In all parts of the world, rivers are essential for many reasons. They provide drinking water, transport, fertilize the land, and a food source. Wildlife also benefits from waterways. Rainforests and wetlands depend on them for ecological processes. Here are some of the most famous rivers from around the world.
There are some terms in this article that you may be unfamiliar with.
- The “source” of a river is where it begins
- The “mouth” of a river is where it ends
- A tributary is a river or stream flowing into a larger river or lake
- Amazon River
- Amur River
- Blue Nile River
- Columbia River
- Congo River
- Danube River
- Dnieper River
- Euphrates River
- Ganges River
- Ghaghara River
- Godavari River
- Indus River
- Irrawaddy River
- Irtysh River
- Loire River
- Meuse River
- Mekong River
- Mississippi River
- Missouri River
- Murray River
- Niger River
- Nile River
- Ob River
- Ohio River
- Orinoco River
- Paraná River
- Rhine River
- Rhine-Main-Danube Canal
- Rhone River
- Rio Grande River
- River Shannon
- River Thames
- Saint Lawrence River
- Salween River
- Scheldt River
- Seine River
- Sepik River
- Sutlej River
- Tagus River
- Tigris River
- Ural River
- Volga River
- White Nile River
- Yamuna River
- Yangtze River
- Yellow River
- Yenisei River
- Yukon River
- Zambezi River
The Amazon River is in the South American continent. It originates in the Andes Mountains of Peru, travels through Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, and Venezuela before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.
As the world’s second-longest river, the Amazon is 4,086 miles (6400km) in length. At its shortest point, it measures .62 miles in width and 62 miles at its widest. The width of the river is directly affected by the monsoon season. Its depth is, on average, 328 feet.
The Amazon has more than 1,100 tributaries flowing into it, the major ones being the Mantaro River and the Apurimac River.
It has over 2,000 different fish species and is home to the largest snake globally, the green anaconda.
The Amazon River has no bridges to cross it and mainly runs through the Amazon Rainforest.
- A fun fact – in 2007, Martin Strel, a Slovenian long-distance swimmer, swam the length of the Amazon River.
The Amur River is found in the continent of Asia. It begins in the Argun River and forms the border between Russia and China, and flows into the Strait of Tartary.
It is 1,755 miles long, and its chief tributaries are the Sungari River and the Ussuri River, which form part of the Manchurian-Siberian border. It is the third-longest non-dammed river in the world. The Amazon and the Lena are first and second.
The Amur River is a large wildlife area for birds, especially the Oriental White Stork. This bird is white with black wing feathers. They have a wingspan of 7 feet, can be 50 inches tall, and their weight can be up to 13 lbs.
- A fun fact – Amur River Monster? Yes, also known as the Kaluga sturgeon, these animals grow to incredible sizes. They can weigh up to 2200 lbs. These predators have fueled rumors of monsters on the Amur River for a long time. They are aggressive, and there have been reports of them capsizing fishing boats and drowning fishermen. The river monster has been hunted to near extinction for its eggs, which are used in caviar. It is punishable by law to fish for them anywhere along the Amur.
Blue Nile River
The Blue Nile is also known as the Abay River in Ethiopia. It originates at Lake Tana in Ethiopia and then flows to Sudan. The mouth of the river is at Alexandria, where it empties into the Mediterranean Sea.
The river got its name from the Sudanese, who call everything dark in color “azraq” (blue). It is dark because of its turbid color due to the heavy silt it carries, compared to the White Nile that is clear in comparison.
In 2009, there was a pedestrian cable bridge built over the Blue Nile in Ethiopia. It is the only one in that country.
The Blue Nile is vital to the livelihood of the Egyptian people. Even though it is shorter than the White Nile, 56% of the water reaching Egypt originates from the great river’s Blue Nile branch.
- A fun fact – The Blue Nile and the White Nile merge near Khartoum, becoming the Nile proper.
The Columbia River is the largest in the Pacific Northwest area of North America. It flows through Oregon and Washington in the United States and Canada. The Columbia River is 1,243 miles long and receives more than sixty tributaries.
The four most significant tributaries are the Snake River in Idaho, the Willamette River in northwest Oregon, the Kootenay River in British Columbia, and the Pend Oreille River in northern Washington and Idaho.
The mouth of the Columbia is past Astoria, Oregon. Ships must navigate the treacherous Columbia Bar to enter or exit the river, making passage between the river and the Pacific Ocean difficult.
The Columbia River’s largest dam is the Grand Coulee Dam, which stands 500 feet tall.
Different First Nations people and Native Americans have a historical and continuing presence on the Columbia River.
- A fun fact – In 1792, a Boston trader named Robert Gray sailed up the Columbia and named it after his ship.
The Congo River, formerly known as the Zaire River, is the second-longest river in Africa, shorter than the Nile, which is the longest. It is the second-largest river in the world by discharge volume, following the Amazon. It is also the world’s deepest recorded river.
