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What are the 10 longest rivers in the world?

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The 10 longest rivers in the world have played a decisive role in human history. Providing life-giving access to water and transportation, the world’s longest rivers are the “arteries of our planet.” While you may be able to name a few of the 10 longest rivers in the world, you’re unlikely to know them all! That’s why we are sharing a complete list of rivers and interesting facts about these waterways.

But first of all, there are a few things to keep in mind. Some of these measurements are approximate. This is because there is debate about the true sources of some of these rivers. Secondly, since the longest rivers in the world are natural objects, they do change length and shape over the centuries. That said, whether you’re planning a Nile cruise  or an Amazon adventure, here are the 10 longest rivers in the world!

1. The Nile River

Stretching 6,650 kilometers (4,130 miles), the Nile River is the longest river on Earth. The source of the Nile is known to be controversial. Both the White Nile and Blue Nile are said to mark the beginning of this record-breaking river. The White Nile begins in Lake Victoria in Tanzania, and the Blue Nile begins in Ethiopia at Lake Tana. From here the river flows north, passing through much of East Africa on its way to Egypt. Indeed, the Egyptian section of the Nile is the most famous and popular among historical river cruises. However, the importance of this river to humans and wildlife cannot be underestimated. The annual flooding of the Nile provided fertile soil for ancient Egyptian agriculture. Eventually the Nile flows into the Mediterranean Sea, where it ends its long journey.

Countries

  • Ethiopia
  • Eritrea
  • Sudan
  • Uganda
  • Tanzania 
  • Kenya
  • Rwanda
  • Burundi
  • Egypt 
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • South Sudan

2. Amazon River

In second place is the eternal Amazon River. Present throughout much of South America, the Amazon River lies in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, supporting incredible wildlife and pristine ecosystems. The Amazon, which begins in the Andes, may not be the longest river, but it is the largest. In fact, during the rainy season it is up to 190 kilometers wide and releases about 209,000 cubic meters of water into the Atlantic Ocean every second! This vast waterway is approximately 6,400 kilometers (3,976 miles) long and is a popular tourist destination. Cruises and boat trips on the Amazon River invite travelers to discover the natural abundance of the rainforest.

Countries

  • Brazil Peru
  • Bolivia
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Venezuela
  • Guyana

3. Yangtze River

The longest river in Asia, the Yangtze, flows entirely within China. Indeed, the river remains of paramount importance to China’s culture and economy: today some 400 million people live on the banks of this life-giving water source. Beginning on the Tibetan Plateau, the Yangtze flows east and ends in the East China Sea near Shanghai. At 6,300 kilometers (3,917 mi) long, it is one of the 10 longest rivers in the world. It is also an important source of tourism in China. River cruises through the scenic Three Gorges region are the perfect way to enjoy the incredible scenery of this beautiful part of China.

Countries

  • China

4. Mississippi River

Although there is debate about the true length of the Mississippi, it is generally considered the fourth longest river in the world. The total length of the Mississippi River, measured from Browers Spring in Montana, is 6,275 kilometers (3,902 mi). Its vast delta supports a rich wildlife ecosystem supporting large numbers of migratory birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Countries

  • USA
  • Canada

5. Yenisei River

A river you may not have heard of before, the Yenisei is one of the 10 longest rivers in the world. Beginning in northern Mongolia, the Yenisei rises through central Siberia and reaches its mouth in the Kara Sea, which is part of the Arctic Ocean. Its importance cannot be underestimated, as the river is a source of energy, food and transport for a number of remote Siberian communities such as the Kets and Yugis. In addition, the world’s largest herd of deer lives on the banks of the river during the winter grazing season. With a total length of 5,539 kilometers (3,445 miles), it ranks fifth on our list of the 10 longest rivers on earth.

Countries

  • Russia
  • Mongolia

6. Yellow River

Rising from the Bayankal Mountains in western China, the Yellow River flows through nine provinces before emptying into the Bohai Sea. With a total length of 5,464 kilometers (3,395 miles), it ranks sixth on the list of the 10 longest rivers on earth. The river gets its name from the high silt content in its waters, which gives it a murky yellow color. The history of the Yellow River is fascinating. Considered the birthplace of Chinese civilization, this river and its basin played a decisive role in the economic development of northern China. On the other hand, it has also been the source of frequent natural disasters, devastating floods, which have marred the long history of the Yellow River. However, to visit the Yellow River is to visit the birthplace of ancient dynasties, and the river is crucial to understanding Chinese history.

Countries

  • China

7. Ob-Irtysh River

Formed by the confluence of two rivers (the Ob and the Irtysh), the Ob-Irtysh River spends half the year frozen due to its location in the harsh climate of Western Siberia. With a total length of 5,410 kilometers (3,364 miles), the bulk of the waterway passes through Russian territory. In fact, the most important city located on the banks of the Ob-Irtysh is Novosibirsk, a stop on the famous Trans-Siberian Railway route.

Countries

  • Russia
  • Kazakhstan
  • China
  • Mongolia

8. Rio de la Plata

Another great river of South America is the Rio de la Plata, or “River Plate”. Formed by the confluence of the Uruguay and Paraná rivers in Uruguay, the Rio de la Plata flows into the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth between Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Although the Rio de la Plata itself is only 290 kilometers long, its tributaries (the Uruguay River and the Paraná River) make it one of the longest rivers in the world, with a total length of 4,880 kilometers (3,030 mi). It is also officially the widest river in the world, measuring approximately 220 kilometers at its widest point.

Countries

  • Brazil
  • Argentina
  • Paraguay
  • Bolivia
  • Uruguay

9. Congo River

In the heart of Africa flows the Congo River, the deepest river on Earth. Simply enormous, this winding river supports incredible ecosystems throughout Central and East Africa. Starting from DMRC, the flow of this river heads east and eventually flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The Congo River crosses the equator twice on its way to the sea and is an important source of water for forest-dwelling animals such as elephants, gorillas and hyenas. The total length is 4,700 kilometers (2,922 miles).

Countries

  • Angola
  • Tanzania
  • Cameroon
  • Zambia
  • Burundi
  • Rwanda

10. Amur River

Last but not least, the Amur River ranks 10th on our list of the 10 longest rivers in the world. The Amur River, which forms the geographic border between the Russian Far East and China, originates near the sacred Mount Burkan-Khaldun. This mountain in Mongolia is believed to be the birthplace of Genghis Khan. What’s interesting about this river is the wide variety of ecosystems supported by its flow. From boreal forests to deserts and tundras, the Amur River flows through them all. This little-known 4,444-kilometer (2,763-mile) river is an important source of life and cultural heritage for many remote communities in this part of the world.

Countries

  • China
  • Mongolia
  • Russia

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