A river is fresh water flowing across the surface of the land, usually to the sea.
It flows in a channel.
The bottom of the channel is called the bed and the sides of the channel are called the banks.
Most settlements (cities and towns) are built along the rivers of the world.
Rivers give people food, energy, a place for recreation.
Rivers of the world also provide transportation routes, and water for irrigation and for drinking.
The Nile River
It is the world's longest river (approx. 6690 kilometres)
The River Nile is formed from the White Nile, which originates at Lake Victoria and the Blue Nile, which originates at Lake Tana in Ethiopia.
- The Nile empties (flows to) into the Mediterranean Sea.
- Half of the population of Egypt live in near the river. That's about 40 million people!
- Just like the ancient Egyptians, they depend on it for water, food, transportation and excellent soil for growing food.
The Aswan High Dam was built in 1970. The dam was built to control water in the river. Before the Aswan Dam was built, floods often destroyed crops, and in years of low rainfall droughts happened.
Here's a video of the sights along the Nile River.
The Amazon River (approx. 6296 kilometres)
The river begins in the Andes Mountains in Peru and empties into the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil.
Hundreds of tributaries and stream flow into it. (A tributary is a stream, or smaller river, that flows into a main river)
- There are over 3000 known species of fish that live in the Amazon River
- The Amazon rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in the world.
- 350 different indigenous (native) peoples live in the forests along the river. They hunt and fish there.
- More than 30 million people live in cities, towns and villages along the river.
Watch a short video of life along the Amazon:
Colorado River, USA (2,333 km long)
The Colorado River flows from Colorado through the Rocky Mountains and into Mexico. There it drains into the Gulf of California.
The Colorado River flows through the Grand Canyon, which it carved out of the sandstone rock over millions of years.
- The river is the fresh water supply for 25 million people.
- The Hoover Dam is one on many dams built on the river.
- The water from the river is also used to irrigate farm lands.
- The river is a popular place for white water rafting.
- Colorado is a Spanish word meaning 'red'. The red sandstone silt that would cover the river basin, making it look red.
Read more here:
Mackenzie River, Canada (2,241 km long)
The Mackenzie is the world's 10th longest river
- The Mackenzie River is the longest river in Canada covering a distance of around 1800 km.
- It begins at Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories and flows north into the Arctic Ocean.
- The river and is named after a fur trapper, Alexander Mackenzie who explored the river in 1789.
Read more here
The Mekong (4,800 km long)
The Mekong is the 12th longest river in the world.
It begins its 4,800 kilometre journey in Tibet and flows through Yunnan Province of China, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
- Over 60 million people depend on the Mekong and its tributaries for food, water and transport. They eat the fish, irrigate their crops and use the river for transport.
- In 1540, Antonio de Faria, a Portuguese man, was the first person from Europe to see the Mekong River.
- The river is home to these animals, some of which are endangered: Mekong Giant Catfish, Giant Carp, Mekong Stingray, Irrawaddy Dolphin, Giant Ibis, and the Siamese Crocodile.
Read more here
The Murray River, Australia (2589 km long)
The Murray is Australia's longest river. It is approx. 2589 kilometres long.
It rises (starts) in the Australian Alps, in south eastern New South Wales, and flows westward to form the border between New South Wales and Victoria. The Murray then flows southwest across South Australia through Lake Alexandrina, a lagoon, and into the Indian Ocean.
- Its main tributary, the Darling River, joins the Murray at Wentworth.
- The Murray-Darling river system is 4,685 kilometres long.
- The water of the Murray is used for irrigation, and the Murray valley contains almost all of Australia's irrigated land where vines, fruits, and vegetables are grown.
- The Murray is in great danger from salinity which is destroying the river and the land of the Murray Valley.
Read about plans to maintain the Murray river.
The Rhine River (1,355 km long)
The Rhine is not the longest river in Europe but is a major European river-trade artery.
- The Rhine runs for 1,355 kilometres from Lake Constance to Basel in Switzerland, then north through Germany, and finally west through the Netherlands to Rotterdam.
- Along its banks are magnificent castles and breathtaking, vine-terraced hills.
- Small villages and large cities such as Bonn, Köln, and Koblenz are built beside this great river.
Read about some of the castles along the Rhine
Read some facts about the Rhine
Yangtze River, China (6,380 km long)
Yangtze River is the largest in China and the third longest in the world.
It comes from glaciers in the Tanggula Mountain Range, in Qinhai Province, in the west of China, and flows out into the East China Sea when it reaches Shanghai.
- The river has more than 700 hundred tributaries. It is the busiest river in the world with cruise ships, ferries and transport barges crisscrossing the river.
- It is the most important river in China for agriculture, industry, and inland travel. One third of China’s population (about 4 hundred million people) live along the river.
- The world's biggest dam, The Three Gorges Dam is built on the river. The hydroelectric power station, is in Xiling Gorge and it provides and hydro-electrical generation to cites and towns along the river.
Native animal species of the river such as the Chinese Alligator, the Finless Porpoise and the Chinese Paddlefish are endangered because of pollution.