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For other uses, see Yalu River (Nonni River tributary).
|Yalu (鸭绿江, )|
|Amnok (압록강, 鴨綠江)|
|Name origin: Manchu, "the boundary between two countries"|
|Countries||China (CHN), North Korea (PRK)|
|Provinces||Jilin (CHN), Liaoning (CHN), Ryanggang (PRK), Chagang (PRK), North Pyongan (PRK), Sinuiju SAR (PRK)|
|Source||South of Heaven Lake, CHN-PRK border, Paektu Mountain|
|Length||790 km (491 mi)|
NameThere are two versions regarding the origin of the river name. One version is that the name derived from "Yalv ula" in Manchu language, one ethnic language in China. The Manchu word "Yalu" means "the boundary between two countries"; in Mandarin Chinese, "Yalu" phonetically approximates the original Manchu word "Yalu", but literally means "Duck Green", which was said to be the color of the river once before. The other version is that the river was named after the combination of its two upper branches, which was called "Ya"and "Lu" respectively.
GeographyFrom 2,500 m above sea level on Baekdu Mountain (Changbai Mountain), on the North Korea-China border, the river flows south to Hyesan before sweeping 130 km northwest to Linjiang and then returning to a more southerly route for a further 300 km to empty into the Korea Bay between Dandong (China) and Sinuiju (North Korea). The bordering Chinese provinces are Jilin and Liaoning.
The river is 795 km (493 mi) long and receives the water from over 30,000 km² of land. The Yalu's most significant tributaries are the Changjin (장진강/長津江), the Hochon (허천강/虚川江), the Tokro (독로강/禿魯江) and the Ai (瑷河) rivers. The river is not easily navigable for most of its length.
The depth of the Yalu River varies from some of the more shallow parts on the eastern side in Hyesan (1 metre) to the deeper parts of the river near the Yellow Sea (2.5 metres). The estuary is the site of the Amrok River estuary Important Bird Area, identified as such by BirdLife International.
There are 205 islands on the Yalu. A 1962 border treaty between North Korea and China split the islands according to which ethnic group were living on each island. North Korea possesses 127 and China 78. Due to the division criteria, some islands such as Hwanggumpyong Island belong to North Korea but abut the Chinese side of the river.
HistoryThe river basin is the site where the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo rose to power. Many former fortresses are located along the river and the former capital of that kingdom was situated at what is now the medium-sized city of Ji'an, China along the Yalu, a site rich in Goguryeo era relics.
Wihwa Island on the river is historically famous as the place where General Yi Songgye, in 1392, decided to turn back his army southward to Kaesong in the first of a series of revolts that eventually led to the establishment of the Yi Dynasty.
The river has been the site of several battles because of its strategic location between Korea and China, including:
- Battle of the Yalu River (1894) – First Sino-Japanese War
- Battle of Yalu River (1904) – Russo-Japanese War
It was the advance of UN forces during the Korean War toward the Yalu which prompted Chairman Mao Zedong to involve China in the war for fear of an American invasion, since toppling communism was one of America's stated goals and Douglas MacArthur had expressed his desire to expand the war into China.
The river has frequently been crossed by North Koreans fleeing to China since the early 1990s.