The 12 Largest Rivers in Africa

Africa is the second-largest continent on the earth in bodily dimension and in inhabitants. The landscapes and ecosystems in Africa are various, starting from tropical rainforests to dry, arid deserts. In every of those distinctive components of Africa, you’ll find an essential river flowing throughout the land. Two of probably the most well-known rivers on the earth are right here in Africa: the Nile River and the Congo River. However there are numerous, many different rivers flowing throughout the African panorama. Let’s check out the 12 largest rivers in Africa. As we discover these rivers, we shall be measuring their dimension primarily based on size, quite than depth or discharge quantities.

12. Okavango River – 1,100 miles (1,700 km)

The Okavango River delta is house to the African Bush Elephant. Prosicky

The Okavango River in South Africa is the twelfth largest river in Africa. The river begins within the highlands of Angola the place it’s known as the “Rio Cubango”. Alongside its journey the river kinds the border between Angola and Namibia. It then flows into Botswana and empties into the Okavango Delta. After the summer season rains journey down river, the Okavango Delta swells to a few occasions its common dimension. The additional-large delta attracts many animals, creating one in all Africa’s biggest concentrations of wildlife.

The jap aspect of the Okavango Delta is house to the Moremi Recreation Reserve of Botswana. The Reserve offers habitats for numerous species of wildlife. Almost 500 species of birds dwell right here, like storks, egrets, herons, ibis, cranes, geese, weaver birds, quail, and geese. There are additionally many mammal species, like cheetahs, lions, wildebeests, buffalo, African bush elephants, zebras, noticed hyenas, widespread warthogs, black-backed jackals, lechwe, impalas, and the African wild canine.

11. Limpopo River – 1,090 miles (1,750 km)

The Limpopo River flows by Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe

The Limpopo River is the eleventh largest river in Africa, flowing in a big arc by Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The river borders Kruger Nationwide Park within the northeastern nook of South Africa. The water of the Limpopo River is quite sluggish and crammed with silt. The part of river between Mokolo and Mogalakwena accommodates the best focus of hippopotamuses within the Limpopo River. When there’s little rainfall, the higher sections of the Limpopo River solely move for 40 days of the 12 months at most.

10. The Kwango – 1,100 miles (1,770 km)

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The Kwango River flows by a valley crammed with diamond alluvial beds

Phil Hyde/

The Kwango River is the tenth largest river in Africa, flowing by Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It begins within the highlands of Alto Chicapa within the Angolan province of Lunda Sul. The river flows south, north, after which west till it crosses the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It joins the Kasi River close to the city of Bandundo, after which empties into the Congo River.

The Kwango River kinds a deep river valley that’s sometimes called “the diamond heartland of North-Jap Angola.” Many diamonds are discovered within the alluvial beds of the Kwango River valley.

9.      Lualaba River – 1,100 mile (1,800 km)

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The Lualaba River passes by many waterfalls and rapids, like Wagenia Falls.

Advert Meskens / Artistic Commons – License

The Lualaba River is the ninth largest river in Africa, positioned totally throughout the jap Democratic Republic of the Congo. The river is 1,100 miles lengthy, passing by many waterfalls and rapids. Over 30 species of freshwater elephantfish, African tetras, and cichlids dwell throughout the Lualaba River.

The Lualaba River kinds the northern and western boundary of the Upemba Nationwide Park. The park is crammed with quite a lot of landscapes: grasslands, forests, woodlands, tropical rainforests, marshes, wetlands, lakes, and streams. There are 1,800 completely different species of wildlife within the Upemba Nationwide Park. Many threatened and endangered hen species dwell right here as nicely, just like the shoebill, noticed ground-thrush, and wattled crane.

8.      Shebelle River – 1,130 miles (1,820 km)

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The Shebelle River’s title means “leopard river”

The Shebelle River in East Africa is the eighth-largest river in Africa, measuring 1,130 miles lengthy. It begins within the Ethiopian Highlands and flows by the Ogaden Plateau. The river crosses into Somalia and continues south to Balcad. When there are heavy rainfalls, the Shebelle River swells to the Jubba River and collectively they move into the Indian Ocean. Nonetheless, throughout dry years the Shebelle River merely disappears into the marshes and sand flats. The Shebelle River’s title comes from a Somali time period, Webi Shabeelle, which implies “leopard river”.

7.      Orange River – 1,300 miles (2,092 km)

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The Orange River is house to many endemic fish that aren’t discovered anyplace else

The Orange River is the biggest river in South Africa, and the seventh-largest river in all of Africa. It begins within the Drakensberg Mountains in Lesotho, flowing west by South Africa to the Atlantic Ocean. Alongside its 1,300-mile journey, the Orange River kinds a part of the worldwide borders between South Africa and Lesotho, and between South Africa and Namibia. Many water sports activities are fashionable on the Orange River, like whitewater rafting, canoeing, and fly fishing.

