Salween River

The Salween ("the angry river", Chinese) is a river, about 2,815 kilometres (1,749 mi) long, that flows from the Tibetan Plateau into the Andaman Sea in Southeast Asia. It drains a narrow and mountainous watershed of 324,000 square kilometres (125,000 sq mi) that extends into the countries of China, Burma and Thailand. Steep canyon walls line the swift, powerful and undammed Salween, one of the longest free-flowing rivers in the world. Its extensive drainage basin supports a biodiversity comparable with the Mekong and is home to about 7 million people. In 2003, key parts of the mid-region watershed of the river were included within the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The first people to live on the Salween arrived in the region thousands of years ago, and are still relatively isolated from the rest of the world. The river is only navigable up to 90 kilometres (56 mi) from the mouth, and only in the rainy season. In the 1930s, controversy over a trade route between China and Burma that crossed the river sparked the Salween Campaign of World War II, when thousands of Chinese and Japanese soldiers lost their lives on the river. Logging began on the mountains surrounding the Salween in the late 20th century, and has damaged the river's ecology. Recently, a number of dams were planned to be built on the Salween in China, but because of fierce opposition, the proposals remained undecided for several years, however recent reports from China suggest the dams now will be built.

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