Myanmar supports a diversity of freshwater ecosystems, from fast-flowing mountain streams to wide, slow-flowing lowland rivers, as well as Jakes and wetlands. These rivers, lakes, and wetlands provide enormous economic and cultural values. The Salween and the Ayeyawady Rivers are some of the most intact major rivers in Asia, providing livelihoods to the people Jiving along their banks and rich with historical and cultural signiflcance. The Chindwin River flows through Hukaung Valley and creates one of the largest seasonally flooded grasslands of the region. lndawgyi Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Myanmar, hosting globally significant aggregations of waterbirds and providing livelihoods for people who flsh and grow unique varieties of rice around the Jake.
Myanmar is endowed with tremendous inland water resources in the form of rivers, streams, and springs. Major rivers include the 1,800 km-long Ayeyawady River which arises from the confluence of the N’mai Kha and Mali Kha Rivers. The Chindwin River, with headwaters in the northwestern hills, is the main tributary of the Ayeyawady. The Sittaung River starts rn the hrils southeast of Mandalay, and the Thanlwin River, the last undammed river, races through deep gorges in the Shan Plateau. The Kaladan River is formed by tributaries discharging from the Arakan Mountains.
Myanmar contains several large lakes, which provide critical habitat for a range of species and a source of livelihood for local residents. lndawgyi Lake in Kachin State is the largest, with around 12,000 hectares of open water. The lake provides habitat for numerous endangered species and for globally significant aggregations of migratory waterbirds. Inlay Lake on the Shan plateau is the most famous lake in Myanmar, known for its floating gardens and the leg-rowing lntha people who live around the lake. The country also contains numerous small and medium- sized lakes, including glacial lakes in the north that are crucial sources of freshwater. Lakes within urban areas provide freshwater, flood control, and opportunities for recreation.