Top 10 Longest Rivers in the World

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Many civilizations have flourished around the rivers and they are very important for the survival of the human race. Measuring the exact length of the rivers is not easy. It is always a challenging task to figure out the true source of the rivers as they can be located in remote and inaccessible locations.

What is the World’s Longest River?

There is often debate between whether the Nile or the Amazon River is longer. The Nile River is usually considered to be the longest river in the world. Here is a list of the top ten longest rivers in the world.

#1 Nile River – 6,650 km

longest river in the world - Nile River

The Nile River is the longest River in the world with a length of 6650 km (4,130 mi). It is a major river flowing in northeastern Africa and is the longest river in Africa.

The Nile is the longest river in the world is disputed as some scientists argue that the Amazon river in South America is longer than the Nile River.

The source of the Nile is considered to be Lake Victoria, but the lake has feeder rivers of considerable size. The drainage basin of the Nile covers 3,254,555 square km (1,256,591 sq mi), about 10% of the area of Africa.

The Nile river is often associated with Egypt, but in fact, it flows through 11 countries: Tanzania, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt. It is the main source of water in Egypt and Sudan.

The Nile River has two main tributaries the White Nile and the Blue Nile. The White Nile starts in South Sudan and the Blue Nile starts in Ethiopia. These two rivers merge in the city of Khartoum in Sudan a from there it continues to flow north through Egypt and, finally, into the Mediterranean Sea.

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#2 Amazon River – 6,400 km

Amazon river second-longest river in the world

The Amazon River is the largest river by discharge of water volume in the world and is the second-longest river in the world after the Nile River. It originates from the Andes mountains in Peru in South America. The length of the Amazon River is approximately 6400 km (4000 miles).

It discharges 209,000 cubic meters (7,831,000 cubic feet ) every second and the mouth of the Amazon is over 320 km (200 miles) wide. It has over 1,100 tributaries and 17 of which are longer than 1,600 km (1000 miles).

The Amazon River runs through Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Peru. The Amazon River is the widest river in the world. The width of the Amazon is between 1.6 and 10 km (1.0 and 6.2 miles) at low stage but expands during the wet season to 48 km (30 miles) or more.

20% of the freshwater that enters the Atlantic oceans comes from the Amazon River and because of its vast dimensions, it is sometimes called “The River Sea

#3 Yangtze River – 6,300 km

Yangtze River is the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country

The Yangtze River is the third-longest river in the world after the Nile River in Africa and the Amazon River in South America. It is called Chang Jiang in Chinese, literally meaning the long river. It rises in Tanggula Mountain, it flows eastwards and pours itself into the East China Sea.

The Yangtze River is the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country with a length of 6300 km (3915 miles). It has more than 700 tributaries and the main ones are Hanjiang, Yalongjiang, Minjiang, Jialingjiang, Wujiang, Xiangjiang, Yuanjiang and Ganjiang.

It is the world’s sixth-largest river by volume of water discharged, at over 30,000 cubic meters(1,059,440 cubic feet) a second. The drainage basin of the Yangtze River covers 20 % of the total landmass of the People’s Republic of China.

It mainly runs across Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Sichuan, Yunnan, Chongqing, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu and Shanghai from west to east. The Yangtze River is the busiest River in the world with cruise ships, ferries and transport barges crisscrossing the river.

The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River is the biggest Hydro-electric Dam in the world

#4 Mississippi-Missouri – 5970 km

Mississippi, Missouri, and Jefferson river system stands fourth among the Longest rivers in the world

The river system comprising of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Jefferson river system is regarded as the world’s fourth longest river system and it has an estimated length of 5970 km (3,710 miles).

The Mississippi river is also known by names Old Man River and Father of Waters.

The Mississippi and its tributaries watershed drain all or parts of 32 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. It is the second-longest river in North America and originates from Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota and drains into the Gulf of Mexico.

