The generous waters of Africa’s rivers are invaluable assets for many nations. They draw geographical and political borders, cradle vast swaths of flora and fauna, and provide power, transport, and food to the people living in their basins.
1. Congo River
The Congo River system, the ninth largest in the world and the second longest in Africa, drains more than 1.5 million square miles (4,014,500 square kilometers). This river is so long that it would be longer than all of Australia if you stretched it end to end!
The Nile River is the longest river in Africa and the world’s second-longest river by drainage basin. It extends 4,132 miles (6,650 kilometers), with its sources in equatorial East Africa and ends at the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt. It has two major tributaries: the White Nile and the Blue Nile.
The Niger River is the fourteenth-longest river in the world and the longest river in West Africa. It draws a huge arc across the continent as it winds from Guinea to the Gulf of Guinea, with tributaries in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger (right near the border of Benin), and Nigeria. Its curious shape and direction baffled early explorers.
The fourth-longest river in Africa, the Zambezi stretches 2,693 kilometers from its source at Mwinilunga in Zambia to the Indian Ocean. It flows through 6 countries: Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Mozambique. It’s most famous for creating the stunning Victoria Falls, a Natural Wonder of the World. The Zambezi also powers a number of hydroelectric dams, including the Kariba and Cahora Bassa Dams, which supply electricity to Zambia and Zimbabwe.