List of rivers by length
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This is a list of the longest rivers on Earth. It includes river systems over 1,000 kilometers.
Definition of length
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There are many factors, such as the source, the identification or the definition of the mouth, and the scale of measurement of the river length between source and mouth, that determine the precise meaning of "river length". As a result, the length measurements of many rivers are only approximations. In particular, there has long been disagreement as to whether the Nile or the Amazon is the world's longest river. The Nile has traditionally been considered longer, but in recent years some Brazilian and Peruvian studies have suggested that the Amazon is longer by measuring the river plus the adjacent Pará estuary and the longest connecting tidal canal.
For the purpose of determining maximum length a river's "true source" is considered to be the source of whichever tributary is farthest from the mouth. This tributary may or may not have the same name as the main stem river. For example, the source of the Mississippi River is normally said to be Lake Itasca in the U.S. state of Minnesota, but the most distant source in the Mississippi system is that of the Jefferson River in the state of Montana, a tributary of the Missouri River which in turn is a tributary of the Mississippi. When the Mississippi is measured from mouth to this farthest source, it is called the Mississippi–Missouri–Jefferson. Furthermore, it is sometimes hard to state exactly where a river begins, especially rivers that are formed by ephemeral streams, swamps, or changing lakes. In this article, length means the length of the longest continuous river channel in a given river system, regardless of name.
The mouth of a river is hard to determine in cases where the river has a large estuary that gradually widens and opens into the ocean; examples are the River Plate and the Saint Lawrence River. Some rivers do not have a mouth, such as the Okavango, Humboldt, Bear and Kern; instead they dwindle to very low water volume and eventually evaporate, or sink into an aquifer, or get diverted for agriculture. The exact point where these rivers end will vary seasonally.
The source of some rivers starting in farming areas can be difficult to determine, if the river is formed by the confluence of several farm field drainage ditches which only contain water after rain. Similarly, in rivers starting in a chalk area, such as the Chilterns in south England, the length of the upper course which is dry varies with how high the water table is, which varies with the weather: see winterbourne (stream).
The length of a river between source and mouth may be hard to determine due to issues of map scale. Small scale maps (those showing large areas) tend to generalize, or "smooth" lines more than large scale maps (those showing small areas). According to the generally accepted ideal, length measurements should be based on maps that are of a large enough scale to show the width of the river, and the path measured is the path a small boat would take down the middle of the river.
Even when detailed maps are available, the length measurement is not always clear. A river may have multiple channels, or anabranches. The length may depend on whether the center or the edge of the river is measured. It may not be clear how to measure the length through a lake. Seasonal and annual changes may alter both rivers and lakes. Other factors that can change the length of a river include cycles of erosion and flooding, dams, levees, and channelization. In addition, the length of meanders can change significantly over time due to natural or artificial cutoffs, when a new channel cuts across a narrow strip of land, bypassing a large river bend. For example, due to 18 cutoffs created between 1766 and 1885 the length of the Mississippi River from Cairo, Illinois, to New Orleans, Louisiana, was reduced by 218 miles (351 km).
These points make it difficult, if not impossible, to get an accurate measurement of the length of a river. The varying accuracy and precision also makes it difficult to make length comparisons between different rivers without a degree of uncertainty.
List of rivers longer than 1000 km
|This article or section may contain previously unpublished synthesis of published material that conveys ideas not attributable to the original sources. (June 2009)|
One should take the aforementioned discussion into account when using the data in the following table. For most rivers, different sources provide conflicting information on the length of a river system. The information in different sources is between parentheses.