The Congo River is 2,920 miles long and flows through nine African countries. The entire Congo basin is populated by the Bantu peoples, which are divided into several hundred ethnic groups.
Several species of gorillas, elephants, chimpanzees are native to this area.
- A fun fact – The bonobo is an animal native to this area also. A bonobo is an endangered primate species similar to chimpanzees but is shorter, darker, and leaner. Today, there are only about 10,000 to 50,000 bonobos in the wild. These animals share 98.7% of the DNA with humans. The bonobo communities are more peaceful than chimpanzees and are led by females.
The Danube River is on the European continent. It begins in Germany’s Black Forest and ends at the Black Sea. The Danube flows through ten European countries and is the second-longest waterway after the River Volga in Russia.
Some of the major cities it flows through are Budapest, Vienna, and Belgrade.
It is 1,785 miles in length, at its widest point, there are 4,921 feet between each bank, and is 26 feet deep. The Danube has over 300 tributaries, only about 30 of them are navigable. About one-third of the Danube’s total length lies in Hungary. Its capital, Budapest, is called the “Queen of the Danube.”
The Danube supplies over ten million Europeans with drinking water.
- A fun fact – The Danube has inspired composers, writers, and artists over the centuries. The most famous work is the composition The Blue Danube, a musical piece composed by Johann Strauss II in 1866.
The Dnieper River is one of the significant rivers in Europe. It begins near Smolensk, Russia, then flows into the Black Sea. It is the longest river in Ukraine and Belarus and the fourth-longest river in Europe.
It is 1,423 miles long, with 300 miles within Russia, 430 miles within Belarus, and 680 miles within Ukraine. It is an important navigable waterway for the economy of Ukraine. It is connected to other channels in Europe via the Dnieper-Bug Canal.
In ancient times, the river was known to the Greeks as the Borysthenes River and part of the Amber Road. The Amber Road was an ancient trade route for the transfer of amber from coastal areas of the North Sea and Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.
- A fun fact – Because of its immense length, the Dnieper River has as many as 32,000 tributaries.
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically significant rivers in western Asia. Along with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia.
It is 1,740 miles long, flows through western and central Iraq, and with the Tigris River continues to the Persian Gulf. The Euphrates and Tigris both have a shallow depth of 6.5 feet to 13 feet in some places. When the river floods, it can become 21 feet deep.
The Euphrates is essential for its water supply. The river has become a source of political tension, as Iraq, Turkey, and Syria all compete for its use. The water is needed for irrigation and the generation of hydroelectric power.
- A fun fact – According to the Bible, in Genesis 2:14, the Euphrates is one of the four rivers that flow from the Garden of Eden. The other three rivers are the Pishon, the Gihon, and the Tigris.
The Ganges River flows through India and Bangladesh and is one of the most polluted bodies of water on the planet. Its source is the Western Himalayas and empties to the Bay of Bengal.
It is the longest river in India, measuring 1,680 miles long, 52 feet in width, and 100 feet deep.
An estimated 400 million people live near the Ganges River and face the threat of the polluting effects caused by plastic materials, factory waste, and sewage discharge.
Medical professionals and environmentalists confirm the presence of fecal coliform bacteria in the water. It is highly dangerous to humans’ health and puts thousands of people at risk who bathe or drink its water. The river has a thousand times more fecal coliform than what is considered safe.
Despite the river’s polluted condition, there are 140 species of fish and 90 amphibian species living within its waters.
- A fun fact – the Ganges River is sacred to the Hindus because they believe it originated from the “nectar of the gods,” providing immortality.
The Ghaghara River (also called the “Karnali”) is a transboundary river starting on the Tibetan Plateau. It goes through the Himalayas in Nepal till it meets the Sharda River in Brahmaghat, India. Then they form the Ghaghara River, a left-bank tributary of the Ganges River.
It is 670 miles long, with 55% of the river flowing through Nepal and 45% flowing in India. This river has nine tributaries.
Many national parks have been built along the Ghaghara. The Shey Phoksundo National Park in Dopa, built-in 1984, is situated in the Himalayan area in NW Nepal. The lush woods consist of blue pine, poplar, spruce, fir, cypress, and birch, which provide the habitat for the uncommon snow panther and blue sheep.
Many winged animals also inhabit this area, such as the Impeyan bird, cheer bird, blood fowl, red and yellow charged hack, and many more. This park is recognized as a religious Buddhist site.
- A fun fact – The literal meaning of the river’s name is “holy water from the sacred mountain.”
The Godavari is the second-longest river in India after the Ganga. The river’s source is the Brahmaqiri Mountain, Tryambakeshwar, Nashik, Maharashtra, India, and flows into the Bay of Bengal.
The river flows through west and south India and covers 120,777 square miles, one-tenth of India’s area. This is greater than the areas of Ireland and England combined. The Godavari River has seven major tributaries.
The river is sacred to the Hindus, and along its banks’ pilgrimages have been made for thousands of years. Vast numbers of people have bathed in the river as a rite of cleansing. Every twelve years, a fair is held on the banks of the river in Pushkaram.
