Many industries have grown close to rivers. They have been created as a result of the different activities of the water and have been built by the different actions of the river from either the power it holds the actual water it carries or the sediment that the river holds.
The first industry that has benefited greatly from rivers has been agriculture. Many people feel that the flooding of rivers is harmful to agricultural practices, yet without flood plains, many countries would be without any fertile land to farm.
A flood plain is formed when a river bursts its banks, leaving huge natural lakes covering the land. Eventually these flood waters recede back, leaving behind the silt that they carried in suspension. This material is vast because when a river is in a full state, it has the power to carry more silt than normal. These flood plains are ideal for agricultural practices as they are fertile material in which crops and grasses thrive.
Many countries in the world use rivers to irrigate vast areas of dry land. Egypt has been irrigating land to the side of the River Nile for centuries and this has had such an impact that 95% of Egyptians live next to the river which is only 5% Egypt’s total land area.
In Pakistan the River Indus today irrigates over 14.4 million hectares of land. This has resulted in 72% of the country’s population being associated with agriculture which shows how the population of the country are so dependent on the river.
Another primary industry that is reliant on rivers has been mining. The original gold prospectors did this by panning streams which involved sieving the water to hopefully unearth gold. It was popularly used during the gold rushes of the 18th and 19th centuries, but this method has been used since Roman times.
The flowing waters of rivers have been used to produce power. During the industrial revolution the cotton mills were powered by running water. These spinning machines were then located in areas of regular rainfall where there was also a reliable source of wool. This is why the cotton industry was located in the northern regions of England.
When the iron industry was first created, it was located in areas where there was a supply of iron ore for the raw material, coal for the fuel and running water. The early iron industry in South Wales used running water to work the bellows and also for cooling purposes.
The most obvious industry that has benefited from rivers has been the transport. Many large rivers around the world have had regular travel schedules which have transported people to and from their destinations. Some people today still use the rivers to get to and from their places of work as the river is the best way to avoid the traffic congestion in the city centers.
Man has developed this further by the building of canals. There have been huge projects such as the Suez Canal that joined the Mediterranean with the Red Sea, and the Panama Canal that joined the Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean. The business that these waterways have brought to their region has been huge and the countries have depended greatly on these waterways for the economic benefits they have brought.
Rivers have constantly been used by a variety of industries employing large numbers of people.