Since time immemorial, rivers have been among the most important natural features in human’s life. For one, they were the primary source of water in prehistoric times and still are in some parts of the world. Another significant role played by rivers is the production of electricity. Of course, the water does not – by itself – produce an electric current. However, strong water waves, especially in a waterfall, helps move the turbines that, in turn, offer mechanical energy to the generator.
Now that you know the importance of these natural resources let’s have a look at some of the most famous ones across the globe. Every continent has at least one very long river. Some rivers are quite notable because of the role they’ve played in their community. That said, here is a list of rivers you must be aware of for your general knowledge.
List of World’s Most Famous Rivers
1. The Nile
You must have heard about River Nile at least once because it is arguably the most famous river in the world. It is the longest continuous river on earth, running for a distance of about 4,132 miles. The river originates from Lake Victoria and flows through six countries as it heads towards the Mediterranean sea.
The Nile River is divided into two. The first tributary – whose source is Lake Victoria – is called the White Nile. After 3,700 kilometers, it meets the Blue Nile, whose origin is Lake Tana in Ethiopia. The river is not only a source of pride for the east and northern African regions but also a big player in the countries’ history. For one, it played a massive role in the Egyptian Civilization by making the land exceptionally fertile through silt deposits.
2. Amazon River
Another world-renowned river in the Amazon River which spans over 4,000 miles. Although some sources disagree on the exact length, the Amazon River remains the second-longest river in the world. The South America-based river stretches through three different countries – Brazil, Colombia, and Peru. It also has other tributaries originating from Bolivia, Venezuela, and Ecuador and empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
However, that’s not the only reason why this fantastic river is on the list. According to research, the Amazon River has the largest volume of water in the world. In fact, it accounts for a fifth of the world’s total river flow, which is quite staggering. Also, it is home to more than 3,000 fish species, with new ones still being discovered. One of these species is the Amazon River Dolphin, which grows to about 2.6 meters.
3. The Danube
Next in line is the Danube River located in Europe. It’s the continent’s second-longest river stretching for over 1,771 miles, about 400 miles shorter than Volga River. It is both famous and important not only because of its current role but also its significance in history.
First, it played a huge role in the battle between the Germans and the Soviets. The former sunk their ships in this water to prevent the Soviet Union from taking control over them. In modern-day Europe, the river acts as one of the main European waterways and can accommodate the largest ship.
4. Yangtze River
Yangtze River completes our top four most famous rivers in the world, mainly because of its length. It is the longest river in Asia flowing for a distance of about 6,300 kilometers eastwards of Tanggula Mountains. The river heads straight to the East China Sea, where it discharges.
It is also worth noting that this is the third-longest river in the world after the Nile River and River Amazon. Amazingly, the river covers just over 20% of China’s landmass and is the busiest in the world with several cruise ships and ferries using it on a daily basis.
5. Mekong River
Mekong is another river located in Asia and is the seventh-longest in the continent. Its length of 4,350 kilometers makes it the twelfth-longest river in the world. Every year, the river is estimated to discharge more than 475 cubic kilometers of water.
Unlike its counterpart (Yangtze River), navigation in the Mekong River is quite challenging, especially during severe seasons when there are a lot of rains. Nonetheless, it is still used as the main trade route connecting western China to Southeast Asia. In fact, it was used in 210 BCE by the early settlers in the region.
6. Zambezi River
Africa is known for some of the most amazing natural features, and the Zambezi River is one of them. Of course, one of the things that make it famous is the fact that it is the fourth-longest in Africa. It is also the longest east-flowing river in the continent, as well as the most significant African river discharging into the Indian Ocean.
This famous river in the world arises in Zambia and flows through Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. You cannot mention the Zambezi River without touching on Victoria Falls. This is a natural feature that has attracted many tourists from within and outside the continent. Other falls along the river include Chavuma, Ngonye, and Sioma. The famous Kariba dam is located on the river, and it provides electricity for both South Africa and Zambia.
7. Volga River
Are you searching for the longest river in Europe? Spanning a distance of 3,530 kilometers, Volga River is not only the longest in Europe but also the largest in terms of drainage and discharge volumes. It is very significant to the lives of the Iranian, Turkic, Slavic, and Russian people, among others.
Based on its importance to the Russians, it has been dubbed as the national river of Russia. Since time immemorial, the river has been a means of transport between Asia and Europe. Volga’s drainage system is quite large and covers eleven Russian cities, including Moscow.
8. Mississippi River
Last but not least, we have the second-longest river in North America. The river flows over a distance of 3,730 kilometers southwards of Lake Itasca to the Mississippi River Delta. It has many tributaries, and that makes it drain at least 32 states in the U.S.A. and two provinces in Canada. As such, the Mississippi River is not only the four-longest but also has the 15th largest discharge in the world.
I hope that this article on famous rivers in the world was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Geographical Rankings Page!