The Top Ten Rivers of the World

Introduction.
The only criterion for selection to this exclusive list is length in miles. The longest river gains first position, and so on in descending order.

Number 1. The Nile.
Length in miles 4145. Location Africa. Empties into the Mediterranean. The world's longest river, flowing from South to North, and finally emptying into the Mediterranean.

It has three major rivers contributing to it, the Blue Nile with its source in Ethiopia near Lake Tana, north of Khartoum, the White Nile and Blue Nile are joined by the Atbara, which also was born in the highlands of Ethiopia. A little north of Cairo, the Nile splits into two arms, the Rosetta Branch to the west, and the Damietta to the east.

In 1971 the Aswan High Dam was opened, built to control the flow of the Nile, and Lake Nasser, some 312 miles long, a man made lake came into being as a result of this construction work.

Salt water problems.
Given this control of the Nile, when the river finally enters the Mediterranean, its strength of flow is no longer robust enough to prevent salt water from the Mediterranean entering into the Nile, and forcing its way back up the river. Thus, this ingress of salt destroys both the soil around the Delta, and the habitat of animals and birds.

Map of the Nile River

Map of the Nile River


Sunset on the Nile River

Sunset on the Nile River


Number 2. The Amazon River.
Length in miles 4,050. Location Peru/brazil. Empties into the Atlantic. The Amazon is pipped by the Nile for the World's longest river title, but only just. However the Amazon carries the greatest volume of water of any river world wide, as it drains the northern half of the South American continent. This river's headwaters start high up in the Andes mountains, it is reported that 4.2 million cubic feet of water per second flow out into the ocean at the Amazon's mouth, and that is an amazing statistic!

The basin formed by the Amazon is 9 times the size of the US state of Texas, and its water shed covers the largest tropical rain forest world wide. I was suprised to learn that not a single bridge spans this mighty river.

Many species of unique animals, birds, fish, and plants grace the lands that the Amazon passes through on its way to the Atlantic Ocean. The Toucan with its amazing beak, is found no where else but close to this river, the boa constrictor flourishes in the damp rain forest ajoining the river, and the jaguar may be seen stretched out in tree branches as the river flows swiftly by. Whilst in America they may boast of catfish up to 40 pounds in weight, a typical catfish of the Amazon may come in at 200 pounds.

The mere mention of the Amazon brings to mind, size, exotic plants, dripping rain forest, adventure, mystery, and a sheer volume of rushing water probably unequalled anywhere else on our planet.

Map of Amazon River

Map of Amazon River

 

The boa constrictor of the Amazon area

The boa constrictor of the Amazon area

 

The Toucan only found in the environs of the Amazon River

The Toucan only found in the environs of the Amazon River


Number 3. The Yangtze River.

Length 3,915 miles. location China. Empties into the East China Sea. The third longest river in the world, and the longest in Asia, the Yangtze has its headwaters at 16,000 feet in the South West section of Qinghai, and moves south and then east through the three gorges. These are: Qutang, Wu and Xiling gorges.

Three Gorges Dam project.
Some 20,000 labourers are working flat out to build the world's largest dam here, as broad as the Golden Gate Bridge and twice as high, scheduled for completion in 2009, at a total cost of US $ 7.2 Billion. It aims to produce 18,000 Mega watts of power.

Deposit of Silt.
The river drops a 170 million cubic meters of silt annually that assists a large plain in Jiangsu Province, where the major crop Rice, is the staple food of the Chinese.

Population along the banks of the Yangtze River.
Some 400 million Chinese inhabit the areas that surround the river as it winds across China making its exit to the East China Sea, just north of Shanghai.

The Yangtze River and the Three Gorges Dam location

The Yangtze River and the Three Gorges Dam location

 

A view of the Yangtze River

A view of the Yangtze River

 

Bridge across the Yangtze

Bridge across the Yangtze

 

The Rainbow bridge at Wusan, situated athe end of Wu Gorge, the second of the three gorges on the Yangtze River

The Rainbow bridge at Wusan, situated athe end of Wu Gorge, the second of the three gorges on the Yangtze River


Number 4. The Mississippi River.

Length 3,760 miles. Country United States of America. Empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The source of the Mississippi is found in the Minnesota Northwoods, and it flows down to the Gulf of Mexico.

