Interesting River Facts

Rivers carry freshwater to the oceans, helping plants and animals flourish, while creating unique ecosystems where salt water mixes with freshwater.

The Nile in Africa and Amazon in South America are two of the longest rivers on the planet, boasting lengths over 3,300 kilometers each. Here we will look at some fascinating facts about these fascinating river systems.

The Amazon River

The Amazon River engulfs South America, winding through multiple countries and supporting an abundance of life. It contributes 20% of freshwater from rivers into oceans (that’s an enormous amount!) and supports an endemic pink river dolphin known as boto. Furthermore, the waters around its banks contain many different insects and fish such as dangerous but fascinating piranhas that inhabit its depths.

There are over 1,100 tributaries that feed into the Amazon River, and its waters can fluctuate greatly depending on the season. During dry spells, its width may narrow to 2 miles while during wetter times it may widen up to 30 miles wide. It is one of the deepest rivers on earth – reaching depths up to 100 meters or 330 feet!

Shockingly, there’s not one single bridge crossing the Amazon River! That’s despite it being one of the longest rivers on earth and providing vital lifelines to many nations in South America. One reason may be its vast basin containing marshlands and jungle that makes building bridges expensive and difficult.

As opposed to its more famous cousins such as Yangtze and Nile in Cairo, where there are over one hundred bridges spanning these rivers respectively, Amazon remains relatively untainted but is nonetheless affected by deforestation, pollution, and various other environmental concerns.

Vicente Yanez Pinzon of Spain became the first European to encounter this immense river in March 1500, when he named it Rio Santa Maria del Mar Dulce – which later evolved to its current name of Amazon River. Later in 2007, Slovenian athlete Martin Strel became the first person ever to swim the full length of Amazon River from its headwaters to Atlantic Ocean in an astounding feat that took him 66 days! Indeed, it is an awe-inspiring waterway worth exploring on your South American expedition and Amazon cruise.

The Ganges River

The Ganges River is sacred to Hindus and one of the world’s most vital rivers, flowing between India and Bangladesh and providing fertile land for crops such as rice and wheat to flourish. Unfortunately, however, its waters have also been polluted with untreated sewage waste and tons of garbage each day, becoming a serious health risk to millions who rely on its water sources daily – not to mention being home to an abundance of birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals that call the Ganges home.

The River Ganges begins its journey at Devprayag in Uttarakhand’s Himalayan mountains where it joins forces with Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers to form the Alaknanda-Bhagirathi system, before flowing through Uttarakhand, Bihar and Jharkhand before finally reaching West Bengal where its name changes from “Padma” (river name in Bengali) to Ganges (“Padma” in West Bengal). From West Bengal it then forms its huge delta with Brahmaputra River before continuing south toward Bangladesh and Bangladesh where its Brahmaputra joined forces to form one gigantic delta system forming one massive delta system with Brahmaputra River that eventually flows directly into Bangladesh Bay of Bengal before moving southeast until reaching Bangladesh where it forms another giant delta along its banks with Brahmaputra River eventually reaching Bangladesh where it forms its largest delta along its course into Bangladesh from where its source starts its waters meet: Brahmaputra River to form another huge delta formed with Brahmaputra joining Brahmaputra River before finally merging in Bangladesh before continuing east to join forces with Brahmaputra River before joining forces to form one final massive delta together with Brahmaputra river further southward to form an immense delta with Brahmaputra River eventually met Brahmaputra delta while merging into Bangladesh Bay of Bengal before finally merging to join it forms with its source then Brahmaputra before disflue eventually merging with Brahmapu Tra River before eventually merging delta formed along its Brahmaputra then Brahmapu forming this huge delta formation formed on Bangladesh Bay of Bengal later onward to form another gigantic delta with Brahmapu Tra river further southward to form Brahmapu Tra river finally leaving then Bhara to form into Bay Of Bengal before joining forces to form finally ending up then later than Bengal Bay of Bengal further southeast where finally joining forces to form Brahmaputra river from B.