|River||Length (km)||Length (miles)||Drainage area (km²)||Average discharge (m³/s)||Outflow||Countries in the drainage basin|
|1.||Nile – Kagera[n 1]||6,650
|3,349,000||5,100||Mediterranean||Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Egypt, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan|
|2.||Amazon – Ucayali – Apurímac[n 1]||6,400
|6,915,000||219,000||Atlantic Ocean||Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana|
|1,800,000||31,900||East China Sea||China|
||2,980,000||16,200||Gulf of Mexico||United States (98.5%), Canada (1.5%)|
||2,580,000||19,600||Kara Sea||Russia (97%), Mongolia (2.9%)|
|7.||Ob–Irtysh||5,410||3,364||2,990,000||12,800||Gulf of Ob||Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia|
|8.||Paraná – Río de la Plata||4,880
||2,582,672||18,000||Río de la Plata||Brazil (46.7%), Argentina (27.7%), Paraguay (13.5%), Bolivia (8.3%), Uruguay (3.8%)|
||3,680,000||41,800||Atlantic Ocean||Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Angola, Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Cameroon, Zambia, Burundi, Rwanda|
|4,444||2,763||1,855,000||11,400||Sea of Okhotsk||Russia, China, Mongolia|
|4,350||2,705||810,000||16,000||South China Sea||China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam|
||2,090,000||9,570||Gulf of Guinea||Nigeria (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|
|16.||Tocantins–Araguaia||3,650||2,270||950,000||13,598||Atlantic Ocean, Amazon||Brazil|
|18.||Shatt al-Arab – Euphrates||3,596
||884,000||856||Persian Gulf||Iraq (60.5%), Turkey (24.8%), Syria (14.7%)|
|19.||Madeira–Mamoré–Grande–Caine–Rocha||3,380||2,100||1,485,200||31,200||Amazon||Brazil, Bolivia, Peru|
|21.||Yukon||3,185||1,980||850,000||6,210||Bering Sea||United States (59.8%), Canada (40.2%)|
|22.||Indus||3,180||1,976||960,000||7,160||Arabian Sea||Pakistan (93%), India, China|
|24.||Syr Darya – Naryn||3,078||1,913||219,000||703||Aral Sea||Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan|
|3,060||1,901||324,000||3,153||Andaman Sea||China (52.4%), Myanmar (43.9%), Thailand (3.7%)|
|26.||Saint Lawrence – Niagara – Detroit – Saint Clair – Saint Marys – Saint Louis||3,058||1,900||1,030,000||10,100||Gulf of Saint Lawrence||Canada (52.1%), United States (47.9%)|
|570,000||82||Gulf of Mexico||United States (52.1%), Mexico (47.9%)|
|29.||Brahmaputra–Tsangpo||2,948*||1,832*||1,730,000||19,200||Ganges||India (58.0%), China (19.7%), Nepal (9.0%), Bangladesh (6.6%), Disputed India/China (4.2%), Bhutan (2.4%)|
||2,888*||1,795*||817,000||7,130||Black Sea||Romania (28.9%), Hungary (11.7%), Austria (10.3%), Serbia (10.3%), Germany (7.5%), Slovakia (5.8%), Bulgaria (5.2%), Croatia (4.5%),|
|2,693*||1,673*||1,330,000||4,880||Mozambique Channel||Zambia (41.6%), Angola (18.4%), Zimbabwe (15.6%), Mozambique (11.8%), Malawi (8.0%), Tanzania (2.0%), Namibia, Botswana|
||2,620||1,628||907,000||12,037||Bay of Bengal||India, Bangladesh, Nepal, China|
|35.||Amu Darya -- Panj||2,620||1,628||534,739||1,400||Aral Sea||Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan|
|37.||Nelson–Saskatchewan||2,570||1,597||1,093,000||2,575||Hudson Bay||Canada, United States|
|2,549||1,584||900,000||4,300||Paraná||Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina|
|39.||Kolyma||2,513||1,562||644,000||3,800||East Siberian Sea||Russia|
|40.||Pilcomayo||2,500||1,553||270,000||Paraguay||Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia|
|41.||Upper Ob -- Katun||2,490||1,547||Ob||Russia|
|44.||Ural||2,428||1,509||237,000||475||Caspian Sea||Russia, Kazakhstan|
