20 Interesting Facts about The Yellow River

When the early explorers saw the Yellow River, the first thing they noticed was the bright yellow color of the river. The Yellow River is rich in silt and creates numerous sediments, because of which its waters acquire such a color. This is what reflected in their definition of the river. However, knowing the complex nature of the river, the Chinese define it as “unpredictable”. Local citizens did not hide their complex feelings for the river: Huang He in Chinese means “the mother river” or they define it as a «Woe of Han’s sons» and a popular rumor says- It is «the river of a thousand sorrows.”…

  1. In early Chinese literature, the Yellow River is called He .

Now the hieroglyph has the meaning of just a river. The name “Huang He” first found in “Han Shu” (the history book of the Han dynasty). The name “Yellow” the river was named for the color of muddy water in the lower reaches of the river, acquired by washing out the loess plateau (clay) in the upper reaches.

  1. Tibetans call it the “Machu” river.

One more interesting name given to this river is Machu, named in Qinghai province, where the source of the river is located.

  1. Named Yellow River because of the color of sediments, in abundance washed away by the river from the Loess plateau and Shanxi Mountains.

The river was name yellow due to the abundance of sediments, giving a yellowish tint to its waters. It is because of them that the sea into which the river flows called Yellow. The yellow river flows through the following provinces and districts: Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan, and Shandong.

  1. Yellow river originates in the Tibetan highlands in the Bayan-Hara-Ula Mountains and flows into the Bohai Bay of the Yellow sea.

The river passes through seven provinces and two autonomous regions.

The Yellow River Facts
Credit: Wikimedia
  1. Yellow River is the second largest river in China.

The total length of the river is 3395 miles (5464 km). The height of the fall is 2.78 miles (4480 meters). The basin of the river is located at 32°– 42° North latitude and 96°– 119° East longitude. The pool area is 494 sq. miles (795 thousand sq. km).

  1. Before the construction of modern dams and hydraulic structures in China, the yellow river was prone to frequent floods and spills.

From 2540 BC to 1946, there were 1593 floods on the yellow river, the river changed its course 26 times, of which 9 times the channel noticeably moved. Some of these floods were among the worst natural disasters in the world.

  1. Yellow river caused the natural disaster of 1887.

Depending on the various sources, the 1887 Yellow River Flooding killed an estimated 1.2 to 7 million people. More than 2,000 settlements were destroyed. It all started when the Yellow River flooded in the Northern provinces of China in the late spring of 1887.

  1. One of the worst cases in history…

In the summer of 1937, the Japanese army invaded the territory of the neighboring country, marking the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese war. Well-trained and armed Japanese were moving rapidly on the territory of China, occupying more and more of the provinces. Torn by internal political contradictions, China under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek was unable to effectively resist the aggressors.

A year later, in the summer of 1938, the Japanese occupied the entire Northern part of the country. They were not going to stop and threatened the largest cities in China — Wuhan and Xi’an. To contain the occupation, the leadership decided to take a desperate step: to provoke a flood. In June 1938, dams were opened on the yellow river in Zhengzhou district, and huge streams of water flooded thousands of square kilometers. According to reports, due to the result of this terrible tragedy, about 800,000 Chinese people were killed. Henan, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces suffered the most from flooding.

  1. To prevent flooding, the Yellow River and its tributaries were secured by a large-scale system of dams, the total length of which is about 3107 miles (5000 km).

The breakouts of the dams led to huge floods and displacement of the riverbed. This led to the death of a large number of people and gave the river the nickname “the Woe of China” one of those nicknames we mentioned before.



Facts about Yellow River
Credit: Wikimedia
  1. Opening of the reservoir on the Yellow River.

When the floodgates and reservoir opened, huge streams of water and sand rush out of it. This kind of discharge of water allows clearing the river of silt and preventing local flooding.

  1. There are several large cities along the Yellow River.

Namely, those cities are the following: Lanzhou-3.6 million inhabitants; Yinchuan-2 million inhabitants; Wuhay – 430 thousand inhabitants; Baotou-1.8 million inhabitants; Luoyang-660 thousand inhabitants; Zhengzhou-8.6 million inhabitants; Kaifeng – 5 million inhabitants; Jinan – 2.6 million inhabitants.

  1. The Yellow River basin provides about 140 million people with drinking water and irrigation water.

It is called “Mother River” because it is the nurse for millions of peasants, gives new life to the fields: receding after the spilled water is a significant part of the fertile loess (silt) collected upstream. After all, each ton of loess contains a significant amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium.

  1. In 1927, the Chinese invited foreign engineers to consult on the Yellow River.

One of the consultants shared his impressions of the Yellow river: “there is obviously no other river in the world that brings so little benefit to people, given the dense population of the area through which it flows. Locals can only partly protect themselves from its devastating activities. Even as a transport artery, it does not matter much. This river is more an enemy than a helper”, he said.

  1. However, here is the paradox: despite the devastating seasonal floods, the yellow river is the largest river in the world that is prone to drying up.

Recently, due to the large expenditure on the irrigation needs of rice paddies and orchards, there has been an acute shortage of water in the Yellow River. With each passing year, the Yellow river’s periods of drying up became longer and threatening farmland. Crop failures, in turn, gave rise to the hunger of millions of Chinese families.

  1. Hukou is the largest waterfall on the Yellow River.

The width of the waterfall varies depending on the seasons. Its usual width is about 98.5 feet (30 meters), and during the flooding season, it reaches 164 feet (50 meters). The height of the waterfall is 65 feet (20 meters). A bridge connecting Shaanxi and Shanxi provinces laid not far from the waterfall. The Hukou Waterfall is one of the 40 best and most picturesque places in the world.

  1. There are turtle farms near the Yellow River.

The far eastern turtles live in the river. Locals have learned how to grow them on especial farms.  About 5 million turtles grow on one of China’s largest turtle farms per year.

  1. The Yellow River basin hosts the mountains and rivers which are known for their extraordinary beauty.

The population of the basin is a quarter of the total population of China. Fertile soil, abundant water resources, deposits of coal, oil, natural gas, ores, and rich tourist resources make the basin a place of great importance, with great potential for future development.

  1. There are huge reserves of coal, iron, copper, aluminum, as well as oil reserves in the depths of the yellow river basin,

Due to its rich natural resources, chemical, electrical, engineering, and other industries are developing quite rapidly, and new industrial areas are growing and emerging. It is important to note that the large flow of the river and the significant slope of its channel leads to the availability of significant hydropower resources.

  1. In China, if there is a river that has become home to Chinese civilization, it is certainly the Yellow River.

The world’s early civilizations began to develop near fertile lakes and rivers suitable for human activities. The real homeland of China, where the earliest traces of human activity have been found, is the Yellow River and its sister, the Yangtze River. Compared to its sister in the South, the yellow river is home to some of the earliest civilizations and kingdoms that began conquering China from the East, West, and South.

  1. World Rivers Day…

It is celebrated in many countries of the world on March 14, the date is designed to draw the attention of all humankind to the construction of dams and dikes that violate the single ecosystem of the planet. Water-rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, the greatest wealth given to humanity by nature, and every drop of it is precious because human life is impossible without water.

By Arslan Batyrovich

Founder of
Writer, Researcher, Fact-finder, and All-in-one
Loves nature, Likes history, and Adores anything interesting
To get tailored writing or to work with, contact at [email protected]

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