- A fun fact – The Coringa mangrove forests in the Godavari delta are the second largest mangrove formation in the country and have been declared the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary. It is renowned for its reptiles and provides essential habitat for various fish and crustaceans. The forest protects the nearby villages by acting as a barrier against cyclones and tropical storms.
The Indus River is one of the main rivers in the Indian subcontinent, flowing through western Tibet, India, and Pakistan.
The Indus is 1,976 miles long. The source of the river is the Tibetan plateau, and it flows into the Arabian Sea.
This river is the most crucial water resource supplier for the Sindh and Punjab plains, forming the backbone of food production and agriculture in Pakistan.
Rainfall is meager in the lower Indus Valley, making the river especially important.
Evidence suggests that India and Pakistan’s Indus Valley civilization, well known for its cities and impressive crafts, predates Mesopotamia and Egypt. Considered one of the oldest civilizations globally, experts believe it is 8,000 years old, 2,500 years older than once thought.
- A fun fact – Indus River dolphins are thought to have originated in the Tethys Sea. When it dried up 50 million years ago, the dolphins were forced to adapt to the only remaining habitat: rivers. Today they can be found in the lower parts of the Indus and the River Beas, an Indus tributary.
The Irrawaddy River flows north to south through Burma (Myanmar). It is the country’s longest river and most important commercial waterway. Its source is the N’mai and Mali Rivers and flows straight north-south prior to emptying through the Irrawaddy Delta into the Andaman Sea.
It is 1,370 miles long and was used for trade and transport as early as the sixth century.
Because of an extensive irrigation canals system, the river became important to the British Empire after it colonized Burma. It is still important today as a significant amount of goods and traffic moves by the river.
Rice is produced in the Irrawaddy Delta, which is irrigated by water from the river.
- A fun fact – The endangered Irrawaddy dolphin and critically endangered Ganges Shark have been dangerously impacted by the seven hydroelectric dams that were built by Myanmar’s military dictatorship. Environmental groups have voiced concerns about the ecological impact this has had on the river’s biodiverse ecosystem.
The Irtysh River flows through three countries, Russia, China, and Kazakhstan. It rises from the glacier of the southwestern slopes of the Altai Mountains in northwestern China. It then flows west across the Chinese border, then northwest across Kazakhstan, with the mouth at the Ob River.
It is 2,640 miles long, 22 miles in width, and at 138 feet deep, it is the world’s deepest lock, allowing river traffic to bypass the dam at Ust-Kamenogorsk.
The Irtysh River has 19 tributaries, the principal being the Ob River. Together they constitute the seventh most extended river system in the world.
From April to October, the Irtysh is an active route for transporting goods into and out of this part of the world. It is used for crop irrigation, creates hydroelectric power, and supplies millions of homes with drinking water.
- A fun fact – The Irtysh is home to important fish species such as sturgeon, pikeperch, roach, burbot, and tschirner. Living along the river are minks, elks, foxes, wolves, and Siberian moles.
The Loire River is the longest in France.
It is 625 miles long, with its source at Mont Gerbier de Jo, and flowing into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Loire Valley along the river is referred to as the “Garden of France” because of its abundant orchards, vineyards, agriculture, and incredible beauty.
The Loire Valley has several famous chateaux: Chenonceau, Chambord, Chaumont, and Cheverny, all a couple of hours from Paris by train or car.
In earlier times, the Loire Valley, with its fortresses, had nobility following the king to the region and needed residences or fortresses, so additional castles were built along the river valley.
It was formerly navigated upstream as far as LaNoirie, but its intense flow makes it the least navigable of all the major rivers in France.
- A fun fact – The Chateau de Chambord is the biggest and most visited castle in the Loire Valley, with more than 700,000 visitors per year.
The Meuse River is a major river on the European continent, which begins in France, and flows through Belgium and the Netherlands before draining into the North Sea.
The length of the Meuse River is 575 miles, but the canals can only be used by the smallest commercial barges, which are 131 feet long and 6 feet wide.
The Meuse is navigable over most of its length and is crossed by six railway bridges, numerous road bridges, and 32 ferry crossings.
In Belgium and the Netherlands, the river is part of the significant inland navigation infrastructure connecting the Rotterdam-Amsterdam-Antwerp port cities to the industrial areas upstream.
The Meuse River is considered the oldest river in Europe, and from 1301, the Meuse in the Netherlands was the western border of the Holy Roman Empire.
- A fun fact – The Cretaceous sea reptile Mosasaur is named for the river Meuse. The first fossils of the creature were discovered in 1780 outside of Maastricht.
Cutting through Southeast Asia’s heart, the Mekong River flows through six countries, China, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.
The length of the Mekong River is 2,703 miles. It is the world’s 12th longest river and the seventh longest in the continent of Asia. Its source is in the Tibetan plateau, flowing through the Tibet and Yunnan area of China. It forms boundaries between Laos and Burma, and Laos and Thailand. It continues through Cambodia and the Mekong basin before draining into the South China Sea.