|47.||Dnieper||2,287||1,421||516,300||1,670||Black Sea||Russia, Belarus, Ukraine|
|49.||Ubangi–Uele||2,270||1,410||772,800||4,000||Congo||Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo|
|50.||Negro||2,250||1,450||720,114||26,700||Amazon||Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia|
|51.||Columbia||2,250 (1,953)||1,450 (1,214)||415,211||7,500||Pacific Ocean||United States, Canada|
|52.||Colorado (western U.S.)||2,333||1,450||390,000||1,200||Gulf of California||United States, Mexico|
|53.||Pearl – Zhu Jiang||2,200||1,376||437,000||13,600||South China Sea||China (98.5%), Vietnam (1.5%)|
|54.||Red (USA)||2,188||1,360||78,592||875||Mississippi||United States|
|56.||Kasai||2,153||1,338||880,200||10,000||Congo||Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|58.||Orinoco||2,101||1,306||1,380,000||33,000||Atlantic Ocean||Venezuela, Colombia, Guyana|
|59.||Tarim||2,100||1,305||557,000||Lop Nur||P. R. China|
|61.||Orange||2,092||1,300||Atlantic Ocean||South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho|
|64.||Tigris||1,950||1,212||Shatt al-Arab||Turkey, Iraq, Syria|
|65.||Songhua||1,927||1,197||Amur||P. R. China|
|67.||Don||1,870||1,162||425,600||935||Sea of Azov||Russia, Ukraine|
|71.||Limpopo||1,800||1,118||413,000||Indian Ocean||Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana|
|72.||Guaporé (Itenez)||1,749||1,087||Mamoré||Brazil, Bolivia|
|73.||Indigirka||1,726||1,072||360,400||1,810||East Siberian Sea||Russia|
|75.||Senegal||1,641||1,020||419,659||Atlantic Ocean||Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Mauritania|
|76.||Uruguay||1,610||1,000||370,000||Atlantic Ocean||Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil|
|77.||Murrumbidgee River||1,600||994||Murray River||Australia|
|77.||Blue Nile||1,600||994||326,400||Nile||Ethiopia, Sudan|
|77.||Okavango||1,600||994||Okavango Delta||Namibia, Angola, Botswana|
|77.||Volta||1,600||994||Gulf of Guinea||Ghana, Burkina Faso, Togo, Côte d'Ivoire, Benin|
|86.||Jubba–Shebelle||1,580*||982*||Indian Ocean||Ethiopia, Somalia|
|87.||Içá (Putumayo)||1,575||979||Amazon||Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador|
|89.||Han||1,532||952||Yangtze||P. R. China|
|91.||Pecos||1,490||926||Rio Grande||United States|
|92.||Upper Yenisei -- Little Yenisei (Kaa-Hem)||1,480||920||Yenisei||Russia, Mongolia|
|93.||Godavari||1,465||910||312,812||3,061||Bay of Bengal||India|
|94.||Colorado (Texas)||1,438||894||Gulf of Mexico||United States|
|95.||Río Grande (Guapay)||1,438||894||102,600||264||Ichilo||Bolivia|
|99.||Dniester||1,411 (1,352)||877 (840)||Black Sea||Ukraine, Moldova|
|1,400||870||Lake Balkhash||P. R. China, Kazakhstan|
|103.||Sutlej||1,372||852||Chenab||China, India, Pakistan|
|107.||Mtkvari (Kura)||1,364||848||Caspian Sea||Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey, Iran|
|109.||Brazos||1,352||840||Gulf of Mexico||United States|
|111.||Liao||1,345||836||Bo Hai||P. R. China|
|112.||Yalong||1,323||822||Yangtze||P. R. China|
|115.||Northern Dvina – Sukhona||1,302||809||357,052||3,332||White Sea||Russia|
|116.||Krishna||1,300||808||Bay of Bengal||India|
|118.||Lomami||1,280||795||Congo||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|122.||Upper Mississippi||1,236||768||Mississippi||United States|
|123.||Rhine||1,233||768||198,735||2,330||North Sea||Germany, France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy (minimal), Belgium, Luxembourg|
|124.||Elbe–Vltava||1,252||778||148,268||711||North Sea||Germany, Czech Republic|
|1,190||739||Songhua||P. R. China|
|132.||Kızıl River||1,182||734||115,000||400||Black Sea||Turkey|
