Molopo River

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Molopo River
Country Botswana and South Africa
Province North West Province and Northern Cape
 - location Between Groot Marico and Lichtenburg, North West Province, South Africa
Mouth Orange River
 - location Near Augrabies Falls National Park, Northern Cape Province
 - elevation 480 m (1,575 ft)
 - coordinates 28°31′02″S 20°12′46″E / 28.51722°S 20.21278°E / -28.51722; 20.21278Coordinates: 28°31′02″S 20°12′46″E / 28.51722°S 20.21278°E / -28.51722; 20.21278
Length 970 km (603 mi)
Basin 367,201 km2 (141,777 sq mi)
Location of the Molopo River's mouth

The Molopo River (Afrikaans: Moloporivier) is one of the main rivers in Southern Africa. It has a length of approximately 960 kilometres and a catchment area of 367,201 km2 with Botswana, Namibia and South Africa sharing roughly about a third of the basin each.[1]


Its source is between Groot Marico and Lichtenburg and the river generally flows first to the west, and then to the southwest from its source. In its middle course the Molopo River forms a significant section of the border between Botswana and South Africa.

River flow is intermittent and when it flows, its water flows very slowly owing to a gradient of only 0.76 m/km. Floods are rare because the vast sandveld areas of the Kalahari Desert on the Namibian side of its basin absorb all water from the seasonal rains. In case of exceptionally heavy and continuous precipitation the flow discharges into the Orange River, which it meets downstream of Augrabies Falls National Park at 28°31′02″S 20°12′46″E / 28.51722°S 20.21278°E / -28.51722; 20.21278.[2] It is believed that this last occurred more than 100 years ago.


The main tributary of the Molopo is the Nossob, whose confluence is some 50 km south of Twee Rivieren, at 890m above sea level. Other tributaries are:[3]


The upper Molopo is part of the Crocodile (West) and Marico Water Management Area and the lower is included in the Lower Vaal Water Management Area. Major dams in the river are the Setumo Dam and the Disaneng Dam, both located near the city of Mafikeng, South Africa, which lies on the banks of the river.

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