Geographical Overview

The Mekong River is 12th longest river of the world and 7th of Asia. Similarly, the river is the world’s 21st largest river basin and 8th in terms of flow rate. Hence, the Mekong River and its total basin is one of the largest water resources of Asia and the world. It takes its source from  skirts and melting snow of Himalayas in Tibet and travels in China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and flows into the South China Sea around Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). The Mekong River has a total length of 4800 km and a reservoir of 795,000 km2.

The Mekong River consists of two basins: Upper Mekong and Lower Mekong. The capitals of Laos and Cambodia are located in the Lower Mekong on the banks of the river. Main branches of the river are Nam Khan, Tha, Nam Ou, Mun, Tonle Sap, Kok, and Rua.

Biodiversity along the Mekong River

The fact that industrialization levels of the countries and cities around the river are very low makes it a source of life for the river. According to statistics, the river comes second after Amazon River in terms of biodiversity. To illustrate; 20,000 plant species, 430 mammal species, more than 1,200 bird species, 800 reptiles, 850 fish species and more lives in the delta.

Economic Value of Mekong River

Mekong river is a valuable source of irrigation, industrial water, drinking water, energy production, fishery and transportation contribute to modern life. The river is the source of life for more than  70 million Asians. Thanks to its huge basin, the river provides perfect ground for the greatest inland fishery of the world.

While embracing the sea from Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), it constitutes a large delta for rice warehouse for Vietnam. Especially during the rice growing season of the monsoon climate, the Mekong delta is covered with rice fields reminding of green and patterned carpets.

The people of the region have a growing economy thanks to Mekong tourism. It is possible to visit fisherman villages; to taste tropical fruits in floating markets; to try local dishes or to participate in cookery lessons during Mekong boat trips.

Names of Mekong River in Different Languages

  • Lancang Jiang – “wavy waters” in Mekong river Chinese
  • Mae Nam Kong –  “main” in Thai and Laos
  • Cuu Long – “new dragons” in Vietnamese


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