Indian name for Mississippi.
The Ojibway Indians living on the banks of the Mississippi river called it "Messipi- Big River. We find up to 400 species of wild life calling this river home. and close to 40% of all North American duck, goose, swan, and wading birds rely on the river as their migration corridor. There are 241 species of fish that live in the Mississipi, and 12 million Americans live in the 125 Counties that border it.

History of the River.
This river reeks with history, when its waters were traversed by many river boats powered by both side and stern paddle wheels, and the song " Ole Man River" immortalises the timelessness of this great waterway. Mark Twain made it famous with his stories based upon the river, and its traffic.

Mississippi River basin

Mississippi River basin

Number 5. The Irtysh River.
Length 3,100 miles. Country Russia. Empties into the Ob River. Sourced in the Mongolian Altai mountains, its course takes it North West through the 700 square mile lake of Zaysun to Kazakhstan until it meets up with the Ob river in Western Siberia. Steamers navigate this Russian river between April and November, and then it is frozen over.

The river's name Irtysh means "earth mover", and prior to the Russians arriving in the late 16th. Century, its environs were occupied by both Chinese and Mongels. Along its banks before reaching Omsk are large power stations devouring vast quantities of the river's water to operate them. The river then moves through the Kazakhstan steppes.

Satellite image of the Irtysh River in Russia

Satellite image of the Irtysh River in Russia

 

Map showing the Irtysh River, and it flowing into the Ob

Map showing the Irtysh River, and it flowing into the Ob

 

Butterfly from the left floodlands of the Irtysh River near the city of Omsk. Photo by Oleg Hosterin

Butterfly from the left floodlands of the Irtysh River near the city of Omsk. Photo by Oleg.Hosterin

 

City Administration Building of Omsk, sits on Irtysh River

City Administration Building of Omsk, sits on Irtysh River

Omsk Passenger River Terminal

Omsk Passenger River Terminal

 

Number 6. The Amur River.
Length 2,900 miles. Location Siberia. Empties into Tatar Strait. ( Pacific Ocean. ) This river is formed by the joining of the Argun and Shilka rivers flowing in the North East corner of Asia, rising in the mountains of NE China to finally exit to the Tatar Strait in the Pacific Ocean.

For almost 1,100 miles it marks out a common boundary with China on its right bank, and Russia on its left bank. I sat wondering if sharing a major river between both China and Russia posed any problems, are there disputes over the fish in the Amur? of which there are some 108 different species. One of them is the Black Amur, a fish that may grow to 120 cm, and weigh in at 30 kilograms. There is not a single dam to be found over the total length of the Amur river, but does access to its water provide friction between the neighbours who share this bounty? Do China and Russia cojoin to preserve its assets? The area in, and close by this river, is home to 95% of the world's Oriental White Stork.

As the river wends its way across NE Asia through a variety of landscape, on its journey to to the sea, the valleys, drained by it and its branches, embrace some 715,000 square miles.

Amur Leopard Cat.
The unique Amur Leopard Cat is only found in the environs of the Amur River, the species in dire straits, only 50 of them thought to still be in existence today.

 

Map showing the course of the Amur river

Map showing the course of the Amur river

 

A picturesque view of the Amur river

A picturesque view of the Amur river


Number 7.
The Congo River.
Length 2,718 miles. Location Congo, Africa. Empties into the Atlantic. The Congo river is second only to the Nile here in Africa, and it forms in the most southern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo at the meeting of the Lualaba and Luvua rivers. It flows to the Stanley Falls just north of the equator, then loops to the North East before turning West, and finally alters course to the South to outlet into the Atlantic Ocean. The river drains some 1.6 million square miles of country, and when it exits into the Atlantic runs at the rate of 1.2 million cubic feet of water every second.

The river is a major highway in the area, carrying barges loaded with fuel, copper, wood, minerals, palm oil, and agricultural products. It is also Africa's greatest potential source of hydroelectric power, and the Inga Power project is the first to exploit this possibility.

The Congo traverses a rain forest that is second only to that of the Amazon. Some 4,000 islands dot the river within its banks, over its long journey down to the Atlanic Ocean, some up to 10 miles long.

The countries that the river passes through are: The Democratic Republic of Congo, The Peoples Republic of Congo, The Central African Republic, Zambia, Angola, Cameroon, and Tanzania.

On hearing the name Congo River, it summons up in my mind, Africa, Stanley and Livingstone, the mighty Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, the Dark Continent, and its history of Black Slavery.

Map of Congo River

Map of Congo River

 

Wooden canoes still in use for fishing on the Congo River

Wooden canoes still in use for fishing on the Congo River


Number 8. The Huang-Ho or Yellow River.

