Vietnam is a South East Asian nation covering an area of 128,565 square miles. The S-shaped country has a landscape comprised of highlands, mountains, coastal lowlands, and deltas. Vietnam is known for its many rivers and beautiful beaches. The longest river in South East Asia, Mekong River, passes through Vietnam before draining into the South China Sea.
The Mekong River, which is 2,703 miles long, derives its source waters from the Tibetan Plateau in China. It passes through China’s Yunnan Province, down to the border between Myanmar and Laos, and on to the border between Laos and Thailand before crossing into Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam where it drains into the South China Sea. It is the longest river in South East Asia and 12th longest river in the world. The capital of Laos, Vientiane, and the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh are located on the banks of Mekong. The river has one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world only second to the Amazon. It has the most species of large fish found in a river. The Mekong River has a myriad of uses in the regions it passes through. Some of the uses are irrigation, fisheries, power generation, navigation, domestic use, and Industrial water supply. Due to the high demands on the river, most of its resources are under threat. The Mekong River Commission was established by Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam to manage the resources found in the river. Local communities, private institutions, and NGOs are involved in the management and development of the river.
The Red River, or Song Hong, has its source in the mountains of China's Yunnan Province. The river is 714 miles long. Its main tributaries are the Black River and Clear River and on the lower end it spreads out to distributaries that form the Red River Delta. Red River carries heavy amounts of silt as it flows which gives it the red color. The sediment is deposited on the Red River Delta an area that is very fertile. North of Vietnam where the river passes is densely populated, and farming is a primary activity in the area. Other activities in the area include fishing and aquaculture. The river’s resources are threatened by over-fishing, pollution and over-cultivation.
The Black River, or Song Da, has its source in China where it is known as the Lixian River. It has a length of 570 miles. Black River is the main tributary of the Red River. Black River is essential in Vietnam for its hydroelectric power generation. The Hoa Binh Dam on the Black River, with its 1,920 megawatt power station, produces a significant share of Vietnam’s electricity. The Sơn La Dam, which is the largest hydroelectric producer in South East Asia, is also located on the Black River.
Dong Nai River
The Dong Nai River originates in the central highlands in the south of Vietnam. The river is 364 miles long and flows through 11 provinces in Vietnam. The river has a wealth of mineral resources such as gold, iron, tin, and zinc. The river basin also has tropical forests and a rich tropical ecosystem. Due to rapid development in the region, conservation measures have been established by the local authorities to ensure sustainable development.
River Valley Development and Conservation
Rivers are an important natural resource for Vietnam and its people, economy, and wildlife. Most of the Vietnamese population lives near the river basins. In fact, the major cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are located near the delta regions. The rivers are useful for fishing, farming, mining and power generation. Additionally, rivers are an important mode of transport, especially in rural Vietnam. Vietnamese rivers are threatened by numerous hydroelectric power stations built along the rivers. The stations divert the flow of water which affects the ecosystem. Rapid urbanization near the rivers also poses a threat to their existence. The Vietnamese government has heavily invested in conservation of natural resources including the rivers.