The Tibetan Himalayas feed the Mekong River with melting snow that straddles multiple borders.
The Mekong River has many different names. In China, its name translates into “turbulent river.” In Vietnam, it is known as “nine dragons.” Each country has a different name for the river, which proves the profound impact it has had on the diverse cultures and ethnic groups in its reach.
- A fun fact – Following the Amazon River, the Mekong is the second most biologically diverse river in the world, as it is home to the Irrawaddy River Dolphin.
The Mississippi River is on the North American continent. It begins at Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota and ends in the Gulf of Mexico. It flows through ten different states in America.
It is 2,320 miles long, at its widest point, is more than 11 miles wide, and is 200 feet deep at its deepest point. It is North America’s second-longest river and the world’s fourth longest.
Some of the major cities it flows through are Minneapolis, St. Paul, Memphis, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Davenport.
Its water holds an estimated 375 different types of fish.
- A fun fact – the River flows so fast that its average flow rate could fill more than six Olympic-sized swimming pools in one second!
- The travel time from its source in Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico is three months. Water flows between 1.2 and 3 miles per hour.
As North America’s longest river, the Missouri begins in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana and flows 2,341 miles before emptying into the Mississippi River in Missouri. It is two miles wide and 10-20 feet deep.
For many generations, people believed that the Missouri River linked the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. This link became known as the Northwest Passage.
However, Lewis and Clark, during their expedition, proved the Northwest Passage did not exist. More than 100 historic sites sit along the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail, a landmark named after them.
The name Missouri comes from the Missouri tribe name, meaning “people with wooden canoes.”
For over 12,000 years, man has relied on the Missouri River and its tributaries for transportation and food. It is the world’s 15th longest river.
- A fun fact – The Missouri River becomes the world’s fourth longest river system when combined with the lower Mississippi River.
The Murray River is located in southeastern Australia. It is the longest river in Australia, and its tributaries include five of the six longest rivers in the country.
The river is 1,558 miles long and has its source in the Australian Alps. It flows into the Murray Mouth Lookout, then to the Southern Ocean.
There is currently a 12-year drought, the worst since 1902 in the Murray-Darling Basin. The basin is regulated using a system of locks, dams, and weirs to control flow rates. The Murray River is so water-starved that it does not reach the ocean 40% of the time.
Due to the strong currents in certain parts of the river, which are considered dangerous, caution is recommended. If in or around the water, life jackets are suggested.
- A fun fact – A freshwater crocodile was found in the Murray River near the New South Wales border, thousands of miles from its home. Swimmers beware!
The Niger River is the principal river in West Africa and runs through five countries, Benin, Guinea, Nigeria, Niger, and Mali. The river has nine different names depending on where in the continent you are.
The Niger River is 2,597 miles in length, has an average width of 800 feet, and is 100 feet deep in some places.
The Niger River has six tributaries. Its source is in the highlands of Guinea. It then passes through Mali, Nigeria, and Niger, then flows into the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Niger River is a clear river carrying one-tenth as much sediment as the Nile River. This is because of the headwaters, which are in ancient rocks that provide little silt.
Like the Nile River, the Niger floods yearly starting in September, peaking in November, and ending in May.
- A fun fact – the modern countries of Nigeria and Niger take their names from this river.
The Nile River, on the African continent, is the longest in the world. However, this fact is disputed by a group of Brazilian scientists who claim the Amazon River is longer than the Nile.
It flows through 11 African countries. It rises south of the Equator, flowing north through northeastern Africa, then drains into the Mediterranean Sea.
It measures 4,130 miles long, at its widest point, is 1.7 miles wide, and has an average depth of 26 to 36 feet.
The Nile River is formed by its two major tributaries, the White Nile and the Blue Nile. The Nile played a significant role in the construction of the pyramids. The ancient Egyptians depended on the Nile for transportation, drinking water, and commerce.
The water availability year-round from the Nile and the high temperatures in the area makes possible intense cultivation along the river possible.
- A fun fact – The Nile crocodile is said to kill thousands of people yearly and is found in the river’s southern stretches.
The Ob River is a major Russian river located in western Siberia. It begins at the confluence (where two rivers come together) of the Biya River and the Katun River, which originate in the Altay Mountains. It then flows into the Arctic Ocean. The Irtysh River is the Ob’s main tributary.
The Ob River serves as a main navigable waterway, facilitating cargo transport from Russia’s interiors to significant cities and prime trade centers.
Industrial goods and agricultural products imported and exported are traded along this waterway.
Wildlife is extremely abundant along the Ob River. There are bears, lynx, Siberian stags, snow leopards, wolverine, and many other mammals near the shore.
Sea eagles, ducks, gulls, and other waterfowl species live on or very close to the Ob River.
- Not necessarily a fun fact – The Ob River suffers from radioactive pollution due to the power plants operating in Russia. Improper management of the Mayak Nuclear Facility has caused the dumping of harmful quantities of nuclear waste from the plant into the Techa River’s waters, an Ob River tributary.