#5 Yenisei River – 5,539 km

Yenisei is the largest river system flowing to the Arctic Ocean

The Yenisei is the largest river system flowing to the Arctic Ocean. It is central of the three great Siberian rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean, the Ob and the Lena are the other two rivers.

The Yenisei river rises in Mungaragiyn-Gol, Mongolia. The longest stream following the Yenisei-Angara-Selenga-Ider is about 5539 km long and it is the fifth-longest river system in the world.

The Selenge River is regarded as the headwaters of this river system. The Selenge River is 992 km long and drains into Lake Baikal. The Angara river rises from Lake Baikal near Listvyanka and flows through the Irkutsk Oblast of Russia and finally joins the Yenisei River near Strelka. The Yenisei finally drains into the Arctic Ocean.

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#6 Yellow River – 5,464

Yellow river

The Yellow River is also known as Huáng Hé, is the second longest river in China after the Yangtze River. With an estimated length of 5,464 km (3,395 miles), it is the sixth-longest river in the world and the third-longest river in Asia.

The name “Yellow River” comes from the huge amounts of “yellow” loess sediment it carries while flowing through the Loess Plateau. It is the world’s major river with the most excessive siltation.

The Yellow River originates in the Bayankala Mountains in Qinghai province in western China. It flows through 9 provinces of China and empties into the Bohai Sea. The headwaters of the Yellow River originate at an elevation of 4,500 meters.

It is slow and sluggish along most of its course and some regard it as the world’s muddiest major river. The Yellow river discharges three times the sediments as compared to the Mississippi River.

Tributaries of the Yellow River include White River, Black River, Star River, Daxia River, Tao River, Zuli River, Qingshui River, Dahei River, Kuye River, Wuding River, Fen River, Wei River, Luo River, Qin River, Dawen River, Kuo River. The Wei River is the largest of these tributaries.

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#7 Ob-Irtysh – 5,410

stands eighth among the Longest rivers in the world

The Ob is the world’s seventh-longest river which originates at the junction of the Biya and Katun rivers in the Altai Mountains and flows through Siberia to the Gulf of Ob.

The Irtysh River is regarded as part of the main course rather than as the Ob’s major tributary making the Ob the seventh longest river in the world with an estimated length of 5,410 km (3,362 miles).

Other large tributaries include the Tom, the Chulym, the Ket, the Tym, the Vakh, the Vasyugan, and the Sosva. But only the Irtysh, as the main tributary, gets its name in the title.

The combined Ob-Irtysh river system is the fourth-longest river system of Asia after the Yenisei, Yangtze and Yellow rivers. The area of its basin 2,990,000 square kilometres (1,150,000 sq mi).

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#8 Paraná – Río de la Plata – 4,880

Paraná - Río de la Plata river system stands eighth among the Longest rivers in the world

The Paraná River is a river in south Central South America, runs through Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina and has an overall length of 4,880 kilometres (3,030 mi). It is the eighth longest river in the world.

It is second in length only to the Amazon River among South American rivers.

The name Paraná is an abbreviation of the phrase “para rehe onáva”, which comes from the Tupi language and it means “like the sea” (that is, “as big as the sea”).

The Paraná River merges first with the Paraguay River and then farther downstream with the Uruguay River to form the Río de la Plata and empties into the Atlantic Ocean.

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#9 Congo River – 4,700

Congo river stands ninth among the Longest rivers in the world

The Congo River, formerly known as the Zaire River is the ninth-longest river in the world. It is the second-longest river in the continent of Africa, shorter only than the Nile river. The Congo-Lualaba-Chambeshi River system has an overall length of 4,700 km (2,920 mi).

The Congo River is the second-largest river in the world by discharge volume, after the Amazon river. It is also the world’s deepest recorded river with measured depths over 220 m (720 ft).

The Congo Basin has a total area of about 4,000,000 km2 (1,500,000 sq mi), or 13% of the entire African landmass.

It is in between Lakes Tanganyika and Nyasa in the highlands of northeastern Zambia. The river is close to the equator and because of that, it is hot and humid.

