With a total length of 5,464 km, Yellow River, or Huang He in Chinese, is the second longest river of China and the 6th longest of the world. Has a basin area of 742,443 km², this river is “the cradle of Chinese civilization” as its basin, was the birthplace of ancient Chinese civilizations and the most prosperous region in early Chinese history.
Originated from Kariqu Stream, which flows on the northern side of Bayan Har Mountans in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, this river running through Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Shannxi, Henan and Shandong those nine provinces of China, and finally pouring into Bohai Sea.
As running through the Loess Plateau during the middle journey and carrying much sand and dust, it is then becoming the most sediment-laden river in the world on earth. And therefore the epithet “yellow” is actually described the perennial color of the muddy water in the lower course of the river, arising from loess being carried downstream. But on the other hand, the unique scenery of the Loess Plateau is extremely attractive.
With broad river area, Yellow River is not the only name it got. In Qinghai area, where its source is, the river’s Tibetan name is “River of the Peacock“. Down to the Inner Mongolia, is has a name of Ȟatan Gol, means “the yellow river”, though originally, in Mongolian, the Yellow River of this section was called the “Black River”, as it ran clear prior to its entry onto the Loess Plateau.
In the central area of China, the Yellow River was simply named as He (means river in modern Chinese) in early Chinese literature. The first book that has mentioned the name “Huang He” is the Book of Han that written during the Western Han dynasty (206 BC – AD 9).
Before 1946, the modern dames been built along the basin, the Yellow River was extremely prone to flooding. The cause of the floods is mainly owning to the large amount of loess carried by the river, which is continuously deposited along the bottom of its channel, lifting the rive bed and sometimes can even leveled it up that higher than the surrounding countryside. It then got another name as “the Hanging River”.
According to the hydrology and geography, the Yangtze can be divided into three sections:
The Upper Reaches
The Upper Reaches of the Yellow River is starting from its source in the Bayan Har Mountains to Hekou Town (Togtoh County) of Inner Mongolia, which stretches 3,472 kilometers in total with a total basin area of 386,000 square kilometers (1/2 of the total basin area).
• The whole upper reaches can also be divided into 3 sections
The source section of the river flows mainly through pastures, swamps, and knolls. The river water is clear and flows steadily.
The valley section stretches from Longyang Gorge in Qinghai to Qingtong Gorge in Gansu. The water bed is narrow and the average drop is large, so the flow in this section is extremely turbulent and fast. Its flow condition makes it the best location for hydroelectric plants.
In the next section, the regions along the river are mostly deserts and grasslands, with very few tributaries. The flow is slow.
The Middle Reaches
The Middle Reaches of the Yellow River runs from Hekou Town of Inner Mongolia to Mengjin County in Henan, which stretches 1,206 kilometers and with a basin area of 344,000 square kilometers. 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.
This section of the Yellow River flows through the Loess Plateau, the large amount of mud and sand it carried makes the river the most sediment-laden river in the world. The famous Hukou Waterfall is located in this reaches.
The Lower Reaches
The Middle Reaches of the Yellow River runs from Mengjin County in Henan to Bohai Sea, which stretches 786 kilometers with a basin area of only 23,000 square kilometers.
Owning to the large amount of mud and sand discharged into the river, the rive bed is elevated badly in this reaches. In Kaifeng, the Yellow River is 10 metres (33 ft) above the ground level.