The Ohio River is located in the Midwest and the southern United States. It flows southwesterly from western Pennsylvania, south of Lake Erie, to its mouth on the Mississippi River at the southern tip of Illinois.
It is 981 miles long and varies in depth from three feet to 168 feet, depending on rainfall. It flows through Pittsburgh.
Swimming in the Ohio River poses apparent risks. River currents, floating or submerged debris, commercial and recreational traffic make it hazardous. Also, the quality of the water could pose possible health risks to humans.
As recently as 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) named the Ohio River one of the country’s most polluted rivers. Industrial contaminants, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), have been detected on long stretches of the river, causing toxic algal blooms to erupt when conditions are right.
- A fun fact – Bull sharks have gone up the Ohio River as far as Manchester, Ohio.
In the South American continent, the Orinoco River has its source in the Parima Mountains, flowing into the Atlantic Ocean.
It is one of South America’s longest rivers, at 1,398 miles. Seventy-six percent of the river flows through Venezuela and the remainder through Colombia.
The Orinoco River flows like a giant arc through rainforest, grassland, flooded forests, and has a delta at its start. The main tributary is the Apure River.
The river has supported the traditional way of life for the Piaroa people for thousands of years, with the men fishing and the women growing vegetables.
On August 1, 1498, Christopher Columbus recorded the Orinoco River’s mouth during his third. It would be 453 years before non-indigenous people explored the Orinoco River.
- A fun fact – With fewer than 250 living in the wild, the Orinoco River is home to one of the world’s rarest reptiles – the Orinoco crocodile.
This is the second-longest river on the South American continent. Its source is in Rio Paranaiba, Minas Gerais, Brazil, and empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
It is 3,030 miles long, just under two miles wide, and one mile deep.
The Paraná flows through Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. The Paraná River and its tributaries supply an income and food source for the fisherman living along its shores.
It serves as a waterway linking inland cities in Argentina and Paraguay with the ocean. The name Paraná means “like the sea” and comes from the Tupi language.
Together with its tributaries, the Paraná forms a massive drainage basin that encompasses all Paraguay, southern Brazil, northern Argentina, and Bolivia’s southeastern part.
- A fun fact – The first European to travel the Paraná River was the Venetian explorer, Sebastian Cabot, while he was working for Spain in the year 1526.
The Rhine is the second-longest river in Central and Western Europe. It begins in the Swiss Alps and empties into the North Sea, flowing in a northern direction through Germany and the Netherlands.
It flows through Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, and Luxembourg. It is 760 miles long, 8 feet deep, and ½ mile wide.
The Rhine River is one of the world’s most critical waterways, as it is home to manufacturing one-fifth of the world’s chemicals. People also use the Rhine River to import and export materials, but it cannot be a drinking water source due to the chemical spill which happened in 1986.
Together the Danube and Rhine form most of the northern inland frontier of the Roman Empire. The many castles along the Rhine testify to how important it is. Many tourists take a River Rhine cruise each year.
- A fun fact – About 6,000 toxic materials have been found in its waters.
The Rhine-Main-Danube Canal is in Bavaria, Germany. It connects the Main and the Danube Rivers across the European watershed from Bamberg to Nuremberg to Kelheim.
Charlemagne, twelve hundred years ago, dreamed of connecting the Rhine, Main, and the Danube into one waterway between the Black Sea and the North Sea. His dream was realized in 1992.
The canal is 106 miles long. It permits traffic to flow between the North Sea and the Black Sea, creating a 2,200-mile waterway that runs through 15 countries and can accommodate barges carrying up to 2,425 tons of bulk cargo.
The canal serves as a German sign of unity in Europe. Rather than a simple reconstruction of the locks damaged during WWII, plans were drawn up for a lock system that would permanently unite the rivers and allow ships to travel uninterrupted from Amsterdam to the Black Sea.
- A fun fact – River cruising has become a favorite vacation for people since the 1990s. Because of the canal, cruise passengers can travel uninterrupted from the Netherlands to Romania.
The Rhone River is one of the major rivers in Europe. Its source is the Rhone Glacier in the Swiss Alps, passes through Lake Geneva, runs through southeastern France, and flows into the Mediterranean Sea.
It is 505 miles long and flows through Lyon, Sierre, Avignon, Sion, Vienne, Geneva, and Arles. The Rhone River has six tributaries.
The river provides tourists with the pleasure of a cruise along its waters, through the Beaujolais wine region, quaint Provencal villages, and historical Avignon and Arles. A cruise along the Rhone River is a terrific vacation.
This area has been an inspiration to artists for hundreds of years. It is blanketed in lavender and sunflower fields, beautiful in the summer months.
There are 12 cities along the Rhone River with populations of 100,000 or more.
- A fun fact – The painting “Starry Night Over the Rhone” was painted by Vincent van Gogh in Arles, France, in 1888.
