The Salween River
originates in the eastern highlands of the Tibetan Plateau
and flows through valleys that are at first steep and narrow, then increasingly broad as the river approaches the tropical lowlands. Eventually it enters the Andaman Sea in eastern Myanmar.
The 2815 km long Salween river runs parallel to the mighty Mekong River for much of its course and forms part of the border between Myanmar and Thailand. When it flows through Yunnan, it is known as the Nujiang river.
About 140 fish live in this river (approximately one-third endemic species) with Minnows (Cyprinidae
) being the most diverse group of fish. The area is also home to the world's most diverse turtle community, with between 10 and 15 genera of turtles represented, many of which are riverine species.
For most of its route the river is of little commercial value, and it passes through deep gorges and is often called China's Grand Canyon. It is home to over 7,000 species of plants and 80 rare or endangered animals and fish. Unesco said this region "may be the most biologically diverse temperate ecosystem in the world" and designated it a World Heritage Site in 2003.
The Salween is the longest undammed river in mainland Southeast Asia.