Though the Orange River is massive, there aren’t as many species of fish residing right here as there are in different African rivers. Nonetheless, there are some endemic fish which are solely discovered within the Orange River, like rock-catfish, Namaquab barb, Maluti redfin, river sardine, largemouth yellowfish, smallmouth yellowfish, and Orange River mudfish.

The river itself isn’t truly orange. It was named by the Dutch explorer Robert Jacob Gordon after a Dutch ruling household, the “Home of Orange”. Nonetheless, the Jap Cape Geographical Names Committee intends to vary this title because of its historical past of colonial subjugation.

6.      Kasai River – 1,338 miles (2,153km)

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The Kasai River is crammed with many spectacular waterfalls and rapids

Soumyadeep Paul/

The Kasai River is the sixth-largest river in Africa. The river begins in central Angola and flows east till it reaches the border between Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Right here it turns north and serves as a border between the 2 nations till it eventually crosses into the Democratic Republic of the Congo and joins the Congo River. Alongside its 1,338-mile-long journey, the Kasai River passes by many spectacular rapids and waterfalls.

5.      Ubangi-Uele River – 1,410 miles (2,270 km)

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The Ubangi-Uele River is among the greatest rivers in Central Africa


The Ubangi-Uele River is the fifth-largest river in Africa. The river Ubangi is joined by its headstream, the Uele, and flows for 1,410 miles to the Congo River. The Ubangi-Uele River joins the Congo River at Liranga within the Republic of the Congo.

4.      Zambezi River – 2,200 miles (3,540 km)

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The Victoria Falls within the Zambezi River are named for Queen Victoria

Eva Mont/

The Zambezi River is the fourth-largest river in Africa. It begins in Zambia and flows for two,200 miles earlier than it empties into the Indian Ocean. A number of the calmer stretches of water are house to Nile crocodiles, hippopotamuses, and monitor lizards. Victoria Falls, one of many Seven Pure Wonders of the World, is a part of the Zambezi River.

The Zambezi River offers a house to a number of hundred species of fish, like catfish, yellowfish, cichlids, tigerfish, and bull sharks. Typically the bull shark is even known as the Zambezi shark. The river additionally helps many species of birds like egrets, pelicans, herons, and the African fish eagle.

3.      Niger River – 2,600 miles (4,184 km/4,200)

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The Niger River was essential to human progress in Africa

Homo Cosmicos/

The Niger River is the third-largest river in Africa, and the principle river of West Africa. It’s generally known as the “pulse” of West Africa. The river begins within the Guinea Highlands close to the Sierra Leone border. It flows for two,600 miles in a boomerang-type form by Benin, Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria. The river empties within the Gulf of Guinea by the huge Niger Delta.

The water of the Niger River is comparatively clear and is house to 243 fish species. 20 of those fish are endemic, which implies they’ll solely be discovered right here within the Niger River.

2.      Congo River – 2,900 miles (4,700km)

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The Congo River accommodates a piece of enormous rapids named Livingstone Falls, in honor of David Livingstone

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The Congo River is the second-largest river in Africa by size, and the second-largest river on the earth by discharge and quantity (following the Amazon River). It is usually the deepest river on the earth. Components of the Congo are greater than 720 ft deep. The Congo River begins within the highlands of northeastern Zambia. It flows in an arc-shape for two,900 miles earlier than draining into the Atlantic Ocean within the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Congo River and its tributaries move by the Congo Rainforest, the second-largest rainforest on the earth. Many crops and animals within the Congo River basin dwell nowhere else on earth. It’s essential to the ecological steadiness of your entire African continent.

This river is probably the most highly effective river in Africa. Within the decrease part of the Congo River are Livingstone Falls, a succession of huge rapids and churning water. It might appear not possible for something to dwell in waters that gush as much as 30 miles an hour, and but there are a whole lot of species of fish which have tailored to residing within the Congo River. Elephantfish, for instance, are barely electrified! These fish have an electrical organ that helps them to speak and sense the setting round them. This distinctive adaptation permits elephantfish to dwell throughout the Congo River’s turbulent waters.

1.      Nile River – 4,100 miles (6,600 km)

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The Nile River was as soon as thought of the longest river on the earth, and it’s the longest in Africa

The Nile River is the biggest river in Africa, measuring 4,100 miles lengthy. It flows by 10 nations in Africa: Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi. It was as soon as believed to be the longest river on the earth. New measurements recommend that the Amazon River could also be just a bit longer.

The Nile River is probably the most well-known river in Africa, and definitely one of the crucial well-known rivers on earth. It’s the main water supply for Egypt, Sudan, and South Sudan. The river can be essential for transportation, buying and selling, and irrigation. Many animals dwell within the Nile River, like hippopotamuses, Nile crocodiles, Nile perch, and tilapia.

The Nile River carries little water in comparison with different rivers in Africa. Nonetheless, the water on this river is wealthy in silt deposits and vitamins that assist crops develop within the desert. It’s the very best location for rising water hyacinth and naturally, papyrus. Papyrus was utilized by historic Egyptians to make bins, fabric, rope, and paper.

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