Rio Grande River
The Rio Grande is one of the main rivers in the southwest United States and northern Mexico. The source is in south-central Colorado in the United States and flows through Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico before flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Rio Grande serves as a natural border between Texas and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, and Coahuila.
The river is not a vital trade route but is very important for irrigation in the arid southwest. Water from the river supports commercially important citrus and truck farms in Texas and Mexico’s Rio Grande Valley.
Swimming and walking in the Rio Grande River is dangerous. It is difficult to tell how fast the river is moving. When the water moves quickly, it can knock someone down and take the person along with it.
- A fun fact – There is quicksand in the Rio Grande where you can sink. If you get stuck in the sand, it can result in drowning.
The River Shannon is the longest river in the Republic of Ireland. The Shannon divides the west of Ireland from the east and south and flows through Limerick and Dowra. Its main tributaries are the rivers Inny, Maigue, Fergus, Brosna, and Suck.
It is 224 miles long, rises in the northwestern county of Cavan, flows 161 miles in a southern direction to enter the Atlantic Ocean via a 70-mile estuary below Limerick City.
The Shannon holds a wide variety of fish, including trout, salmon, and pike. However, fishing for these is limited on the main channel, and much better fishing is found in the tributaries.
The river is not only historic and vital in Ireland, but a popular tourist destination as well. Fishing, boating holidays, water sports, and the breathtaking scenery attracts people to its shores.
- A fun fact – The River Shannon means “wise river.” It was named after the granddaughter of a sea deity in Celtic mythology.
A large English waterway, the Thames flows through London, Oxford, Windsor, Reading, and Henley-on-Thames. It is 215 miles long, and it is 18 miles wide at the widest point. As the water’s depth is always changing, it is difficult to state the water’s depth, as high and low tides are not consistent.
The last time the River Thames was frozen was in 1814. Up to that time, it allowed for entertainment for the citizens. Ice bowling was very popular at that time on the frozen Thames.
During the 18th century, the Thames was one of the world’s busiest waterways. However, tragedy struck on the Thames on September 3, 1878. The overcrowded pleasure boat Princess Alice collided with the Bywell Castle. It was one of the worst river disasters in England, with 640 people perishing in the collision.
- A fun fact – London Bridge originally crossed the River Thames. It was from this fact that the nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down” came from.
Saint Lawrence River
The Saint Lawrence River is in the middle latitudes of the North American continent. Its source is Lake Ontario, and it flows into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, then into the Atlantic Ocean.
It is 743 miles long and flows roughly in a north-easterly direction, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean.
It flows through the cities of Montreal, Quebec City, Trois-Rivieres, Cornwall, Ogdensburg, and Brockville.
The St. Lawrence River Valley is filled with wildlife throughout the year. It is the habitat of several threatened and endangered animals, such as the Indiana bat, black tern, osprey, Blanding’s Turtle, and bald eagles.
- A fun fact – At the beginning of July 2020, a famous white shark named Brunswick made a ceremonious return to Canadian waters. Now a second shark has been seen in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. An ocean research group began reporting the presence of the second shark in mid-July.
The Salween River is known as the “Nu” River in China. It is 1,749 miles long and flows from Tibet into the Andaman Sea in Asia. It runs through China, Burma, and Thailand.
The upper regions of the Salween in China, where it runs parallel to the Mekong and Yangtze Rivers, is thought to be one of the most biologically diverse and temperate ecosystems on earth.
The river and its valley support 140 different fish species, 7,000 species of plants, 15 various types of turtles, and 80 endangered species.
The Salween is the longest undammed river in Southeast Asia. From its headwaters in Tibet to the estuary in Myanmar, it is wild and untouched.
- A fun fact – The people that live on the Salween River are virtually isolated from the rest of the world. It is navigable for 56 miles from the river’s mouth and only during the rainy season.
The Scheldt River flows through northern France, western Belgium, and the southwestern part of the Netherlands, with its mouth at the North Sea.
It is 224 miles long and runs through Antwerp, Valenciennes, Tournai, and Ghent.
The Lower Rhine and the Meuse Rivers drain one of the world’s most densely populated areas. It has numerous canals and navigable tributaries and serves the agriculturally important Flanders Plain, the Belgian textile centers, the industrial complex of Lille-Roubaix-Tourcoing, and the coalfields of northern France.
The Schelde River’s busiest section is between Antwerp and Ghent, where there are many industrial sites.
- A fun fact – The Battle of the Scheldt in WWII was a series of operations led by the First Canadian Army. There were Polish and British units attached, along with the Canadians, to open up the shipping route to Antwerp so its port could be used to supply the Allies in northwest Europe.
The Seine River is 482 miles long and flows through northern France. Its source is northwest of Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flows through Paris and into the English Channel at LeHavre.
The Seine supplies half of the water used in Paris. The river is thought to be polluted with E. coli bacteria, natural pollutants, intestinal bacteria, and fecal matter. But this is changing, and over the next five years, the Seine will undergo an epic €1 billion cleanup.
