Interesting facts about rivers


A river is a large natural stream of water flowing in a channel to the sea, a lake, or another river.

Rivers normally contain freshwater.

Rivers are found on every continent and on nearly every kind of land.

A river begins at a source (or more often several sources), follows a path called a course, and ends at a mouth or mouths.

The passage where the river flows is called the river bed and the earth on each side is called a river bank.

The movement of water in a river is called a current. The current is usually strongest near the river’s source.

Rivers can flow down mountains, through valleys or along plains, and can create canyons or gorges.


Some flow all year round. Others flow seasonally or during wet years.

A river may be only kilometers long, or it may span much of a continent.

The Nile River, located in Africa, is listed as being 6,853 kilometers (4,258 miles) long, and is hence commonly considered to be the longest river in the world. This river and its water resources are shared by eleven countries – Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South SudanSudan and Egypt.

river nile

The second longest river in the world is the Amazon River, it reaches around 6400 kilometers in length (4000 miles). The Amazon River is the largest river by discharge volume of water – greater than the next seven largest independent rivers combined. It is also the widest river in the world, while not in flood, the main stretches can reach widths of up to 11 km (7 miles) at its widest points. The Amazon River originates from the Andes in the Peru and runs through Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil.

amazon river

The Yangtze River is the third longest river in the world running 6,300 kilometers (3915 miles). The river is the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. Rising in Tanggula Mountain, it flows eastwards and pours itself into the East China Sea.

yangtze river

The Missouri River is the longest river in North America. Rising in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, the Missouri flows east and south for 3,767 kilometers (2,341 miles) before entering the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, Missouri. The Missouri River is the world’s 15th-longest river.

missouri river

The longest river in Europe is the Volga. It flows approximately 3,685 kilometers (2,290 miles) across Russia and empties into the Caspian Sea. It is also Europe’s largest river in terms of discharge.


The Congo River is the world’s deepest river with measured depths in excess of 220 meters (720 feet). It is the second longest river in Africa after the Nile and the second largest river in the world by discharge volume of water (after the Amazon).

congo river

The Onyx River is an Antarctic meltwater stream which flows westward through the Wright Valley from Wright Lower Glacier and Lake Brownworth at the foot of the glacier to Lake Vanda, during the few months of the Antarctic summer. Despite being only 32 kilometers (20 mi) in length it is the longest river in Antarctica.

onyx river

Rio Negro is a river located in South America. It is a unique river for its unusual color – black. Rio Negro or Black River is the largest left tributary of the Amazon river. Rio Negro is also recognized as the world’s largest blackwater river. Although it was named Black River, its waters are not totally black. It can be compared to the color of a strong tea. When viewed from afar, Rio Negro looks black.

rio negro

Ganges River is regarded as a unique river and one of the most historically significant rivers in the world. It is considered a Holy River, in fact the holiest, amongst members of the Indian religion – Hinduism. The 2,525 kilometers (1,569 mi) river is worshiped as the Goddess Ganga. The river has been declared as the National River of India.

river ganges

The Jordan River is a 251-kilometer (156 mi)-long river in the Middle East that flows to the Dead Sea. The river has a major significance in Judaism and Christianity. This is the site where the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land and where Jesus of Nazareth was baptised by John the Baptist.

jordan river

Caño Cristales is a Colombian river. The river is commonly called the “River of Five Colors” or the “Liquid Rainbow”, and is even referred to as the most beautiful river in the world due to its striking colors. The bed of river in the end of July through November is variously colored yellow, green, blue, black, and especially red, the last caused by a picky endemic aquatic plant called Macarenia clavigera on the bottom of the river.

caño cristales river of five colors

Rivers and their tributaries are the veins of the planet, pumping freshwater to wetlands and lakes and out to sea.

Rivers have always been important to people. In prehistoric times, people settled along the banks of rivers, where they found fish to eat and water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

Rivers are the cradles of civilization. All the major civilizations such as the Mesopotamian, Indus Valley, the Egyptian and the Chinese civilizations have developed on the banks of rivers.

Centuries later, rivers provided routes for trade, exploration, and settlement.

Rivers continue to provide transportation routes, water for drinking and for irrigating farmland, and power for homes and industries.


There are 18 countries that don’t have a single river.

Bangladesh, known as “the land of the rivers” with over 700 Rivers.

Russia has more rivers than any other country. Britannica says it has around 100 000 rivers.

The oldest river in the United States is actually named the New River. It runs through North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Each year, hundreds of fireballs spontaneously explode out of Thailand’s Mekong River. Known as “bung fai paya nak” or “Naga fireballs,” they have appeared on the “late autumn night of the full moon at the end of the Buddhist Lent for as long as anyone can remember,” according to a 2002 Time magazine story about the phenomenon. Some believe the balls come from the breath of Naga, a mythical serpent that haunts the river. Others believe the fireballs are actually pockets of methane bubbling up from the river, but many locals remain convinced that the fireballs are of a supernatural origin.

The ancient Greeks believed that five rivers encircled Hades, the underworld. These rivers are Styx (hate), Phlegethon (fire), Acheron (sorrow), Cocytus (lamentation or sadness), and Lethe (forgetting). The Greeks believed that dead souls had to cross the River Acheron, a branch of the Styx, to reach the underworld. They crossed on a ferry piloted by Charon, the ferryman of Hades.

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