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Longest Rivers in the World...

A river is a large natural stream of water flowing in a channel to the sea, a lake, or another stream. When one stream meets another and they merge together, the smaller stream is known as a tributary. It takes many tributary streams to form a river. A river grows larger as it collects water from more tributaries along its course.

We all know that rivers are one of the most important parts of human civilizations. Rivers normally contain freshwater and are used for drinking water, bathing, washing, as a source of food, transporting goods, transporting people, disposing waste, making hydro-power, driving machinery using a water wheel, acting as a border and helping with defence.  

Rivers begin at their source on a higher ground such as mountains or hills, where rain water or melting snow collects and forms tiny streams. As the river flows downstream in channels, it gains more water from other streams, rivers, springs, added rainfall, and other water sources. The bottom of the channel is called the bed and the sides of the channel are called the banks. Most of the world’s major cities are located near the banks of rivers. The great majority of rivers eventually flow into a larger body of water, like an ocean, sea, or large lake. The end of the river is called the mouth.

While the Ganges, Yangtze and Indus rivers are three of the most polluted on Earth, the world features some amazingly long rivers, but which are the longest? How do we measure these rivers? Geographers calculate the distance from the source of the river to its mouth. Let’s read more to find out the top ten longest rivers in the world!

1. The Nile River: 6650km

The longest river in the world is the Nile River in Africa. Nile flows 6,650 km or 4,132 miles through ten countries: Ethiopia, Zaire, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, South Sudan and of course Egypt. Rippon Falls may be the starting point of the river, but Lake Victoria, Africa’s biggest lake, is generally thought of as the source of the River Nile. Most Egyptians live near the Nile as it provides water, food, transportation and very fertile soil for growing food.


2. The Amazon River: 6,400 km

The Amazon River of South America comes next at a length of 6400 km. It is the largest river in the world with a total river flow greater than the next ten largest rivers combined. The Amazon, which has the largest drainage basin in the world, accounts for approximately one-fifth of the world’s total river flow! In its upper stretches, the Amazon River is called Apurímac (in Peru) and Solimões (in Brazil).  Because it is so vast, it is sometimes called ‘The River Sea’. The Amazon River is home to the piranha – a deadly meat eating fish.

Courtesy: Shutterstock


3. Yangtze River: 6,300 Km

Yangtze River is the third-longest river in the world and is the longest river in China and Asia. This river becomes the southern boundary of the ancient culture of China which is located between the Yellow River in the north and Long River in the south. The Chinese name of the river is Chang Jiang, literally meaning ‘Long River’. This name is also found on many modern maps in English. The name Yangzi or Yangtze was originally used by local people to refer to the lower reaches of the river. However, because this was the name first heard by missionaries and traders, it has been applied in English to the entire river. The river is one of the busiest in terms of traffic. Ships use it to transport coal and manufactured goods. Passenger ships also use the river. Yangtze River cruises are quite a big tourist attraction.


4. Mississippi – Missouri River: 6,275 Km

The Mississippi and Missouri Rivers combine to form the longest river system in the USA and North America.  Mississippi River is a river in the U.S. It is the second longest river in America. It originates in Lake Itasca in Minnesota and culminates in the Gulf of Mexico. The name “Mississippi” comes from a Native American language meaning “father of waters.” Mississippi flows to the south across the central U.S. Flowing through the state of Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Many of Mark Twain’s famous stories are related to or take place near the Mississippi River. This includes the well-known  book ‘Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’.


5.  Yenisei-Angara-Selenga-Ider: 5,539 Km

Yenisei also written as Yenisey, comes fifth in the list of longest rivers. It is the largest river system flowing to the Arctic Ocean and is the central of the three great Siberian rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean. The maximum depth of the Yenisei River is 24 m and it is frozen for more than half the year. If unchecked the ice could dam the river causing major flooding.


6. Yellow River /Hwang Ho: 5,464 Km

Yellow River, also known as the Huanghe or Hwangho is an important river in North China which became the centre of Chinese culture together with the Long River (Yangtze) in the south. With a length of 5,464 kilometres, the river is the second longest river in China after the Long River (Yangtze). Its source is the Kunlun Mountains, in western China. Its mouth is the Gulf of Bohai. The river is called the Yellow River, named for the colour of the silts that are carried downstream in its flow. The river has flooded so often that is has become known as the River of Sorrow.


7. Ob – Irtysh River: 5,410 Km

The Ob – Irtysh River begins at the junction of the Biya and Katun rivers, in the Altai Mountains, and flows through Siberia to the Gulf of Ob. It is made up of the Ob, the main river, and the Irtysh, its main tributary. Geographers most often refer to the two together, as the Ob-Irtysh River. Other large tributaries include the Tom, the Chulym, the Ket, the Tym, the Vakh, the Vasyugan, and the Sosva. But only the Irtysh, as the main tributary, gets its name in the title. The river is frozen for almost five to six months of the year, but transportation is high and heavy for the rest of the year, both for trade and for sightseeing. A series of canals connects the Ob with the Yenisei River.


8. Congo River: 4,700 km

The Congo River (also known as Zaire River) is the largest river in the western part of Central Africa. This river is the second largest river in Africa (after the Nile). The river runs through the Congo rainforest which is the second largest rain forest in the world .The name comes from the Kingdom of Congo. From 1971 to 1997, the government called it Zaire River. It is also the deepest river in the world! It reaches depths of over 750 feet (230 meters).The Congo River is so powerful that if has the potential to supply all of sub-Saharan Africa's electricity needs.


9. Amur River: 4,444 Km

Amur River or Heilong Jiang is the 9th longest river in the world. This river forms the border between the Far East Russia with the North East part of China. It is the longest river of the Russian Far East, and it ranks behind only the Yangtze and Huang Ho (Yellow River) among China’s longest rivers. The Amur’s Chinese name, Heilong Jiang, means “Black Dragon River,” and its Mongol name, Kharamuren, means “Black River.”


10. Lena: 4,400 Km

The Lena river is one of the greatest water systems of our planet! It takes the 10th place among the longest rivers in the world. The Lena river basin covers about 1/5 of the Russia’s territory. The river has its source in the western hills of Baikal mountain ridge and flows into the Arctic Ocean. It is one of the cleanest rivers in the world and still flows in its original bed. At present, there are no hydro-power stations, dams, or other types of industrial constructions affecting the river’s environment. At places with no settlements one can scoop a palm of its water and drink it right away!


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