Salween Stories

Stories from

the Salween River


Why Salween Stories?

There are many stories about the Salween River. Myths from long ago. The hopes and tragedies of the recent past. The present day stories of a diversity of local lives and cultures. Dreams for a better future - some shared and some dissimiliar.  

“Salween Stories” is a space to share the stories of this unique river, told by those who live alongside and passionately care about its future.


About the Salween River

The Salween River begins its journey high up in the Tibetan plateau. It cascades down through steep and narrow gorges in China’s Yunnan Province, where it is known as the Nu Jiang or "angry river". In Myanmar, where it is named the Thanlwin River, it courses through ethnic states, partly forms the border with Thailand, and empties into the Andaman Sea. The basin is home to over ten million people, mostly from ethnic minorities, encompassing great cultural diversity along its length. As one of the last largely free flowing major rivers of Southeast Asia, large swathes remain host to a rich biodiversity.

The future of the Salween hangs in the balance. The basin is caught up in the contradictions of a complex history and a rapidly changing region around it. In China, momentum is growing around establishing national parks to protect the upper basin, displacing earlier plans for a cascade of large dams. Downstream, in Myanmar, many stretches of the river have a tragic history of recent conflict. Here, alongside recent efforts to negotiate peace, different visions are emerging. They range from a “Salween peace park” that would emphasize ecological protection in harmony with local livelihoods, to plans for big hydropower dams for economic growth that would export electricity to neighboring Thailand and Myanmar.