40 Interesting Facts About Rivers

  1. The longest rivers in all the inhabited continents are the Nile (Africa), Amazon (South America), Yangtze (Asia), Mississippi (North America), Murray (Australia), and Volga (Europe).
  2. There are thousands of large and small rivers, while around 180 rivers have a length of 1,000 km or more.
  3. Finke River in Australia is the world’s oldest river, with an age of more than 300 million years. The Nile is 30 million years old, which makes it the 7th oldest river. (Source)
  4. The place where the Catatumbo River in Venezuela meets Lake Maracaibo is the most lightning-struck area on earth. The river receives 250 lightning strikes per square km per year. It results in the deaths of many people. (Source)
  5. The Ganges River in India is one of the most polluted rivers in the world due to industrial waste and sewage. But every year, millions of people clean themselves with the water of the Ganges River according to their (Hindu) religious beliefs.
  6. Few freshwater fish such as tomcod and killifish have managed to live in toxic places, like the Hudson River and the Elizabeth River. These fish species have developed resistance to pollution with time. (Source)
  7. The Cuyahoga River in Ohio has caught fire more than 12 times. The reason behind these fires is pollution from nearby factories. (Source)
  8. River Thames in the UK was declared biologically dead in 1957 due to a large amount of pollution. However, now it is considered one of the cleanest rivers in the world. (Source)
    Ship on river Thames
    River Thames is one of the world's cleanest rivers

  9. Rivers and lakes contain far more fish species than seas and oceans. Around 80% of fish species are in freshwaters (rivers and lakes) that cover only 2% of the earth’s surface. (Source)
  10. The Amazon basin contains nearly 15% of fish species in the world. There are at least 2,406 freshwater native fish species in this riverine ecosystem. (Source)
  11. Several freshwater animals and plants live in rivers. Animals such as beavers and otters are keystone species that assist in developing other animals, plants, and the river ecosystem. (Source)
  12. A blackwater river has a high amount of sandy soil in its basins. These highly acidic (3.8 to 5.4 pH) rivers are present in various parts of the world, with the highest proportion in the Amazon basin. The largest blackwater river is the Negro River in Brazil.
  13. Several rivers in different parts of the world have been shifted underground due to human activities. These include Sawmill River (USA), Park River (USA), Wein River (Austria), Bradford Beck River (UK), Neglinnaya River (Russia), and others. (Source)
  14. During the 1980s, the sonar mapping of the seafloor discovered undersea rivers. These rivers are composed of a semi-liquid mixture of silt and sand instead of fresh or salty water. So far, these undersea rivers have been found beneath the Pacific Ocean and the Black Sea. These rivers contain organisms like crustaceans, worms, urchins, sea cucumbers, snails, and clams. (Source)
  15. On 15th January 2009, a US Airways plane landed safely on the Hudson River in the USA after being struck by several large birds. It suffered no fatalities among 155 passengers and crew members on the plane. The incident is known as the Miracle on the Hudson.
  16. Dams are built on rivers. They are a vital source of power generation, flood prevention, and irrigation.
  17. Yellow River is called so because of its yellow color. It is due to the contamination of a large amount of loess (windblown silt) sediment in the river.
  18. Yellow River in China brought the world’s three deadliest floods. The deadliest flood in the world was the 1931 China flood, in which more than 1,000,000 people died. 
  19. A Slovenian swimmer has made four world records by swimming in the Amazon, Danube, Yangtze, and Mississippi rivers. (Source)
  20. The Tamborasi River in Indonesia and the Kovasselva River in Norway are the world’s shortest rivers. There are at least seven rivers with fewer than 100 meters in length. (Source)
  21. There are several countries without rivers. These include countries in the Arabian Peninsula, several island countries, and city-states. The largest of these are Saudi Arabia, and Libya. (Source)
  22. Famous ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Indus Valley civilization, and Yellow River civilization were situated beside large rivers.
  23. Rivers are also helpful in resolving territorial disputes as they form borders between several countries in all the inhabited continents except Australia. A few of the famous international border rivers are the Congo River (DR Congo and the Congo Republic), Orange River (South Africa and Namibia), Yobe River (Niger and Nigeria), Senegal River (Senegal and Mauritania), Colorado River (the USA and Mexico), Detroit River (the USA and Canada), Danube (Romania and Bulgaria), Rhine (GermanyFrance, Switzerland, and the Netherlands), Ganges River (Bangladesh and India), Jordan River (Jordan and Israel), and Shatt al-Arab (Iraq and Iran). 
  24. The deepest river in the world is the Congo River. It has a maximum depth of around 250 meters (820 feet).
    Congo river and mountains
    Congo River is the world's deepest river

  25. Amazon basin is the world’s largest drainage basin, with an area of more than 6 million sq. km. It is followed by the drainage basins of the Congo River and the Nile.
  26. Amazon River is also the world’s widest river. Its width is 6.8 miles (11 km) during the dry season, while its peak width during the rainy season is 24.8 miles (40 km). (Source)
  27. The Yangtze, the world’s third-largest river and the largest in Asia, is the world’s largest river that flows entirely in a single country (China).
  28. Different rivers have importance in several religions. A few of these rivers that have a sacred place in various religions include the Ganges (Hinduism), Jordan River (Judaism and Christianity), and several other rivers in the indigenous religions of South America and other areas. (Source)
  29. Kimberlite pipes (carrot-shaped volcanic pipes) usually contain diamonds. Sometimes, rivers erode these pipes, and we find diamonds in rivers and streams.
  30. A river in Colombia is known as the “River of five colors” or “Liquid Rainbow” due to its multiple colors. These colors (red, green, yellow, black, and blue) belong to aquatic plants and are visible between May and December. (Source)
  31. Rivers form several types of landforms. These include valleys, waterfalls, canyons, gorges, floodplains, lakes, etc.
  32. The chocolate river in the movie “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” was made from real chocolate and cream. By the end of filming, its smell became unpleasant.
  33. Water bridges are navigable bridge-like structures constructed above rivers. The world’s longest is the Magdeburg Water Bridge in Germany with a length of 918 meters. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Barton Swing Aqueduct in the UK are other famous water bridges.
  34. A series of earthquakes near Missouri in February 1812 caused the Mississippi River to flow backward for several hours. These earthquakes of 1811-12 were the most powerful (up to 8.8-magnitude) in American history. (Source)
  35. Rhine II (1999) is the world’s most expensive photograph. This photo of the Lower Rhine was sold for $4.3 million in 2011.
  36. In January 1900, engineers managed to reverse the course of the Chicago River. The purpose of this feat was to protect the river from pollution. It changed the eastern half of the USA into an island. (Source)
  37. An Australian surfer achieved the longest surfing ride on a river in 2016. It happened on a 17.2 km long river wave in the Kampar River, Indonesia. The maximum height of this wave was eight feet. (Source)
  38. The area where rivers meet the ocean is known as brackish water. This water is saltier than the river but less salty than the ocean. Three groups of animals and plants are present in this water: marine, freshwater, and brackish organisms. The initial two groups live in marine and freshwater environments but can tolerate slight disturbance of salt. It is the ideal environment for the brackish group of plants and animals. (Source)
  39. Rivers only provide 20% of the water that flows into the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific oceans. The remaining water arrives through subterranean estuaries. (Source)
  40. Intermittent rivers flow periodically according to the dry and wet conditions of an area. They constitute more than half of the length of the global river system, and their percentage is increasing due to climate change. (Source)


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