Nam Ngum

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Location of the Nam Ngum river

Nam Ngum (Laotian: ນ້ຳງືມ [nâːm ŋɯ́ːm]) is a 354 km long river of Laos and one of the major tributaries of the Mekong.[1]


Nam Ngum originates from the Northern mountainous region of Xiangkhoang Province and flows south through Vientiane Province joining the Mekong at the capital of Laos, Vientiane.

The Nam Ngum river basin is home to about 1 million people in Laos. The current largest dam on Nam Ngum, Nam Ngum Dam (Nam Ngum 1 Hydropower Project) was originally constructed between 1968 and 1971. There are also four other hydropower projects under construction or planned for construction on the Nam Ngum River. Tourism destinations along Nam Ngum include the Nam Ngum Lake, Dansavanh Nam Ngum Resort, and Vang Vieng.

The Nam Ngum river basin covers 16,906 square kilometers, including 8,297 km2 of watershed area. The Nam Ngum river basin covers 2.73% of the lower Mekong river basin. The water flow of the Nam Ngum River to the Mekong River is 700 m3/s. 30% of the river basin area is covered by forest. Various international organizations and financial institutions assist in watershed management, water resource management, establishment of water regulation, and river basin organizations for optimum use of water resources and watershed protection. One such project, the Nam Ngum River Basin Development Sector Projects, ha been operating since 2002).


The hemimyzon confluens, a type of ray-finned fish, is only known to live in the Nam Ngum drainage area. It is threatened by mining, pollution, and hydro-power development.[2]