A river is a collection of water emerging from a source, and the flowing through an area before entering another body of water such as a lake or a Sea. There are however, rare occasions where the river will simply dry up and disappear. The source of a river is usually where permeable rock meets impermeable rock, and the river then flows overland from its spring. The area that the river and its tributaries drain is known as its catchment area and in some cases this can cover huge areas of land.
Rivers vary greatly in size and their classifications differ from the length of their course to the amount of water the river will carry. Some rivers are even classified in terms of the amount of sediment they support and transport. The Nile in Africa is the longest river in the world, yet the Amazon in South America carries more water. It has also been claimed that the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers combine together to deposit more material in the Bengal basin than any other river.
The Amazon is high up in most classifications of which is the World’s biggest river. Located in South America sometimes it is difficult to identify its source as it can vary greatly from season to season. However, it is widely accepted that the river is 6900 kilometers long and its drainage basin spreads into seven separate South American countries. The volume of water that it pours into the Atlantic Ocean is a massive 209,000 cubic metres per second, which is more that the next seven largest rivers in the world combined total. This amounts to 20% of all of the river water in the world that goes into the Oceans.
The mouth of the Amazon is 180 miles wide although some estimates double that distance, if the Para river is included. The sediment from the river muddies the Atlantic Ocean over an area of 1.3 million squared kilometers of open sea. The river has an incredible range of flora and fauna. Considering it has its own Tropical Rainforest this is hardly surprising. It is the home to over 3000 different species of fish and there are also two different species of river dolphin that are found in its waters.
While the River Nile can in no way challenge the Amazon’s claims to being the world’s biggest river, it is still the biggest one in Africa and a massive body of water. Its source is located in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa and then flows from south to north for 6,850 kilometers before entering in the Mediterranean Sea. The drainage basin covers eleven African countries and covers an area which is 10% of the whole of Africa. These different nations need to be in constant communication with each other so that the river is successfully managed and maintained. In its upper sources the river is divided between the White Nile and the Blue Nile. The confluence is just to the north of Khartoum the capital of the Sudan.
On entering the Mediterranean the river has formed the huge Nile Delta which is 190 kilometres long from north to south, and 240 kilometres wide. This massive geographical feature has been at the centre of population concentrations in the area as a result of its rich agricultural soils in a part of the world otherwise devoid of strong agricultural land. The Nile as a whole played a massive part in the development of Egyptian civilization. The flood plains of the river that flooded annually, ran through the length of the country enabling its populations to grow and flourish. Without the river this would not have occurred and the country would have been impoverished. Other countries further upstream are now seeing the benefits of successfully managing the Nile. However, great caution is needed as whatever actions are taken upstream can lead to huge environmental impacts downstream.