Yellow River Facts

The Yellow River (Huáng Hé) is China’s second-longest (after the Yangtze) and the world’s sixth-longest. The river flows into the Bohai Sea, a gulf of the Yellow Sea. The Chinese call the river “the Mother River of China” and “the Cradle of Chinese Civilization.” 

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Yellow River Facts for Kids

  • The river is 5464 km long
  • There are three stages to the river: upper, middle, and lower.
  • Hukou Waterfall is the second largest in China.
  • This river is called the “Mother River of China” and the “Cradle of Chinese Civilization.”
  • About 12% of the country’s population receives water from this river.
  • Originating in the Bayankala Mountains in western China’s Qinghai province
  • The river travels through nine Chinese provinces before reaching the Bohai Sea

How Old is the Yellow River

Early Chinese history literature mentions the river in 475BC which is a long time ago

Located in China, the river originates on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It flows through nine provinces and ends in the Bohai Sea. 

Also known as the “mother river of China,” it’s influenced Chinese politics, economy, and culture for over 2000 years.

Why is the Yellow River Yellow

Silt gives the river its yellow-brown color, and when the river overflows, a yellow residue remains. The Yellow River is also known as the Huang He Valley and has a remarkable history.

History of the River

It has caused many deadly floods throughout Chinese history. The Yuan dynasty flood of 1332-1333, the Qing dynasty flood of 1887, and the Republic of China flood of 1931 are only a few examples of China’s terrible floods throughout history.

Between 900,000 to 2 million people were killed in the Qing dynasty flood of 1887, whereas 1 million to 4 million people were killed in the Republic of China flood of 1931.

The Yellow River is known for carrying a lot of fine-grained sediment.

This sedimentation causes natural dams, which leads to flooding. Water is forced to find new routes to the sea as a result of sedimentation, which causes this flooding.

The River up Close

The mouth of the river is in Shandong’s Kenli County.

Among the Yellow’s many tributaries are the following: the White and Black rivers, Datong and Daxia rivers, Tao and Zuli rivers, the Qingshui and Dahei rivers, and the Kuye and Wuding rivers.

It originates in Tibet’s southern Qinghai Province and flows through six provinces and two autonomous territories.

Some of these areas are Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan, and Shandong.

The Geography of the River

This major river has changed its path many times throughout history. This has caused the river to change its course and form new rivers.

It’s rich in fish and is a major source of food for people living along its banks. It has been used for transportation since ancient times.

The upper course is mostly remote, mountainous, poorly populated, and cold.

The middle flows east into Inner Mongolia’s alluvial plains.

The lower course crosses the North China Plain via Henan and Shandong.

The Yellow River delta covers an area of approximately 8,000 square kilometers (3,090 square miles). 

Biodiversity of the River and Land

The fish populations are declining due to overfishing and habitat loss. Some fish species in the Yellow River include gobies, stone loaches, true loaches, bagrids, and Takifugu.

Other fish in the Yellow River includes Asian carp, northern snakeheads, and Asian swamp eels.

The river has two turtle species. The Chinese pond turtle and the Chinese softshell turtle.

The Yellow River gigantic salamander is native to China. It is mostly farmed for food and medicine.

Largest Waterfall

The Hukou Waterfall is the second largest in China. The Hukou Waterfall is the world’s largest yellowish waterfall in size, and it’s second to Huangguoshu Waterfall in Guizhou Province.


The Yellow River and its floods are significant to Chinese tradition, folklore, and history.

Parts of the Yellow River are unsuitable for agricultural and industrial uses due to severe pollution. But, it’s still a vital part of life in China.