|133.||Green||1,175||730||Colorado (western U.S.)||United States|
|134.||Milk||1,173||729||Missouri||United States, Canada|
|136.||Sankuru||1,150||715||Kasai||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|137.||Red (Asia)||1,149||714||143,700||2,640||Gulf of Tonkin||China, Vietnam|
|138.||James (Dakotas)||1,143||710||Missouri||United States|
|139.||Kapuas||1,143||710||South China Sea||Indonesia|
|140.||Desna||1,130||702||88,900||360||Dnieper||Russia, Belarus, Ukraine|
|140.||Madre de Dios||1,130||702||125,000||4,915||Beni||Peru, Bolivia|
|145.||Sepik||1,126||700||77,700||Pacific Ocean||Papua New Guinea, Indonesia|
|147.||Anadyr||1,120||696||Gulf of Anadyr||Russia|
|147.||Paraíba do Sul||1,120||696||Atlantic Ocean||Brazil|
|149.||Jialing River||1,119||695||Yangtze||P. R. China|
|153.||Kwango||1,100||684||263,500||2,700||Kasai||Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|155.||Gambia||1,094||680||Atlantic Ocean||The Gambia, Senegal, Guinea|
|158.||Ghaghara||1,080||671||127,950||2,990||Ganges||India, Nepal, China|
|160.||Aras||1,072||665||102,000||285||Kura||Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran|
|161.||Chu River||1,067||663||62,500||none||Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan|
|162.||Seversky Donets||1,078 (1,053)||670 (654)||Don||Russia, Ukraine|
|164.||Fly||1,050||652||Gulf of Papua||Papua New Guinea, Indonesia|
|166.||Kuskokwim||1,050||652||Bering Sea||United States|
|169.||Aruwimi||1,030||640||Congo River||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|170.||Daugava||1,020||634||87,900||678||Gulf of Riga||Latvia, Belarus, Russia|
|171.||Gila||1,015||631||Colorado (western U.S.)||United States|
|1,006||625||80,100||Atlantic Ocean||Spain, Portugal|
- When the length of a river is followed by an asterisk, it is an average of multiple information sources. If the difference in lengths between given information sources is significant, all lengths are listed. But if the lengths from secondary information sources are similar, they are averaged and that figure has an asterisk.
- Scientists debate whether the Amazon or the Nile is the longest river in the world. Traditionally, the Nile is considered longer, but recent information suggests that the Amazon may be longer. Differences in the recorded length of the Amazon mainly depend on whether or not it is valid to take a course south of the Ilha de Marajó at the Amazon's mouth. New evidence, (dated 16 June 2007) obtained from a high-altitude scientific venture in the Andes, claims that "the Amazon is longer than the Nile by 100km, with its longest headwater being the Carhuasanta stream originating in the south of Peru on the Nevado Mismi mountain's northern slopes and flowing into the Río Apurímac". However, the origin of the river at Nevado Mismi had already been known more than one decade earlier (see Jacek Palkiewicz), and satellite based measuring from this origin to the Amazon mouth has resulted in not more than 6,400 km.
- Generally, the most commonly used/anglicised name of the river is used. The name in a native language or alternate spelling may be shown.
- The exact percentage of each river in countries may be disputed (including the effects of political frontier disputes) or unknown.
River systems that may have existed in the past
The Congo basin is completely surrounded by high land, except for its long narrow exit valley past Kinshasa, including waterfalls around Manyanga. That gives the impression that most of the Congo basin was formerly on a much higher land level and that it was rejuvenated by much of its lower course being removed.
