List of 20 Most Important Rivers in the World

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Check below the list of 20 most important rivers in the world.

Rivers are a major source of fresh water in the world and have supported many civilizations such as those in Mesopotamia and Egypt since the starting of life. Even if today we have modernized ourselves with hi-tech facilities and technology, rivers are still a major and important source of water. As you can see that the significance of rivers in our life is so much, it is considered good to have some knowledge about them. Apart from this, knowledge about the important rivers is also valuable from examination point of view. Many questions are asked in the competitive exam, GK exam, etc about the major rivers of the world. In this article, a list of major rivers of the world along with some basic information about them is provided.

List of Major Rivers of the World

Check out this list of major rivers of the world, along with details like their length, origination, countries in their drainage basin, etc.

1: Nile River

The Nile river that flows through the countries of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Egypt, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan (in the form of headwaters) is the longest river of the world. The river has a length of 6650 kms and has its outflow in the Mediterranean.

2: Amazon River

The Amazon River is the largest river by discharge volume of water in the world and second largest overall. The river flows through Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Guyana and has a length of 6,575 kms. Also, the Amazon basin is the largest drainage basin in the world.

3: Yangtze River

Third largest river of the world that flows through China is the Yangtze River. It is the longest river flowing through the continent of Asia and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. This river has a total length of 6300 kms. A stretch of the upstream Yangtze flowing in western Yunnan is part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4: Yellow River

The Yellow River or Huang He is the second longest river in China having a length of 5464 kms. It flows through nine provinces, and empties into the Bohai Sea. It is called Yellow River because of the perennial color of the muddy water in its lower course. Earlier, it was also known as Black River.

5: Brahmaputra–Tsangpo River

The Brahmaputra–Tsangpo River which flows through India, China, Nepal, Bangladesh, Disputed India-China and Bhutan is the fifteenth longest river with length of 3848 kms. The river originates in the Manasarovar Lake region, near the Mount Kailash and empties into the Bay of Bengal. It is an important river for irrigation and transportation in the region.

6: Zambezi River

The Zambezi River is the fourth-longest river in Africa and stands at thirty-second position overall. Two major falls associated with this river are the Victoria Falls and Chavuma Falls. The total length of the river is 2574 kms and flows through Zambia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Namibia and Botswana. The river provides habitat to a wide variety of animals, fish, birds, etc.

7: River Ganges

One of the most sacred rivers to Hindus, the Ganges or commonly known as the Ganga, is a trans-boundary river of Asia which flows through India and Bangladesh. The river has a total length of 2525 kms and empties into the Bay of Bengal. It is the longest river running in India.

8: Colorado River

The Colorado River is mainly known for its dramatic canyons, whitewater rapids, and eleven U.S. National Parks. This river and its tributaries are a vital source of water for 40 million people. With a total length of 2333 kms, the Colorado river flows through the United States and Mexico and empties into the Gulf of California.

9: São Francisco River

The São Francisco River with a length of 2914 kms is the longest river that runs entirely in Brazilian territory. It is known as ‘the river of national integration’ and is named after Saint Francis of Assisi. The river was called Kaleshí in the now extinct Tuxá language and Opára in the extinct Natú language.

10: Volga River

The Volga River is the longest river in Europe that flows through Central Russia and empties into the Caspian Sea. This river is also termed as national river of Russia. The river has a symbolic meaning in Russian culture and is often referred to as Волга-матушка Volga-Matushka (Mother Volga) in Russian literature and folklore. The total length of this river is 3645 kms.

11: Ob–Irtysh River

Running through Russia, Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia, the Ob–Irtysh River has a total length of 5410 kms. It is the seventh largest river in the world which terminates into the Gulf of Ob.

12: Lena River

The length of the Lena River is 4400 kms and is the second largest Arctic river after the Yenisey and the largest river whose catchment is entirely within Russia. Lena is also the eleventh longest river of the world.

13: Mekong River

The Mekong is the world’s twelfth longest river and the seventh longest in Asia with an estimated length of 4350 kms. The river is also a major trade route between western China and Southeast Asia. It flows through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and empties into the South China Sea.

14: Niger River

With a total length of 4200 kms, the Niger River originates in the Guinea Highlands and terminates in the Gulf of Guinea. This river has different names in the different regional languages and is a principal river of West Africa.

15: Salween River

The Salween River flows through China, Myanmar, Thailand and with a length of 3060 kms stands at twenty-sixth position in the world. People living in the Salween region are relatively isolated from the rest of the world.

16: Rio Grande River

The Rio Grande River flows through United States and Mexico and has a total length of 3057 kms. This river acts as a natural border between the U.S. state of Texas and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas.

17: Vilyuy River

The Vilyuy River is the longest tributary of the Lena River and has a total length of about 2,650 kilometres. It flows through Russia and was first mentioned in the 17th century in connection with the Russian conquest of Siberia. Average discharge of the river is 1480 cubic meters per second.

18: Araguaia River

The Araguaia River is one of the major rivers of Brazil and has a length of 2627 kms. The river terminates into Tocantins near the town of São João. The river forms the border between the states of Goiás, Mato Grosso, Tocantins and Pará.

19: Snake River

The Snake River is the largest tributary of the Columbia River and has a total length of 1735 kms. It is the thirteenth longest river in the United States with drainage area of 279,719 sq. kms. Prehistoric Native Americans lived along the Snake starting more than 11,000 years ago.

20: Uruguay River

The Uruguay River running through Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil has a total length of 1838 kms. It terminates into the Atlantic Ocean. One prominent thing about this river is the submerged canyon which was formed during the Ice Age, when the climate was drier and the river was narrower. Depth of this canyon is up to 100 metres (330 ft) below the bottom of the river channel.


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