Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wei River

The Wei River is a river in west-central China and is the largest tributary of the Yellow River. The source of the Wei River is close to Weiyuan County in Gansu province. Weiyuan literally means "Wei's source". At its source, it is less than 200 kilometres from the Yellow River at Lanzhou. However, due to the sharp turn north the Yellow River takes in Lanzhou, the Wei and the Yellow Rivers do not meet for more than 2000 km further along the Yellow River's course. In a direct line, its source lies 700 kilometres west of the main city along its course, Xi'an in the Shaanxi province. The length of the river is 818 kilometres and the area drained covers 135.000 km? Its valley was one of the early cradles of Chinese civilisation, along which the capitals of the , , and were situated. The area in Dingxi City, Gansu Province, around its headwaters, has numerous stone age sites from various early cultures. In September of 2003 extensive rainfall led to flooding that caused over 30 fatalities, and temporarily displaced over 300,000 persons. Ecological aspects of the Wei River have been examined with respect to flow rates in the Wei River.


The headwaters of the Wei River are notable in the ancient history of the Northern Silk Road, one of four "Silk Roads" of antiquity. According to C. Michael Hogan, the Chinese segment of the Northern Silk Road is "the northernmost route of some 2600 kilometres, which connects the ancient Chinese capital of Xian to the west via the Chinese cities of Baoji, Tianshui , Lanzhou, Dunhuang, over the Wushao Ling Pass to Wuwei and emerging in Kashgar, China before linking to ancient Parthia. This route traverses the provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu as well as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. This most northern of the Silk Roads is characterised by its looping north of the Taklamakan Desert."

The Wei Valley is likely the earliest center of Chinese civilisation, and also the location of China's first major irrigation works.

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