Since the beginning of human existence, we have benefited from our earth’s rivers as a source of sustenance, a key role in successful economies and a symbolism of culture. A river is usually 300-feet deep on average and what lies beneath are ecosystems filled with unique flora, fauna and animal species. In this list, we share with you the world’s deepest rivers, all between 320 to 720 feet in depth. Learn more about these rivers by reading these interesting facts.
List of Deepest Rivers in the World
1. Congo River
The word’s deepest river is the Congo River in South Africa. Measuring as deep as 720 feet, this river is a major water source for many African countries and is also home to many unique animal species. Apart from this global distinction, the Congo River is also the world’s second largest river in terms of discharge volume, as well as Africa’s second longest river after the Nile River.
Its main contribution to our planet is the Congo River Basin, which is larger than the entire India and makes up 13% of the African region, sustaining many rainforests and wetlands along its course. Because of this, it is considered the 2nd lung of the world (after the Amazon River) as it traps carbon emissions that could lead to unwanted climate change. For Africa in particular, it also serves as a trade route for palm oil, sugar, copper and cotton between African cities and provinces, as well as a source for hydroelectricity, especially for the nearby Kinshasa and Katanga provinces.
2. Yangzte River
The Yangtze River is the 2nd deepest river in the world and the longest river in Asia. Located in China, the country has benefited from it as a trade route for more than 2,000 years. In fact, some archaeologists have found proof of human activity along the river as far as 27,000 years ago, particularly serving as a settlement ground for tribes and a place where battles between ancient Chinese kingdoms have occurred. Since then, its river basin has been a major source of rice, wheat and barley for the country.
Although China has benefited from its natural terrains, it has unfortunately caused some destruction as well. Throughout the centuries, locals have set up their homes along the river dykes despite the threats of valley floods. The greatest flood was said to have happened in 1931, killing almost 3.7 million people in a span of months. In recent years, it has also become a source of pollution because of agricultural and industrial companies that try to take advantage of the area’s resources through deforestation and construction of dams.
3. Danube River
Third on the list is the Danube River, which is also the second longest river in Europe. It starts out in Germany, flowing towards 9 more European countries (Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine) and ultimately leading out to the Black Sea. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is where you’ll find 5,000 species of animals and 700 dams that have become sources of drinking water for millions of Europeans.
Apart from its ecological purpose, it is also a big tourism hub in Europe. First, it is featured in many beautiful nature attractions across different countries, such as Austria’s Wachau Valley, Germany’s Danube-Auen National Park, Serbia’s Iron Gate and Bulgaria’s Srebarna Nature Reserve to name a few. Secondly, it is a popular route for leisurely biking, boating activities and travel cruises, with as many as 70 cruises just from Vienna and Budapest.
4. Zambezi River
The fourth deepest river in the world is the Zambezi River. Compared to others in this list, it remains to be one of the least explored rivers, giving it an appeal of unspoiled beauty. It flows through the lush green landscapes of Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique where you’ll find rich wildlife like elephants, crocodiles, zebras, buffalos, hippos and lions. It is most notable for leading to the Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Because of this and the many other majestic waterfalls along its path, it has also become known for a good place to experience white water rafting, coining tourist spots like The Devil’s Toilet, The Gnashing Jaws of Death and The Ugly Stepsisters.
The entire landscape of the Zambezi River is said to be protected by the Nyami Nyami, one of the gods of the Tonga people, an ethnic community living in Zambia and Zimbabwe. His half-fish-half-snake statue is located in the Kariba Gorge (also include the Kariba Dam) as the god and guardian of the river valley.
5. Amazon River
The Amazon River is the fifth deepest river in the world and the most popular to us for many reasons. For one, it is the main source of life for the world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon Rainforest, the most important ecosystem in regulating the earth’s oxygen and carbon cycles. It is also the world’s widest river and largest river basin, giving life and sustenance to thousands of unique species such as dolphins, anacondas and piranhas.
Although it has been greatly explored by scientists, it is still considered one of the most mysterious rivers because of the many things we have still yet to discover about it. In fact, it was only in 2016 that researchers found a new coral reef system of over 1,000-kilometers long. Here they discovered exotic species of fish, sea stars, corals and giant sea sponges with the weight a small elephant. Another amazing discovery was its connection to the Sahara Desert. Although they are millions of miles apart, the Amazon relies of minerals from the Sahara for survival, coming from sands blown across the Atlantic Ocean.
Apart from adding beauty to our natural landscapes, rivers play an important role in our survival as a planet. On top of these 5 astounding rivers, there 160 other major rivers scattered across our countries, all with their unique features and contributions to the environment.
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