Indus River, one of the chief rivers of southern Asia. From its source in Tibet, China, the Indus flows some 1,900 miles (3,100 km) through India and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea, an arm of the Indian Ocean. All of India's section of the river is in Kashmir. The river's drainage basin occupies 332,000 square miles (860,000 km2); most of it is in Pakistan.
The upper Indus, high in the Himalayas, is a surging torrent fed by meltwater and monsoon rains. As it enters the Punjab plain in Pakistan, the Indus becomes sluggish and winding. From the Punjab southward the river traverses desert and semidesert land, including the Thal and Thar deserts. West of Bahawalpur the Indus is joined by its main tributary, the Panjnad, formed by the junction of the Chenab and Sutlej rivers. Hyderabad, near the delta, is the largest city on the river.
The Indus river system provides water for one of the largest irrigated areas in the world. Without this water most of the basin would be virtually uninhabitable.
Conflict between Pakistan and India over distribution of the water arose shortly after the creation of Pakistan in 1947. The dispute was settled in 1960 by a treaty between India and Pakistan; it allocated the waters of the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab to Pakistan and the waters of the Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi to India. Major dams on the Indus or its tributaries include Tarbela and Mangla in Pakistan and Bhakra in India.
Historically, the Indus is known for the ancient civilization that flourished in the valley as early as 2300 B.C.