Before the tectonic breakup of Pangea during Permian and early Triassic times, Africa and South America were part of one supercontinent, and the Congo probably drained into the Amazon basin and eventually into the Pacific. Including part of its course that was completely lost when the South Atlantic opened, its total course may have been anything up to approximately 12,000 km (7,500 mi) long.
West Siberian Glacial Lake drainage
This river would have been about 10,000 km (6,200 mi) long, in the last Ice Age. See West Siberian Glacial Lake. Its longest headwater was the Selenga river of Mongolia: it drained through ice-dammed lakes and the Aral Sea and the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea.
Formerly Lake Tanganyika drained northwards into the White Nile, making the Nile somewhere around 1,400 kilometres (870 mi) longer, until in the Miocene the Virunga Volcanoes arose and blocked its course. Also, when the Mediterranean was dry during the Messinian Salinity Crisis, the Nile extended northwards over the dry seabed and thus may have gained 160 kilometres (99 mi) or more in length.
The Eridanos was a large river during the Baventian Stage about two million years ago in the late early Pleistocene, when the Baltic Sea was all land. It was about 2700 kilometres or about 1700 miles long, a little shorter than the modern Danube. It began in Lapland, and then flowed through the area of the modern-day Gulf of Bothnia and Baltic Sea to western Europe, where it had an immense delta which spanned almost all the current North Sea. It was comparable in size to the current-day Amazon River mouth.
When the Mediterranean Sea was dry or much lower during the Messinian Salinity Crisis, the Po would have extended its course south-eastwards in what is today the seabed of the Adriatic Sea, more or less doubling its current length (652 km), likely varying seasonally according to how far it managed to flow across the hot dry seabed until it dried.
- Shortest river: D River, Roe River, Ombla River and Reprua River, all four of which are claimed to be the world's shortest river.
- List of drainage basins by area
- List of rivers by discharge
Notes and references
- The Nile is usually said to be the longest river in the world, with a length of about 6,650 km, and the Amazon the second longest, with a length of at least 6,400 km. In recent decades debate has intensified over the true source and therefore the length of the Amazon River. Brazilian and Peruvian Studies in 2007 and 2008 added the waterway from the Amazon's southern outlet through tidal canals and the Pará estuary of the Tocantins and then concluded that the Amazon has a length of 6,992 km and was longer than the Nile, whose length was calculated as 6,853 km. However, as of 2010 the length of both rivers remains open to interpretation and continued debate.
- for more on this, see coastline paradox
- "Amazon river 'longer than Nile'". BBC News. 16 June 2007. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
- "Studies from INPE indicate that the Amazon River is 140km longer than the Nile". Brazilian National Institute for Space Research. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
- "Amazon River". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
- "Nile River". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
- Largest Rivers in the United States, United States Geological Survey.
- "Río de la Plata". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
- http://www.ga.gov.au/education/geoscience-basics/landforms/longest-rivers.html GeoScience Australia
- "Impact of Humans on the Flux of Terrestrial Sediment to the Global Coastal Ocean". Archived from the original on 2006-09-19. Retrieved 2006-02-27.
- "River and Drainage System of Bangladesh". Retrieved 2007-02-27.
- Parua, Pranab Kumar (3 January 2010). The Ganga: water use in the Indian subcontinent. Springer. p. 272. ISBN 978-90-481-3102-0. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
- Bossche, J.P. vanden; G. M. Bernacsek (1990). Source Book for the Inland Fishery Resources of Africa, Volume 1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. p. 338. ISBN 978-92-5-102983-1.
- Bossche, J.P. vanden; G. M. Bernacsek (1990). Source Book for the Inland Fishery Resources of Africa, Volume 1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. p. 333. ISBN 978-92-5-102983-1.
- Daily Telegraph, Monday 18 June 2007, page 18
- "Amazon river flowed into the Pacific millions of years ago". mongabay.com. Retrieved 2006-02-27.
- Time Almanac 2004
- Principal Rivers of the World[unreliable source?]
- EarthTrends Watersheds of the World World Resources Institute
- Amazon river 'longer than Nile' (BBC)