The river’s course begins peacefully in the savannas of Lake Tanganyika and then the waters enter a 75-mile long canyon of rapids known as “Gates of Hell”.

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#10 Amur-Argun-Kherlen – 4,444

Amur river system stands tenth among the Longest rivers in the world

The Amur River is also known as Heilong Jiang in Chinese meaning “Black Dragon River”. It is the world’s tenth longest river, forming the border between the Russian Far East and Northeastern China (Inner Manchuria).

This River system Amur-Argun-Kherlen flows through Russia, China and Mongolia and has a length of 4,444 km (2,763 miles).

The Amur and its 200 tributaries drain an area of 1,855,000 sq km (716,000 square miles) — the tenth-largest river basin in the world and one of the largest in the Russian Federation. Its main tributaries include Shilka, Zeya, Bureya and Amgun on the left and the Huma, Ergune, Songhua, Ussuri on the right.

Top 25 Longest Rivers in the World

Rank RiverLength (km)Length (miles)OutflowCountries in the drainage basin
1Nile–White Nile–Kagera–Nyabarongo–Mwogo–Rukarara6,6504,130MediterraneanEthiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Egypt, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan
2Amazon–Ucayali–Tambo–Ene–Mantaro6,5754,086Atlantic OceanBrazil, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana
3Yangtze6,3003,917East China SeaChina
4Mississippi–Missouri–Jefferson–Beaverhead–Red Rock–Hell Roaring6,2753,902Gulf of MexicoUnited States (98.5%), Canada (1.5%)
5Yenisei–Angara–Selenge–Ider5,5393,445Kara SeaRussia (97%), Mongolia (2.9%)
6Yellow River5,4643,395Bohai SeaChina
7Ob–Irtysh5,4103,364Gulf of ObRussia, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia
8Río de la Plata–Paraná–Rio Grande4,8803,030Río de la PlataBrazil (46.7%), Argentina (27.7%), Paraguay (13.5%), Bolivia (8.3%), Uruguay (3.8%)
9Congo–Chambeshi4,7002,922Atlantic OceanDemocratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Angola, Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Cameroon, Zambia, Burundi, Rwanda
10Amur–Argun–Kherlen4,4442,763Sea of OkhotskRussia, China, Mongolia
11Lena4,4002,736Laptev SeaRussia
12Mekong4,3502,705South China SeaChina, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam
13Mackenzie–Slave–Peace–Finlay4,2412,637Beaufort SeaCanada
14Niger4,2002,611Gulf of GuineaNigeria (26.6%), Mali (25.6%), Niger (23.6%), Algeria (7.6%), Guinea (4.5%), Cameroon (4.2%), Burkina Faso (3.9%), Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Chad
15Brahmaputra–Tsangpo3,8482,391GangesIndia (58.0%), China (19.7%), Nepal (9.0%), Bangladesh (6.6%), Disputed India/China (4.2%), Bhutan (2.4%)
16Murray–Darling–Culgoa–Balonne–Condamine3,6722,282Southern OceanAustralia
17Tocantins–Araguaia3,6502,270Atlantic Ocean, AmazonBrazil
18Volga3,6452,266Caspian SeaRussia
19Indus–Sênggê Zangbo3,6102,250Arabian SeaPakistan (93%), India and China
20Shatt al-Arab–Euphrates–Murat3,5962,236Persian GulfIraq (60.5%), Turkey (24.8%), Syria (14.7%)
21Madeira–Mamoré–Grande–Caine–Rocha3,3802,100AmazonBrazil, Bolivia, Peru
22Purús3,2111,995AmazonBrazil, Peru
23Yukon3,1851,980Bering SeaUnited States (59.8%), Canada (40.2%)
24São Francisco2,9001,802Atlantic OceanBrazil
25Syr Darya–Naryn3,0781,913Aral SeaKazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan

List Table Source – Wikipedia

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