River (Chinese: 渭河; pinyin: Wèi Hé; Wade–Giles: Wei Ho) 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.The source of the Wei River is close to Weiyuan County – Wei yuan meaning "Wei's source" – in Gansu province, less than 200 kilometres (120 mi) from the Yellow River at Lanzhou. However, due to the sharp turn north the Yellow River takes in Lanzhou, the Wei and the Yellow River do not meet for more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) further along the Yellow River's course. In a direct line, the Wei's source lies 700 kilometres (430 mi) west of the main city along its course, Xi'an in Shaanxi province. The length of the river is 818 kilometres (508 mi) and the area drained covers 135,000 square kilometres (52,000 sq mi).

The Wei River's tributaries include the Luo River, Jing River, Niutou River, Feng River and the Chishui River.

Yellow River (Georgia)

The Yellow River is a 76-mile-long (122 km) tributary of the Ocmulgee River in the U.S. state of Georgia.

The river rises north of Lawrenceville in Gwinnett County and flows south through the outer eastern suburbs of Atlanta, passing through the easternmost corner of DeKalb County before entering Rockdale County. Continuing south into Newton County, the river joins the South River in Lake Jackson, 2 miles (3 km) upstream of the junction of the Alcovy River to form the Ocmulgee River.

Yellow River (Pensacola Bay)

The Yellow River is a 118-mile-long (190 km) river in the southern United States which runs through Alabama and Florida. It empties into Blackwater Bay, an arm of Pensacola Bay.

Yellow River Marsh Preserve State Park

Yellow River Marsh Preserve State Park is a Florida State Park located on Garcon Point, south of Milton, in northwestern Florida. A small parking area, gazebo, and public access point are located on Dickerson City Road. Located on County Road 191, approximately one mile north of the intersection with County Road 281 and along both sides of the highway on Blackwater Bay.

Yellow River Station (Arctic)

The Arctic Yellow River Station (simplified Chinese: 黄河站; traditional Chinese: 黃河站; pinyin: Huánghé Zhàn) was established by the Polar Research Institute of China in Ny-Ålesund, on Svalbard, in 2003.Scientists at the station conducted research into the Aurora Borealis and microbes in the ice-pack, glacier monitoring, atmospheric research.

Zhongyuan

Zhongyuan (Chinese: 中原; pinyin: Zhōngyuán), Chungyuan, or the Central Plain, also known as Zhongtu (Chinese: 中土; pinyin: Zhōngtǔ), Chungtu or Zhongzhou (Chinese: 中州; pinyin: Zhōngzhōu), Chungchou, is the area on the lower reaches of the Yellow River which formed the cradle of Chinese civilization. It forms part of the North China Plain.

In its narrowest sense, the Central Plain covers modern-day Henan, the southern part of Hebei, the southern part of Shanxi, and the western part of Shandong province. A broader interpretation of the Central Plain's extent would add the Guanzhong plain of Shaanxi, the northwestern part of Jiangsu, and parts of Anhui and northern Hubei.

Since the beginning of recorded history, the Central Plain has been an important site for Chinese civilization.

In the pre-Qin era, present-day Luoyang and its nearby areas were considered the “Center of the World”, as the political seat of the Xia dynasty was located around Songshan and the Yi-Luo river basin.

Inscriptions on some bronze objects from this era contain references to the 'Central States' (Zhongguo), 'Eastern States', or 'Southern States'. This indicates that the Central Plain, which was referred to as the 'Central States' in these inscriptions, was considered to occupy the center of the world.

In a broader context, the term Zhongyuan refers to Chinese civilization and China proper, regions directly governed by centralized Chinese governments and dynasties. However, when used to describe the Chinese civilization, Zhongyuan often connotes Huaxia and Han Chinese cultural dominance.

The Dungans, who are Chinese descendants of Hui ethnicity, residing in Central Asia and Russia, are referred to using terms linked to Zhongyuan.

Transcriptions
Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinHuáng Hé
Wade–GilesHuang2 Ho2
IPA[xwǎŋ xɤ̌] (listen)
Wu
RomanizationWån Ghu
Yue: Cantonese
Yale RomanizationWòhng hòh
IPA[wɔ̏ːŋ hɔ̏ː]
JyutpingWong4 ho4
Southern Min
Tâi-lôN̂g hô
Middle Chinese
Middle ChineseHwang Ha
Old Chinese
Baxter–Sagart (2014)*N-kʷˤaŋ [C.q]ˤaj
Transcriptions
Wylier Ma chu
THLma chu
Major cities along the Yellow River
Province-level
subdivisions
Gansu
Ningxia
Inner Mongolia
Shanxi
Shaanxi
Henan
Shandong
Yangtze system
Yellow system
Pearl system
Heilongjiang system
Huai system
Hai system
Liao system
Other major rivers
Major canals

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