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Principal Rivers of China

China has 50,000 rivers totaling some 420,000 kilometers in length and each having a catchment area of more than 100 square kilometers. Some 1,500 of these rivers each have catchment areas exceeding 1,000 square kilometers. Most rivers flow from west to east and empty into the Pacific Ocean.

The Yangzi (Changjiang or Yangzte River), which rises in Tibet, flows through Central China, and, having traveled 6,300 kilometers, enters the Yellow Sea near Shanghai. The Yangzi has a catchment area of 1.8 million square kilometers and is the third longest river in the world after the Amazon and the Nile. The second longest river in China is the Huanghe (Yellow River), which also rises in Tibet and travels circuitously for 5,464 kilometers through North China before reaching the Bo Hai Gulf on the north coast of Shangdong Province. It has a catchment area of 752,000 square kilometers.

The Heilongjiang (Heilong or Black Dragon River) flows for 3,101 kilometers in Northeast China and an additional 1,249 in Russia, where it is known as the Amur.

The longest river in South China is the Zhujiang (Pearl River), which is 2,214 kilometers long. Along with its three tributaries, the Xi, Dong, and Bei—West, East, and North—rivers, it forms the rich Zhujiang Delta near Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Macau, and Hong Kong.

Other major rivers are the Liaohe in the northeast, Haihe in the north, Qiantang in the east, and Lancang in the southwest.

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