There is no river in the world that contains more sediment that the amounts that the Brahmaputra River deposits into the Ganges delta. The Delta is so large that it contains the country of Bangladesh. The river flows from its source in the Angsi Glacier in Tibet’s Himalayas, for 3,900 kilometers before entering into the Bay of Bengal. Along its course its catchment area includes parts of China, India and Bangladesh.
On its journey down from the mountains it cuts huge gorges into the landscapes which is why the river carries’ so much sediment. Sometimes during periods of low flow, there is so much sediment that the river braids around deposits that have been left in the centre of the river. One of the major issues of the river is man’s ability to control its flood waters. The areas need the rivers to flood to maintain the fertility of the soils, yet many lives have been lost as people’s homes are simply washed away.
The largest river in North America is the Mississippi River which flows for 3,700 miles. Its catchment areas includes 31 US States, plus 2 provinces from Canada. It actually drains 40% of the country and has the fourth largest catchment area in the world. The flood plains of the river gives the States some of its richest agricultural land and was the home to many of the indigenous population before European colonization.
The source of the river is Lake Itasca in Minnesota. There is not a river in the world that has been influenced more by the activities of man, and in its early stages it passes through 43 dams. Along its route it passes through many natural lakes as it makes its way through the middle and later stages to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. The closest city to its mouth is New Orleans which occupies both river bank sides. The city is prone to flooding as it appears to be subsiding, and the area is prone extreme storms. The city constantly attempts to protect itself by updating flood defense schemes.
The longest river in China is the Yangtze which is 6,380 kilometers long and is the third longest river in the world. It is actually the longest river to flow in only one country and its river basin is home to one third of the country’s population which is around 400 million people. The source of the river is on the Tibetan plateau lying at 5,342 metres above sea level. In the early stages of the river it falls around 4000 meters very quickly and has left behind spectacular gorges scarred on the landscape. The building of the Three Gorges Dam has created the largest hydro-electricity power station in the world, and has also created a wider channel for boats to get up the river from the coastal mouth at Shanghai.
Despite huge protests from environmentalists the Chinese authorities proceeded with the project as they saw massive economic benefits from the dam being successful. So far the creation has been a success and the country is continuing to look at how this huge river can be utilized further. As in all the major rivers of the Yangtze provides great economic opportunities yet people want to see a balance providing protection to natural river ecosystems. Short term environmental pollution can damage these fragile areas that that have taken thousands of years to create.