Although scientists agree on the order of the longest rivers on the Earth, the exact distances are subject to variation. Here is a list of the ten longest rivers in the world, listed from shortest to longest with consistently approximated distances.
- Amur River
The Amur River, also known as the Heilong Jiang River, is the tenth longest river in the world. Passing through both eastern Russia and China, the Amur river covers a total distance of 2,763 miles (4,444 km). The name Heilong Jiang is the traditional Chinese name for the river, meaning Black Dragon River. The Amur is well known for it’s diversity of fish and other aquatic life, with over 100 different species of fish. Naturally, the fish trade claims the majority of economic activity for towns bordering the river.
- Congo River
The Congo River, previously known as the Zaire River, is located in Northern Africa and is the ninth longest river in the world. Spanning an impressive 2,922 miles(4,700 km), the Congo River traverses 10 different African countries, including Zambia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and The Republic of the Congo. The Congo also holds the title of the deepest river in the world, with depths of up to 750 feet(230m), and it is the second largest river in the world by volume. The Congo gets it’s name from the ancient Kingdom of Kongo, a civilization that lived at the mouth of the river long ago, and depended on the rivers resources for sustenance.
- Paraná River
The Paraná River is located in South America, and with a length of 3,030 miles(4,880 km), it is the eighth longest river in the world. The Paraná passes through Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, and of all South American rivers, it is second in length only to the Amazon River. The name Paraná comes from the Tupi phrase “para rehe onáva”, meaning “like the sea”. The Paraná River is an important source of sustenance and income for fishing villages along the river and it’s tributaries, providing an abundance of fish, as well as an avenue for trade.
- Ob-Irtysh River
The seventh largest river in the world, The Ob-Irtysh River is an immense flowing body of water in Western Siberia, Russia. The Ob River spans approximately 3,364 miles(5,410 km) end to end. It is also the largest estuary in the world. The Ob River’s main uses are irrigation, drinking water, hydro-electric energy, and fishing, all of which have driven the surrounding local economies. Unfortunately, over the past 10 years the river system has been damaged by pollution from nuclear waste, which has taken a toll on the local fisheries. Although the river is frozen over for five to six months out of the year, for the rest of the year transportation on the river is heavy.
- Huang He River
The Huang He River is located in China, and it spans an immense 3,395 miles(5,464 km), making it the sixth longest river in the world. The Huang He River is commonly known as the Yellow River, a name that alludes to the rivers heavy silt deposits, giving it a noticeable yellow hue. The Yellow River is often referred to as “the cradle of Chinese civilization”, because the rivers basin was supposedly the point of origin of ancient Chinese civilizations. The Huang He River has been both a blessing and curse for the Chinese people. It has provided an abundance of necessary resources for China’s ongoing existence, but has also been the culprit behind a number massive floods, which have killed millions of Chinese people in the past.
- Yenisei River
Flowing through Russia and Mongolia, the Yenisei River is the fifth largest river in the world. It is over 3,445 miles(5,539 km) in length, and is the largest river system that flows to the Arctic Ocean. The Yenisei provides Russia with a massive amount of hydro-electric power, through a series of dams in the middle section of the river. One of the main inhabitants of the Yenisei River is the Siberian Sturgeon, which grow up to 200cm. Russians originally settled on the Yenisei River in 1607, where towns were established and trading was initiated.
- Mississippi-Missouri-Jefferson River System
Located in the United States of America, the Mississippi-Missouri-Red Rock River System is the fourth longest river in the world. Although it is technically a series of 3 connected rivers, experts agree that it’s continuity qualifies it as one. This massive river flows through 31 different states, as well as 2 Canadian provinces before emptying out in to the Gulf of Mexico, covering a total of 3,902 miles (6,275 km). The river system was first utilized by the American Indians, both as a means of transportation, as well as for food and drinking water. Starting in the early 1800’s, steamboats dominated the river, carrying both people and goods between states. The river system is still used to this day as a medium of industry in the form of raw material and merchandise transportation, and the commerce surrounding the river system has spurred the growth of many towns and cities since the 1800’s.
- Chang Jiang River (Yangtze)
The Chang Jiang River, most commonly called the Yangtze River, is the third largest river in the world, and the largest river in Asia. It stretches for a stunning 3,917 miles(6,300 km) across China, starting at the glaciers of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and emptying out into East China Sea near Shanghai. The Three Gorges Dam which lies across the river is the largest dam in the world, and the Hydro-Electric power which it supplies provides China with a huge amount of electricity. The Yangtze also provides fish for a now very developed fishing industry, which provides food and income for the surrounding population.
- Amazon River
One of the most famous and notoriously treacherous rivers on Earth, the Amazon River is the second longest river in the world. This immense, snake-like river is approximately 3,976 miles (6,400 km) long, crossing through Brazil, Columbia, and Peru, before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. The Amazon River is the most diversified river in the world in terms of aquatic life, holding over 2,100 species of fish, with more being discovered constantly. As a result of this high fish density, the banks of the Amazon river are home to many native fisherman, who make a living through the fish trade. The Amazon River and it’s surrounding tributaries are famous for containing large populations of pirahna, a vicious meat-eating fish that makes swimming in the river a risky activity, as they have been known to attack humans. The majority of the Amazon River runs through very dense rainforest with densely populated areas few and far between. The largest city along the Amazon is Manaus, which is currently home to 1.7 million people.
- Nile River
And finally, the number one longest river in the world, the Nile. Located in Northeastern Africa, this 4,132 mile (6,650 km) long river traverses 11 different countries, including Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda,Egypt, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, and South Sudan. The Nile holds a particular significance in ancient Egyptian history, as almost all ancient Egyptian civilizations originated along the Nile, including Cairo and Luxor. Currently around 40 million people live in the Nile delta region, which accounts for more than half of Egypt’s entire population.