The Longest Rivers in China

When talking about the biggest river in China or even some of the longest rivers in China, one is speaking about some of the longest in the world. Want to know more? Read on.

Travel and Exploration
31 January 2023

China’s longest rivers are some of the most magnificent in the world. Not only do they include some of the longest waterways on earth, but many contain some of the biggest and most unusual aquatic species.

So what are the longest Chinese rivers? You can bank on finding out as you read on, starting with the biggest river in China.

Yangtze River : The Biggest River in China

Yangtze River (Photo: jingjing zhang via Getty Images)

Length: 3,915 miles

The Yangtze River is the largest river in China and in all of Asia, as well as the third-longest river in the world. It flows for over 3,915 miles from its source in the Dangla Mountains to its delta in the East China Sea. Along the way, it passes through some of the most populous regions of China, including the cities of Shanghai, Wuhan, and Nanjing.

The Yangtze River is an important part of Chinese culture and history. It has been used for transportation, trade, and irrigation for centuries. One of the major uses of the Yangtze is production of hydroelectric power. In fact, it’s home to the Three Gorges Dam, said to be the most powerful hydroelectric power plant on earth.

Yellow River

Yellow River (Photo: zorazhuang via Getty Images)

Length: 3,395 miles

The Yellow River, also known as the Huang He, is one of the most iconic rivers in China. It’s the second longest river in China and the sixth longest river in the world. The Yellow River is an important water source for both agriculture and industry.

As well as its status as one of the longest Chinese rivers, Huang He is also unique for its role in Chinese history. The river has been a witness to some of the most important events in the country’s history. It was here that the first Chinese emperor, Qin Shihuang, declared the unification of China. It was also here that the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties rose and fell.

The river gets its name from the yellow silt that is carried downstream. This silt is actually soil that has been eroded from the banks of the river. Over time, the silt accumulates and gives the river its characteristic yellow colour.

Amur River: North China's Longest River

Amur River (Photo: Dean Conger via Getty Images)

Length: 2,700 miles

The Amur River is the largest river in China’s northern region. While the Amur proper runs for 1,755 miles, this increases to 2,761 miles together with its tributaries. Among the longest rivers on the planet, it forms a border between Russia and China, and has been an important trade and transportation route for centuries.

Known in Chinese as Heilongjiang, meaning “Black Dragon River”, it’s home to an estimated 123 fish species and other aquatic life. The largest fish is the giant kaluga, a predatory sturgeon that grows to up to 18 feet in length. The area around the Amur River basin is also an important breeding ground for many migratory bird species, and a vital part of the ecosystem of northeast Asia.

Pearl River: South China's Longest River

Pearl River (Photo: Sellwell via Getty Images)

Length: 1,500 miles

Named for the pearl-coloured shells found on its riverbed, the Pearl River or “Zhujiang” is one of the longest rivers in China’s southern region. Over 1,500 miles long when taken together with its tributaries, the Pearl is an important waterway used for transportation, irrigation, and hydroelectric power.

Tarim River: China’s Longest Interior River

Tarim River (Photo: zhouyousifang via Getty Images)

Length: 1,260 miles

The Tarim River system runs for 1,260 miles in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, and is the largest river in China that is classed as “interior” – meaning it does not leave its borders.

China's Longest Rivers

Tarim River (Photo: ViewStock via Getty Images)

After the Nile and the Amazon, the largest river in China is the third longest in the world. And many of its other rivers rank highly too, making China’s longest rivers some of the most amazing natural wonders on the planet.


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