Length 2,700 miles. Location China. Empties into the Gulf of Chihli. The Yellow River, is the northern most of the major rivers in China's Yellow River basin. It is said to be the cradle of China's civilization, and covers three major regions, the upper, the middle, and the lower.

Source.
The Yellow River starts in the Bayankale Mountains which form the divide between this river in the North and the Yangtze to the South. The highest peak reaches up to 5,267 meters, and the river's source is a basin at the foot of these mountains, from here it drains two major lakes, Zaling and Eling, about 20 k's apart. The river flows eastwards, passing through a number of narrow gorges and then turns north. See the picture of Laxiwa Gorge.

Hydro electric Projects.
The upper reaches of the Yellow River provide electric power for the major industrial city of Lanzhou. It flows on through the Mongolian Plain and desert, to the middle reaches where its turns very muddy, as it drains the loess plateau, more and still more sediment is collected as it pushes through the gorge section between the provinces of Shanxi and Shaanxi.

In its lower reaches, the river is confined by levies lining its banks to prevent flooding. Every year 1.6 billion tons of sand are washed into the Yellow River, and this soil erosion causes great harm to all the people living within the reach of this great river. At its estuary, the river dumps a billion tons of sediment into Bohai Bay.

The Yellow River pasing through Laxiwa Gorge

The Yellow River pasing through Laxiwa Gorge

 

The Bayankala Mountians. The source of the Yellow River is a basin at the foot of these mountains.

The Bayankala Mountians. The source of the Yellow River is a basin at the foot of these mountains.

 

Eling lake in winter, shimmering with ice

Eling lake in winter, shimmering with ice

 

Hydro power works in Liujiaxia Gorge to suppy power to the city of Lanzhou

Hydro power works in Liujiaxia Gorge to suppy power to the city of Lanzhou

 

Terraces built over the Loess plateau

Terraces built over the Loess plateau

 

The river flows through Shanxi province on its right, and Shaanxi province on its left

The river flows through Shanxi province on its right, and Shaanxi province on its left

 

Levee banks at Kaifeng. Built to overcome the flooding prone to the Yellow River

Levee banks at Kaifeng. Built to overcome the flooding prone to the Yellow River

 

An ancient waterwheel in an area vastly eroded and in the category of wastelands, caused by past flooding of the Yellow River

An ancient waterwheel in an area vastly eroded and in the category of wastelands, caused by past flooding of the Yellow River


Number 9. The Lena River.

Length 2,645 miles. Location Russia. Empties into the Arctic. The Lena River is born in the mountains west of Lake Baikal, in south eastern Siberia, and to its mouth on the Laptev Sea in the Arctic it drains some 961,000 square miles. In late spring ice will block the flow of water in the Lena at its mouth, causing flooding across the Siberian Plains. Over the winter months the river remains virtually frozen over.

Home to wild life.
The river is home for a few months of the year to ducks, geese, sandpipers, terns and gulls.

Map of Lena River, Russia

Map of Lena River, Russia

 

Polygon Ponds at the Delta of the Lena River. Photograph by Hartmut Jungius

Polygon Ponds at the Delta of the Lena River. Photograph by Hartmut Jungius

 

 

Flooding on the Lena river. The Delta covered in ice shows as red, the River would normally show as a black line, with land areas dull green or tan.

Flooding on the Lena river. The Delta covered in ice shows as red, the River would normally show as a black line, with land areas dull green or tan.


Number 10. The Mackenzie River.
Length 2,365 miles. Location Canada. Empties into the Arctic. My namesake, the Mackenzie River just sneaks into the world's top 10 longest rivers. It rises from the Great Slave Lake and flows north and west all the way to Inuvik and the Beaufort Sea. This large river collects the flow from up to 100 mountain streams, and it drains 20% of all of Canada.

It was named after the early explorer Alexander Mackenzie who, in 1788 believed he was following a river route to the west coast, but it led to the Arctic ocean. The large delta provides a habitat for Snow Geese and Tundra swans, and many types of water fowl.

Map showing the Mackenzie River, flowing north to the Arctic

Map showing the Mackenzie River, flowing north to the Arctic

 

Snowgeese found on the Mackenzie River

Snowgeese found on the Mackenzie River

 

The Tundra Swan found on the Mackenzie River

The Tundra Swan found on the Mackenzie River

 

 


   

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