River, Central and South Asia. From its headsprings in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China (as the Yarlung River), it flows across southern Tibet to break through the Himalayas in great gorges (where it is known as the Dihang). It flows southwest through the Assam Valley and south through Bangladesh (where it is known as the Jamuna). There it merges with the Ganges (Ganga) to form a vast delta. About 1,800 mi (2,900 km) long, the river is an important source for irrigation and transportation. Its upper course was long unknown, and its identity with the Zangbo was only established by exploration in 1884–86.
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From its origin in southwestern Tibet as the Yarlung Zangbo River, it flows across southern Tibet to break through the Himalayas in great gorges and into Arunachal Pradesh where it is known as Dihang. It flows southwest through the Assam Valley as Brahmaputra and south through Bangladesh as the Jamuna. There it merges with the Ganges to form a vast delta. About 1,800 miles (2,900 km) long, the river is an important source for irrigation and transportation. Its upper course was long unknown, and its identity with the Yarlung Tsangpo was only established by exploration in 1884-86. This river is often called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra river. In Bangladesh the river merges with the Ganges and splits into two: the Hugli and Padma River. When it merges with the Ganges it forms the world's largest delta, the Sunderbans. The Sunderbans is known for tigers and mangroves. While most Indian and Bangladeshi rivers bear female names, this river has a rare male name, as it means "son of Brahma" in Sanskrit (putra means "son").
The Brahmaputra is navigable for most of its length. The lower reaches are sacred to Hindus. The river is prone to catastrophic flooding in spring when the Himalayan snows melt. It is also one of the few rivers in the world that exhibit a tidal bore.
When compared to the other major rivers in India, the Brahmaputra is less polluted but it has its own problems: petroleum refining units contribute most of the industrial pollution load into the basin along with other medium and small industries. The main problem facing the river basin is that of constant flooding. Floods have been occurring more often in recent years with deforestation, and other human activities being the major causes.
In Bangladesh, the Brahmaputra splits into two branches: the much larger branch continues due south as the Jamuna and flows into the Lower Ganges, locally called Padma while the older branch curves southeast as the lower Brahmaputra and flows into the Meghna. Both paths eventually reconverge near Chandpur in Bangladesh and flow out into the Bay of Bengal. However, the actual Brahmaputra river in Bangladesh passes through the Jamalpur and Mymensingh district. Fed by the waters of the Ganges and Brahmaputra, this river system forms the Ganges Delta, the largest river delta in the world.