Asia’s Mighty Mekong River
by Alexis Zubia-Torres, age 11
The Mekong River is one of
the world’s longest rivers and is an important resource and part of
history for the people who live along its bank.
The Mekong River is 2,600
miles long and runs through six Asian countries. It begins in the
highlands of Tibet and continues into Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and
Cambodia. It empties from the Mekong Delta into the South China Sea.
The giant river carp, Mekong Freshwater Stingray, smooth-coated
otter, and the Siamese Crocodile all live in the river. The
endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin also lives in the Mekong River.
About 60 million people
live in the Mekong River Basin. Many people rely on the river for
their livelihood. Cambodians get 80 percent of their protein from
fish caught in the river. The Vietnamese rely on the river to
irrigate half of the crops grown in their country.
The Mekong River also has
a rich cultural history. The Hmong are an important ethnic group in
the Mekong River Basin. When the Vietnam War started many Hmong
people helped the U.S. fight. When they lost the war, the Hmong
wanted to protect their families. To do this they had to cross the
Mekong River to find safety. However, the Mekong River was dangerous
and the Hmong could only use inner tubes and bamboo sticks to cross.
After they crossed the river, the Hmong arrived in Thailand and lived
in refugee camps.
During the Vietnam War the
U.S. made a promise to the Hmong; they agreed to offer a place for
the Hmong to stay in the U.S. if they lost the Vietnam War. The U.S.
ended up losing, so the Hmong immigrated to the United States.
Today, many Hmong are doing
great in the U.S. They are practicing their Hmong culture, while
growing up in American culture.
Street Free Press