Another fascinating fact about the Ganges River is that it contains 25 times more dissolved oxygen than any other river worldwide, helping prevent putrefaction of organic matter and keeping food waste intact for decomposition processes to occur. We don’t fully understand why, but its existence helps preserve this unique form of oxygen for use by organisms in its ecosystem.

The Ganges River is well known for its bathing rituals, where millions of pilgrims come each year to purge themselves of sins and renew themselves. Along with bathing, people make offerings of food and flowers which often contain chemicals to maintain brightness for longer, leaching into the water supply and contributing to pollution.

The Ganges River is also home to the endangered freshwater dolphin Platanista gangetica, once found in abundance near cities along its course but now drastically diminished due to pollution and dam construction. Furthermore, this river serves as a vital fishery resource in India.

The Mississippi River

At 2,350 miles long and 41 percent draining capacity, the Mississippi is one of the world’s longest rivers. Serving 41 percent of United States as an essential commercial waterway delivering goods for millions of people while simultaneously supporting wildlife and providing scenic highway for tourists and recreational boaters, its magnitude and importance cannot be overstated.

The Mississippi River flows from Lake Itasca in Minnesota through 10 states before arriving at its mouth in Mexico, boasting a long and distinguished history that parallels that of our entire nation. Native Americans used it as an exchange route, early European explorers explored it, fur traders made use of its waters, soldiers from multiple nations garrisoned posts along its course during America’s frontier days and fur traders regularly navigated its waters during America’s frontier days.

Today’s Mississippi River is controlled and channeled by an elaborate network of dams and levees designed to support its barge traffic. Its upper section, which winds its way through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky states, features 29 locks and dams meant to create a nine-foot deep channel for barge traffic while recreational boating and fishing are popular activities along its banks.

The lower Mississippi River offers its own distinct experience. Twain described it as “Old Man River”, where rough rafts constructed of logs and keel boats were commonly seen navigating its waters alongside steamboats with magnificent spires and paddlewheels – perfect setting for his tales about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

The lower Mississippi River is home to one of the richest populations of freshwater mussels found anywhere. These hardy creatures serve as great indicators of an aquatic ecosystem by filtering and digesting organic material at the bottom. Some mussels live for over 40 years in one spot! Mussels play an integral part in protecting river banks as well as feeding other fish species as well as being food sources for wildlife and humans alike.

The River Thames

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Londoners relied on the Thames as an important means of travel between Westminster and London, using watermen guilds for transport across its surface. By contrast, as containerisation became prevalent trade began to move downriver to Tilbury instead of London with docks closing and focus shifting away from shipping activities in London.

The Thames is an intriguing river for various reasons, being England’s longest river and highly tidal. Twice daily it reverses course as it heads toward the North Sea – this causes its foreshore to change with every rising and falling tide, offering up new treasures every time the tide changes! Plus it offers insight into London’s past as it provides valuable clues of living conditions at that time!

The Thames contains both freshwater and sea water, providing it with ideal habitat conditions for both freshwater and marine fish species. Due to pollution from human activities in the 1800s, fish populations began declining, which eventually resulted in its fishing industry declining dramatically; however, over time this has improved and some measure of recovery has occurred for its fishing industry.

As well as fishing and sailing, the Thames is also an acclaimed location for rowing and canoeing. Additionally, two Summer Olympic Games were hosted here as well as Henley Royal Regatta and Boat Race events.

The River Thames boasts over 200 bridges, from towering structures such as Tower Bridge, making it one of Europe’s most heavily traveled waterways. Furthermore, 17 tunnels ranging from small footbridges to major road and rail tunnels can also be found along its course.

The Thames Path is a National Trail that runs alongside the river, making it Europe’s longest riverside walk. It takes in everything from historic working wharves in Deptford and Greenwich to skyscrapers at Canary Wharf before passing O2 Dome at Greenwich and Thames Barrier along its course.

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