As the cleanup effort continues, the water quality improves. The Seine now supports 37 species of fish, with the eel being one the largest, reaching lengths of four feet. But they would have been dwarfed by the enormous sturgeons that had once called the river home.
- A fun fact – The Seine River has been the focus of many paintings by famous impressionists such as Renoir’s Seine River and Monet’s Bathers at LaGrenouillere.
The Sepik River is located in New Guinea, on the Australian continent. It has five tributaries.
It is 700 miles in length, more than one mile wide, and has a depth of only three and a half feet.
The Sepik forms at the Victor Emanuel Range in Papua’s central highlands and flows straight into the Bismark Sea, winding in a serpentine fashion. The river is thought to be the most uncontaminated freshwater wetland system in the Asia-Pacific area.
It was thought that the river tribes had little or no contact with the modern world, but that is not the case. One adventurer who traveled the river said that exploring the Sepik is one of the last great adventures on earth.
- A fun fact – Cannibalism was common at one time along the Sepik River region but has not been practiced for many, many years. Due to the influence of missionaries, the Sepik River villagers are Christians today. However, many still have a strong superstitious belief, practicing their old customs today.
The Sutlej River is the longest of the five rivers that run through the Punjab region in northern India and Pakistan. The Sutlej is also known as Satadree.
It is 901 miles long and the easternmost tributary of the Indus River. Its source is Mount Kailash, Lake Rakshastal in Tibet, with the mouth at the Chenab River, the Arabian Sea, and the Panjnad River.
The waters of the Sutlej, the Beas, and the Ravi Rivers are allocated to India under the Indus Waters Treaty between Pakistan and India. The Sutlej is a swift-moving river used for power generation in the region.
The river played a primary role in Hamirpur and Bilaspur’s timber trade, as they used it to transport logs of deodar cedar from one location to another.
- A fun fact – The Sutlej valley is inhabited by nomads, who are primarily herders of yak, and thought to be the descendants of Zhangzhung, an ancient culture of western and northwestern Tibet.
The Tagus River is the longest in the Iberian Peninsula. It flows through mid-eastern Spain, generally west. The mouth of the river culminates at a major port, which is the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.
It is 625 miles long, with only the lower portion of the river used for navigation. The Tagus flows through semiarid land, with government efforts increased for land irrigation and creating hydroelectric power on the Tagus and its tributaries.
The mouth of the river culminates at a major port, which is the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. The Tagus River has 14 tributaries.
There have been efforts to reforest the land surrounding the Tagus. Animal life near the river is abundant and varied, having both North African and European species. Carp, luces, black bass, trout, and barbels are plentiful, which makes fishing suitable.
- A fun fact – When the Romans arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, centuries ago, they noted that the Tagus River was composed of one-third fish and two-thirds of water.
The Tigris River flows through Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Its source is at Hazar Lake, then flows south from the Armenian Highlands, through the Arabian and Syrian deserts, then empties into the Persian Gulf.
Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, is on the banks of the Tigris River.
It measures 1,150 miles in length, at its widest point, is 1,300 feet wide, and the depth varies between 4 ½ feet to 26 feet during the flooding season.
The name Tigris is Greek in origin and has nine tributaries.
- A fun fact – The Tigris is mentioned twice in the Old Testament of the Bible. The first time, in the Book of Genesis, it notes that it is one of four rivers flowing out of the Garden of Eden. The second time in the Book of Daniel, he states that one of his visions came to him while he was by the great river Tigris.
The Ural River is part of the boundary between the continents of Europe and Asia. After the Volga and the Danube is the third-longest river in Europe.
It is 1,509 miles long, has an average width of 200 to 260 feet, and the average depth is three to five feet at the source and increased near the mouth.
The Ural River source is the Ural Mountains in Russia, and the mouth is at the Caspian Sea. The river has 13 tributaries.
Forty-eight different animal species are found In the delta of the river. Most common are rodents and predators. The reptiles inhabiting the river are bog turtles, water snakes, and lizards. The amphibians common to the area are the green frog and lake frog.
- A fun fact – The bridge over the Ural River at Orenburg has “Europe” carved on one side and “Asia” engraved on the other side.
The Volga River is known as Russia’s national river and is known as Mother Volga. It has its source in the Valdai Hills, 200 miles from St. Petersburg, and flows into the Caspian Sea. The Volga has approximately 200 tributaries.
As the longest river in Europe, it is 2,294 miles long. In places, it is so wide you cannot see the other side. Some of the world’s largest reservoirs are found along the banks of the Volga.
This Russian river is vital to the economy of the country. Power stations at the reservoirs use the river to produce electricity.
The maximum size vessel allowed on the Volga is 463 feet long, 55 feet wide, and 12 feet deep.
- A fun fact – The Volga gets about 60% of its water from melting snow, even though most of the river’s length freezes three months out of each year. The rest of the water comes from rainfall and underground sources.
White Nile River
The White Nile is a river in Africa, one of two main tributaries of the Nile River. The other tributary is the Blue Nile.
