The Brahmaputra is a 2,390-mile long river that flows within the boundaries of three countries in Asia: China (Tibet), India, and Bangladesh. The river's name also varies depending on location and the local language. For example, in China, the river is referred to as the Tsangpo, while in India it is called Brohmoputro noi in the local Assamese language. The Brahmaputra is considered the ninth largest river in the world by the volume of water discharge, and is also among the longest in the world. The source of the Brahmaputra is the Angsi Glacier in the Himalayan Mountains. The river flows for nearly 2,400 miles until it reaches its mouth in the Bay of Bengal.
Brahmaputra in Tibet
The source of the Brahmaputra was historically believed to be the Chemayungdung glacier. However, further studies proved that the actual source is the Angsi Glacier, which is situated on the northern edge of the Himalayas. While flowing within the boundaries of Tibet, which is an autonomous region of China, the river is referred to as the Yarlung Tsangpo. After originating in the Angsi Glacier, the Brahmaputra follows an easterly path for nearly 680 miles, and is bound by the Himalayas to the south and the Gangdese Range to the north. While in Tibet, several important tributaries join the Brahmaputra, such as the Raka Zangbo, which links with the river west of the town of Shigatse, as well as the Kyi River, which joins the Brahmaputra near Qüxü. In Tibet, the Brahmaputra charts a course through an extremely deep gorge which is often referred to as the Grand Canyon in the local language. From Tibet, the Brahmaputra then flows into India.
Brahmaputra in India
In India, the Brahmaputra first flows through the northern region of the state of Arunachal Pradesh. The river flows within the state for about 22 miles before it is joined by two of its major tributaries, the Lohit River and the Dibang River. After joining the Lohit River, it is known as the Brahmaputra. The river crosses through territory of the indigenous Bodo tribe, who refer to the river as Burlung-Buthur. After flowing through Arunachal Pradesh, the river enters the Indian state of Assam, where its width increases to nearly 12 miles in some areas. The river later separates into two distinct streams, the Brahmaputra channel in the south and the Kherkutia channel in the north. The rivers split and subsequently join together again about 62 miles downstream, resulting in the formation of the world's largest river island, named Majuli.
Brahmaputra in Bangladesh
The Brahmaputra then flows into Bangladesh, where it links up with one of its largest tributaries, the Teesta River. After joining with the Teesta River, the Brahmaputra splits into two distinct distributary branches. The western branch, which is largest in terms of water volume, flows south, while the eastern branch links up with the Meghna River, and both eventually flow into the Bay of Bengal. The western branch also flows into the Bay of Bengal.
Importance of the Brahmaputra
The Brahmaputra has a direct impact on the lives of millions of residents, as it serves as a supply of water, especially for agriculture. The Brahmaputra is also a source of fish to the people who live close to the river.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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