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The Mekong (Vietnamese M Kng) is one of the major rivers (4909 km long) of Asia. It runs through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. All except China belong to the Mekong River Commission.

The location of its source, and therefore its exact length, has been a challenge for many years. This is due to the existence of several tributaries in a difficult to reach mountainous environment. Chinese researchers now believe that the source is located in the Jifu Mountains in Zaduo County, Yushu Tibet Autonomous Prefecture of northwest China's Qinghai Province, which is some 5,200 meters above sea level.

The 2,198 km section which passes through China, is called the Lancang Jiang (Wade-Giles Lan-ts'ang Chiang) (澜沧江; pinyin lan2cang1jiang1). Once it flows out of China and continues to flow 2,711 km through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is known as Mnam Khong\ in Laos, Mae Nam Khong in Thailand, Cửu Long in Vietnam, and Mkngk in Cambodia.

The river has a number of lengthy rapids, and major drops in the Khone Falls area, near Ban Khinak in Laos.

Major cities along the Mekong include Vientiane, Laos and Phnom Penh. About 90 million people rely on the river.

It ends in the Mekong Delta. During the monsoon period from July to November the water flow in the Mekong increases that much that the Tonle Sap River in Cambodia changes course, and the Tonle Sap lake gets filled by the Mekong's waters. In the dry season the Tonle Sap River becomes a tributary of the Mekong again. This creates a natural flooding control for the delta of the Mekong.

The annual flooding is its most significant ecological feature, but with the completion of the Manwan Dam and several more in China, radical alterations to the river's ecology and fishing habitat are expected.

Political conflict is expected over this issue as China's dams are put into place first, and are widely expected to prevent sedimentation from flowing, which would seriously harm agriculture and fishing downstream.

The region has a history of conflict, and there are grave concerns that uneven distribution of harms done by the dams, and benefit derived from them, will lead to an escalation and perhaps new wars in the region.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Reference
3 External link


Although early human settlements dating from the 1st century AD have been found at Oc Eo in the Delta, and a European map of 1563 depicts the river, the first systematic exploration began in with the French Mekong Expedition led by Doudart de Lagree and Francis Garnier, which ascended the river from its mouth to Yunnan between 1866 to 1868. Their chief finding was that the Mekong had too many falls and rapids to ever be useful for navigation.


External link