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The Yalu River (Manchu and Chinese) or the Amnok River (Korean) is a river on the border between Chinamarker and North Koreamarker. The Chinese name comes from a Manchu word meaning "the boundary between two countries". The Korean name is the Korean pronunciation of the same Chinese characters.


From 2,500 m above sea level on Baekdu Mountainmarker, in the Changbaimarker mountain range, on the China-North Korea border, the river flows south to Hyesanmarker 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 Baymarker between Dandongmarker (China) and Sinŭijumarker (North Korea).

The bordering Chinese provinces are Jilinmarker and Liaoningmarker.

The river is 790 km (491 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), Heochun (허천강, 虚川江) and Tokro rivers. The river is not easily navigable for most of its length: although at its widest it is around 5 km, the depth is no greater than 3 m and much of the river is heavily silted.


The 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'anmarker, Chinamarker along the Yalu, a site rich in Goguryeo era relics.

Because of its strategic location between China and Korea, the river has been the site of several battles, including:

The Korean side of the river was heavily industrialized during the Japanese Colonial Period (1910–1945), and by 1945 almost 20% of Japanmarker's total industrial output originated in Koreamarker. During the Korean War the movement of UN troops approaching the river precipitated massive Chinese intervention from around Dandongmarker. In the course of the conflict every bridge across the river except one was destroyed. The one remaining bridge was the Sino-Korea Friendship Bridgemarker connecting Sinuijumarker, North Koreamarker to Dandongmarker, Chinamarker. During the war, the valley surrounding the western end of the river also became the focal point of a series of epic dogfights for air superiority over North Korea, earning the nickname "MiG Alley" in reference to the MiG-15 fighters flown by the combined North Korean, Chinese, and Sovietmarker forces.

Since the early 1990s, the river has frequently been crossed by North Koreans fleeing to China contrary to government policy.


The river is important for hydroelectric power, and one of the largest hydroelectric dams in Asia is in Sup'ung Rodongjagu, 100 m high and over 850 m long, located upstream from Sinuijumarker, North Koreamarker. In addition the river is used for transportation, particularly of lumber from its forested banks. The river provides fish for the local population.

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