The White Nile is 2,280 miles long and runs through the African countries of Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, and South Sudan.
The White Nile begins at Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake. The river has many feeder rivers coming into it from the surrounding mountains. The White Nile is very flat in terrain, therefore loses over half of its water to evaporation.,
Upstream from both rivers, residents in the region mostly rely on rain for farming. Most of the water extraction occurs in Sudan and Egypt, where rainfall is too sparse to support the growing of crops. More than 120 million people rely upon the Nile waters for irrigation and other uses.
- A fun fact – The White Nile is so named because of the water’s coloring, which is due to the presence of clay in the water.
The Yamuna River is the second-largest tributary river of the Ganges River and the longest tributary in India. The river flows through Mathura and is 855 miles long.
It is the principal source of water for Delhi and one of the country’s most polluted rivers. Nineteen drains flow into the river at the capital, contributing to 96% of the total pollutants, with only 5% of the sewage that flows into the river being treated. A very serious health hazard exists.
The Yamuna, like the Ganges, is sacred to Hindu believers. Garlands are dangled from the girders of bridges, and they throw ashes and money from its railings in sacrifice.
- A fun fact – the Yamuna River flows through Agra City, famous for the white marble wonder, the TajMahal.
The word “Yangtze” means “long river” in Chinese. It is the third-longest river in the world after the Amazon and Nile.
It is 3,915 miles long, widens from between 1,000 and 1,300 feet, and exceeds 30 feet in depth. This river has over 700 tributaries, and for several hundreds of years, has been an important transportation route in China.
It is unfortunate, but the Chinese people have used the river as a garbage dump for sewage and factory waste. In 2001, approximately 23.4 billion tons of garbage was dumped into the Yangtze. Not only does it threaten the ecosystem, but it makes using it for food ingredients and water sources hazardous.
In the first half of the 20th century, the river stood as a main geographic barrier dividing northern and southern China.
- A fun fact – The Yangtze River is the only river on the planet to flow entirely within one country – China.
The Yellow River, or otherwise known as Huang He, is the second-longest river in China at 3,395 miles long. It is the world’s sixth-longest river system.
The Yellow River source is the Bohai Sea, and its mouth is the Bayan Har Mountains.
Every year, over 1.6 billion tons of soil flow into the Yellow River. This causes the continual rise and shift of the riverbed. Before damming is was very prone to flooding, causing millions of deaths, and one episode became the deadliest disaster in human history.
- A fun fact – In 2,540 years, from 595 BC to 1946 AD, the Yellow River has thought to have flooded 1,593 times, resulting in its course shifting 26 times noticeably and nine times severely.
The Yenisei River is the fifth-longest river system globally and the largest to drain into the Arctic Ocean. It is 2,167 miles in length and has 24 tributaries flowing into it.
It flows through Russia and Mongolia.
The Taimyr reindeer herd, the largest in the world, migrate to grazing ranges along the Yenisei during the winter. The Yenesei basin is home to 55 native fish species, mostly northern pike, salmon, perch, and carp. Also found are trout, charr, whitefish, graylings, and sturgeon.
The river is an excellent hydroelectric power source, with a huge oil refinery 30 miles downstream from Irkutsk on the Angara, the longest tributary or minor river flowing in the Yenisei.
- A fun fact – Imperial Russia had river steamers placed on the massive river attempting communication with Siberia. One steamer took the future Tsar Nicholas II on his voyage to Siberia and later took Vladimir Lenin to prison.
The Yukon River lies in northwestern North America. The river’s source is in British Columbia, Canada, from which it flows through the Canadian Yukon Territory. The lower half of the river lies in the state of Alaska.
It is 1,982 miles long, with its source at Atlin Lake (the northwest corner of British Columbia) and the mouth at the Bering Sea.
The cities it flows through are Whitehorse, Tanana, Nulato, Galena, Emmonak, and Ruby.
A popular place for a riverside stroll in Whitehorse has a fatal history. Many of those who stroll near the Yukon River intake section don’t realize it is a dangerous area to walk due to the dangerous undertow and strong currents.
- A fun fact – Temperatures of -50F or lower are expected during the cold spells from late October, when ice begins to flow, to March. Winter is the dominant season in this region.
The Zambezi River is known as the “River of Life.” It plays a vital role in the survival of the local inhabitants living in eastern Africa. The people of this area believe the river offers protection, offering sacrifices to the river.
The Zambezi is 1,900 feet in length, 43 feet wide, and has a maximum water depth of 420 feet. It is the fourth-longest river in Africa and the longest east-flowing river on the continent, after the Nile, Congo, and Niger Rivers.
The source of the river is in western Zambia and flows into the Indian Ocean.
The Zambezi flows through six African countries. It is home to the beautiful Victoria Falls, which provides the ideal location for white-water rafting, kayaking, fishing, and other water-based activities.
- A fun fact – Before any possible flooding, the people of this region, being very superstitious, will perform a ceremony known as the “Kuo-Mboka” then move to higher ground.