Rivers play an invaluable role in society by providing drinking water and helping shape landscapes and supporting ecosystems.
Some rivers can stretch over an incredible distance! Some even cross multiple countries like Russia’s Ob and Irtysh Rivers.
Other rivers exhibit unusual colors; for instance, South American’s “blackwater” rivers feature waters which look similar to strong black tea!
The Nile River
The Nile River, which covers approximately 10 percent of Africa and 11 countries, has long been recognized for shaping civilizations along its course – in ancient Egypt and other places alike. Additionally, its paleoclimatic history, including shifts in its hydro-climate has contributed to both its expansion and contraction over time – impacting multiple complex societies along its course.
Before dams were built, the annual Nile flood, caused by heavy rainfall in Ethiopia and South Sudan, could be unpredictable. To keep track of it reliably, Egyptians used Nilometers – ancient weather stations – as part of their calendar to monitor it.
The Nile’s waters provide habitat to hippopotamuses, Nile crocodiles and soft-shelled turtles – as well as food for people living along its floodplains – but its greatest asset lies within its mud; used as building material for numerous pyramids and temples along its path. Many other rivers around the world have had an impactful influence on their environments as the Nile has done.
The Niger River
The Niger River is the centerpiece of Western Africa and ranks as the third longest river worldwide with 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers). Rising in Guinea and flowing northeast towards its source before curving around to Mali and into northern Benin before eventually entering Nigeria is it one of Africa’s major rivers.
From its source to Bamako, the Niger is remarkable clear due to the lack of major cities between its source and Bamako; consequently there’s minimal silt production along the river’s route that clogs it up.
The Niger is widely known for its vast tracts of irrigated land that yield crops like cotton, sugarcane and rice. Each year’s flooding deposit layers of fertile soil on its banks. Many tributaries also host vibrant fisheries; however pollution from oil companies has dramatically affected this industry.
The Danube River
The Danube is Europe’s second-longest river. Starting its journey in Germany and moving southeast across four capital cities – Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade – before flowing into the Black Sea as its final destination.
The Danube has inspired numerous works of art, from Monet’s water lilies to Johann Strauss’s iconic Blue Danube Waltz. Additionally, its waters have played a pivotal role in shaping Central and Southeastern European history by serving as an imperial boundary.
Riverbanks along the Danube are lined with historic monasteries, palaces, and castles dating back centuries. Both banks of the river are popular spots for strolling during spring and summer strolls; Old Town side is especially desirable. Enjoy basking in some sun while listening to local musicians play their music amidst gorgeous Pedunculate oaks and Clematis that bloom along its banks providing an exquisitely colorful background for your walk along the waterway.
The River Thames
The River Thames is England’s longest river and boasts an incredible history. It’s well-known as being the location of numerous palaces such as Windsor Castle, Hampton Court and Richmond – not to mention being popular for sailing and rowing activities.
Past commercial activities included eel fishing and coppicing willows to make baskets. Watermills produced flour and paper; although many have now closed down. Still, houseboats continue to live along its banks today.
City rivers tend to be dirtier than rural ones due to increased litter and sewage run-off. Luckily, Londoners have worked to clean up the Thames since centuries ago when it often froze over wintertime and people would hold “Frost Fairs”, similar to Christmas markets but held right on its ice!
The Amazon River
The Amazon River is the world’s largest drainage system. Carrying one fifth of all Earth’s surface water, its volume exceeds that of six of its closest competitors combined.
The Amazon River contains over 1,100 tributaries, 17 of which stretch for 930 miles or longer, creating an immense biodiversity hotspot where many animals thrive in its flooded forests. Some notable species found here include giant otters (arapaima), boto dolphins (boto), and of course terrifying piranhas!
Geologists discovered that this river originally flowed east-to-west before the Andes Mountains caused its flow to reverse. Now it produces one of the world’s largest deltas – an immense body of salty and fresh water mixed together to form one large pool.
The Yangtze River
The Yangtze River is an unparalleled natural wonder with a long and distinguished history in Chinese and world culture. From the iconic Three Gorges Dam to endangered species that call this remarkable river home, there is much to discover about this spectacular waterway.
The Yangtze River, Asia’s longest and third longest worldwide, is an impressively vast waterway with more than 700 tributaries that carry three-fourths of China’s internal commerce, irrigate a third of their grain production, and produce 25 percent of their rice production.
An enjoyable cruise along the Yangtze River can be an extraordinary experience, taking you back in time as you pass fishermen catching fish with large nets, families working rice fields and monasteries perched high upon cliff walls. While pollution from industry and agriculture has left its mark, efforts are underway to restore its former splendor.
The Lena River
The Lena River offers travelers an unforgettable experience. After being frozen most of the year, it starts thawing out in mid-May and becomes a torrential flood, flooding plains with water and transporting huge blocks of ice downstream.
It serves as a primary transport route into the Arctic Ocean and its stunning geological formations have inspired artists and writers throughout history.
Lena River cruises provide an unforgettable way to witness all that it offers – stunning landscapes, Lenskie Shyeky (where walls of rock squeeze the river), rich flora and fauna, ancient culture – as well as its remarkable journey. A cruise on Lena is truly one of the greatest experiences.
The Indus River
The Indus River is one of the world’s most influential waterways, providing sustenance for millions living along its banks as well as providing sustenance for both plants and animals in its vicinity.
The Indus River is also an important migratory thoroughfare, and each year thousands of birds travel down its banks on their journeys north for breeding grounds. Humans depend on it for various resources; however, climate change will likely make its future uncertain and threaten its existence altogether.
The Indus River is well known for its heavy sediment load that comes down from the Himalayas and deposits itself into one of Asia’s largest river deltas. Additionally, this ancient river was an inspiration to various ancient cultures and later gave birth to several countries – India and Pakistan being among them.
The Volga River
The Volga River is Europe’s longest river and an integral component of Russian spiritual culture; revered as “Mother Russia.” Additionally, it serves as an essential trade nexus between Scandinavia, Khazaria and Persia.
This powerful river winds its way through forests and wetlands before reaching the Caspian Sea, drawing its waters from melting snow, underground water sources, raindrops, reservoirs for flood control purposes, as well as feeding sources like melting snow. Melting snow accounts for 60 percent of annual discharge.
The Volga is home to four main tributaries – Kama, Oka, Vetluga and Sura – which contribute to one of Russia’s favorite delicacies: caviar. One female sturgeon can produce up to 10 tons per year! World War 2’s deadliest battle ever took place at Stalingrad on a bend of this river. Furthermore, it serves as an economic center for approximately one third of Russia.
The River Severn
The River Severn offers visitors plenty to experience: historic cities, beautiful landscapes, welcoming pubs and stunning cathedrals can all be found along its shores.
River Severn boasts 21 tributaries that flow into it at various points, such as Rivers Vyrnwy, Banwy and Cain. Furthermore, its waters feed eight canals including Hereford & Gloucester Canal and Worcester and Birmingham Canal.
As well as its breathtaking natural features, you will also discover several beautiful bridges spanning the River Severn including The Iron Bridge (erected at Ironbridge Gorge in 1779 and widely considered the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution), Coalport Bridge was constructed shortly thereafter and Victoria Bridge stands as Britain’s longest bridge of its type. Not to forget Alney Island created by two channels from the River Severn itself!