Irrawaddy River

Irrawaddy River, Burmese Ayeyarwady, principal river of Myanmar (previously Burma), working via the centre of the nation. Myanmar’s most essential business waterway, it’s about 1,350 miles (2,170 km) lengthy. Its identify is believed to derive from the Sanskrit time period airāvatī, which means “elephant river.” The river flows wholly throughout the territory of Myanmar. Its complete drainage space is about 158,700 sq. miles (411,000 sq. km). Its valley varieties the historic, cultural, and financial heartland of Myanmar.

Bodily options


The Irrawaddy is shaped by the confluence of the Nmai and Mali rivers. Each branches rise within the glaciers of the excessive and distant mountains in northern Myanmar within the neighborhood of 28° N.

 The depth of the primary channel averages about 30 toes (9 metres).

 About 40 miles (65 km) downstream from Myitkyinā is the primary defile. Under Bhamo the river makes a pointy westward swing, leaving the Bhamo alluvial basin to chop via the limestone rocks of the second defile.  Between Katha and Mandalay, the course of the river is remarkably straight, flowing virtually due south, besides close to Kabwet, the place a sheet of lava has brought on the river to bend sharply westward. Leaving the third defile at Kyaukmyaung, the river follows a broad, open course via the central dry zone—the traditional cultural heartland—the place massive areas encompass alluvial flats. From Mandalay (previously the capital of the dominion of Myanmar) the river makes an abrupt westward flip earlier than curving southwest to unite with the Chindwin River, after which it continues in a southwesterly course. It’s possible that the higher Irrawaddy initially flowed south from Mandalay, discharging its water via the current Sittang River to the Gulf of Martaban, and that its current westward course is geologically latest.  In its decrease course, between Minbu and Prome, it flows via a slender valley between forest-covered mountain ranges—the ridge of the Arakan (Rakhine) Mountains to the west and that of the Pegu Mountains to the east.

The delta of the Irrawaddy begins about 58 miles (93 km) above Hinthada (Henzada) and about 180 miles (290 km) from its curved base, which faces the Andaman Sea. The edges of the delta are shaped by the southern extremities of the Pegu Mountains on the east and the Arakan Mountains on the west. The westernmost distributary of the delta is the Bassein (Pathein) River, whereas the easternmost stream is the Yangon River, on the left financial institution of which stands Myanmar’s largest metropolis, Yangon (Rangoon). As a result of the Yangon River is simply a minor channel, the circulate of water is inadequate to forestall Yangon Harbour from silting up, and dredging is important. The reduction of the delta’s panorama is low however not flat. The soils encompass tremendous silt, which is replenished constantly by fertile alluvium carried downstream by the river. On account of heavy rainfall and the movement and sediment load of the river, the delta floor extends into the Andaman Sea at a price of about 165 toes (50 metres) per yr.

Local weather

The decrease Irrawaddy River basin has a moist tropical local weather, whereas the higher river basin has a heat humid subtropical local weather. Each climatic zones are dominated by the South Asia summer time monsoon, which brings the heaviest rains between Could and October. At Yangon, within the decrease basin, temperatures vary from a January imply of 77 °F (25 °C) to an April imply of 86 °F (30 °C); temperatures fall barely through the summer time wet season. Temperatures lower with altitude up the basin to the glaciated areas the place imply annual temperatures are under 68 °F (20 °C). Precipitation varies throughout the basin from 60 to 100 inches (1,500 to 2,500 mm) per yr and falls primarily from Could to October.


The quantity of the Irrawaddy and its tributaries fluctuates significantly via the yr, mainly due to the character of the monsoon rains, which happen between Could and October, but in addition due to the fast melting of snow and glaciers through the summer time, which provides nonetheless additional to the quantity. The typical discharge of the river close to the pinnacle of the delta varies between a low of 82,000 and a excessive of 1,152,000 cubic toes (2,300 and 32,600 cubic metres) per second; the annual common discharge is 460,000 cubic toes (13,000 cubic metres) per second. The vary between excessive and low water can also be nice.  The bottom water degree happens in February, and the best in August. Usually, from December to March the river varies between the bottom degree and 5 toes (1.5 metres) above it, whereas from mid-June to mid-October the river is 20 to 30 toes (6 to 9 metres) above the bottom degree. The river ports subsequently discover it essential to have separate high- and low-water touchdown factors.

Folks of the Irrawaddy River

The peoples dwelling on the river’s banks are culturally various. On the higher reaches, the Kachin, who follow shifting agriculture, predominate. Additionally to the south, and notably within the delta correct, a substantial minority of Karen and a few Indians are to be discovered among the many Burmese majority. As well as, a small variety of each rural and concrete Chinese language are scattered all through the river’s drainage basin.

Economic system


The primary river ports on the Irrawaddy are, from north to south, MyitkyināBhamo, Katha, MandalayMyingyanChaukYenangyaungMinbuMagwe, Thayetmyo, Prome, Hinthada, and Yandoon. Of those, Mandalay, Chauk, Prome, and Hinthada have good touchdown amenities. The remaining ports have touchdown amenities for just one or two barges or lighters, with the vessels mooring alongside the riverbank in most locations. Regardless of Mandalay’s place because the chief rail and freeway focus in northern Myanmar, a substantial quantity of passenger and items site visitors strikes by river. The Chindwin valley has no railroad and depends closely on river transport. Chauk, downstream from the confluence within the oil-field district, is a petroleum port. Like Mandalay to the north and Prome, about 140 miles (225 km) to the south, it’s linked to Yangon by highway and rail. Hinthada, close to the apex of the delta, is the rail junction for strains resulting in Kyangin and Bassein (Pathein). A ferry operates between Hinthada on the west financial institution and the railway station at Tharrawaw on the east financial institution.

Greater than 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of navigable waterways exist within the Irrawaddy delta. On the Chindwin River, transportation is carried on by steam or diesel vessels all year long as much as Homalin—about 400 miles (640 km) from its confluence with the Irrawaddy.

As a result of the Irrawaddy delta is likely one of the world’s main rice-growing areas, rice is a serious merchandise of commerce on the river. Additionally transported are different foodstuffs, petroleum, cotton, and native commodities. Teak logs—of which Myanmar is the world’s main exporter—are floated downstream as massive rafts. Within the delta area, the rice is carried in small boats to native markets, whence it’s shipped to Yangon for export.

The primary crossing of the Irrawaddy is the Ava Bridge, which spans the river close to Mandalay. One other essential bridge crosses the river at Hinthada and connects the western delta with Yangon.


Though the Irrawaddy has been little used for irrigation within the central dry zone, its tributary, the Mu River, has been used for this goal because the ninth century. The Mu Valley Irrigation Mission is among the many largest within the nation. About one-sixth of the entire rice grown in Myanmar comes from the irrigated areas of Mandalay, Sagaing, and Magwe divisions. The river itself additionally serves to irrigate the delta through the dry season.

Historical past

 The Burmese fortified the city of Pagan and ultimately gained management over the Irrawaddy and Sittang river valleys and the commerce routes between India and China.

Within the thirteenth century, each the Shan and the Mongols defeated Myanmar armies, and the world dissolved into numerous states, although Burmese kingdoms intermittently reunified the Irrawaddy basin. Starting within the sixteenth century, European pursuits arrange buying and selling corporations in ports alongside the coast of Myanmar.

  Beginning with 4 steamers, the corporate had greater than 600 vessels in service by 1940. In 1948 the corporate was renamed the Inland Water Transport Firm. Since then, the service community has declined by half, gear has turn out to be antiquated, and scheduling irregular.

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