Water Resources

  • Land Resources

  • Water Resources

  • Fauna and Flora Resources

  • Mineral Resources

  • Marine Resources

  • Climate

  • Environmental Protection

China ranks in the forefront worldwide in terms of the number of rivers and lakes.

Because most of the main rivers originate from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with big falls, China has abundant waterpower resources, with total reserves of 680 million kw, ranking first in the world. However, the waterpower resources are unevenly distributed, with 70 percent in southwest China. The Yangtze River system has the most waterpower resources, which account for nearly 40 percent of the national total, followed by the Yarlung Zangbo River system. The Yellow and Pearl river systems also abound in waterpower resources.

China is rich in water resources that, however, are unevenly distributed regionally, rich in the south and poor in the north. Pictured is a bird's eye view of the Three Gorges Water Conservancy Project on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River.

China's total stock of water resources in 2006 was 2.55 trillion cubic meters, or 1,945 cubic meters in per-capita terms, representing a year-on-year decrease of 9.1 percent and 9.6 percent, respectively. The annual average precipitation was 604 mm, down 6.2 percent. Large reservoirs in China stored 180.6 billion cubic meters of water at the end of 2006, 24.5 billion cubic meters less than that at the end of 2005. Total water consumption went up 0.7 percent year on year to reach 567 billion cubic meters, of which, water consumption for municipal use rose 0.7 percent; that for industrial use, up 1.9 percent; and that for agricultural use, up 0.2 percent. Water consumption for every 10,000 yuan worth of gross domestic product produced was 279 cubic meters, a decline of 8.8 percent over 2005. Water consumption for every 10,000 yuan worth of industrial added value was 151 cubic meters, down 9 percent over the previous year. Average per-capita water consumption was 432 cubic meters, maintaining the same level as in 2005. Some 35.78 million people and 29.36 million large domestic animals suffered temporary shortage of drinking water during the year.

Waterpower Reserves of Main River Systems

River system

Waterpower reserves (100m kw)

Proportion (%)

National total



Yangtze River



Yellow River



Pearl River



Heilongjiang River



Yarlung Zangbo and other rivers in Tibet



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