Rivers in Africa Continent by Length and Size

Posted By Maria Sep 18, 2015

Africa – A Land of Diverse Terrains:

Africa – the world’s second largest and second most populous continent – is a land of rivers, deserts, plains and rain forests. There are hundreds of small and long rivers in Africa continent, flowing through different countries. Africa also houses the world’s longest river, i.e. the Nile, which passes through and shares its water resources with as many as eleven different countries. Other major rivers in Africa continent include Congo River, Niger River, Zambezi, Orange River, Kasai River, Lualaba River, Senegal River, Limpopo River, and so on.

All of these rivers stretch over the length of at least 1,000 kilometers. Here, in this article, you will find useful information about rivers in Africa by length. Each of the rivers has its own peculiarities and geographical characteristics. Let’s learn about them and add to your knowledge of the geography of the world.

The Nile – Longest River in Africa and the World:

Length6853 km
Basin Area3.4 million km²
SourcesWhite Nile, Blue Nile
CountriesSudan, Egypt
Islands in NileElephantine, Philae, Gezira Island, El Nabatat Island, Rhoda Island, Bigeh, Sehel Island, Tuti Island, Saï, Agilkia, Abatos, Rahmaniya Island, Argo Island, Askut, Badien Island, Meinarti
CitiesCairo, Khartoum, Jinja, Juba
Rivers in Africa - Nile River

Where is the world’s longest river located? The Nile is the longest river not only in the continent of Africa but also the world in general. Originating in the high mountains of the Central Africa, it passes through eleven different countries and shares its water resources with them. At a later stage, it takes the north-eastern path finally ending at the Nile River Delta. At this point, it is emptied into the Mediterranean Sea. The total distance that river covers from its origin to end is over 6,800 kilometers.

This river has got immense historical significance as its water and fertile banks have served as the birthplace for one of the world’s oldest civilizations. The people of Sudan and Egypt have been the special beneficiaries. They have been using it for irrigation and domestic needs. Here is one of the strange Nile river facts which you may not have heard of ever before. It is: though associated with Egypt, only 22% of the total course of Nile lies in the country! Do you know why all the tombs of ancient Egyptians are lying to the west of Nile? It is because the Egyptians believed that the eastern side of the river was the place of life and birth while its western side was considered as the land of death and decay.

Congo River – Second Longest River of Africa:

Length4700 km
Basin Area4.014 million km²
SourcesEast African Rift, Chambeshi River, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Mweru
CountriesDemocratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Congo
TributariesUbangi River, Kasai River, Aruwimi River, Lulonga River, Ebola River, Lualaba River, Sangha River, Kwango River, Lomami River, Alima, Lefini River, Inkisi River, Mongala River, Maringa River
CitiesKinshasa, Brazzaville, Kisangani, Matadi, Mbandaka, Muanda Democratic Republic of the Congo, Boma Democratic Republic of the Congo
Rivers in Africa - Congo River

Also known as Zaire River, the Congo River has earned the title of being the world’s deepest river having the measured depth of over 220 meters. With the total length of 4,700 kilometers, it ranks as the second longest river in Africa and the 9th longest river in the world. Two African countries, namely the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo derive their name from the name of this river. Actually, in the past, there used to be the kingdom of Congo at its bank.

What do you know about rivers in Africa by size? In terms of discharge, Amazon is the largest river in the world while the second position goes to the Congo River. Do you know the total area covered by the Congo River? Well, it covers an area of around four million square kilometers which equals 13% of the total landmass of the African continent. This famous river of Africa crosses the equator for two times.

Niger River

Length4180 km
Basin Area2.118 million km²
SourcesGuinea Highlands
CountriesNigeria, Mali, Niger, Benin, Guinea
TributariesSokoto River, Kaduna River, Benue River, Bani River
CitiesNiamey, Bamako, Timbuktu, Onitsha, Lokoja, Tembakounda
Rivers in Africa - Niger River

The Niger occupies third place on the list of the longest rivers in Africa. The first and second position, in this regard, goes to the Nile and the Congo River, respectively. This principal river of the western Africa measures 4,180 kilometers in its total extent. Mungo Park, the Scottish explorer, was the first person from the west who sailed to the central portion of the river. The headwaters of the Niger River lie in the ancient rocks which release so less amount of silt. That is why its water is ten times clearer than that of the Nile. As is the case with the Nile, the Niger River is on flood every year. The flooding starts in the month of September and reaches its peak in November. A large number of tributaries come into contact with the Niger River and contribute to its water.

Zambezi River

Length2574 km
Basin Area1.39 million km²
CountriesMozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Botswana, Namibia
TributariesShire River, Kabompo River, Kafue River, Luangwa River, Cuando River, Luena River
CitiesVictoria Falls, Livingstone, Tete (Mozambique), Katima Mulilo, Mongu, Kariba (Zimbabwe), Sesheke, Lukulu, Songo (Mozambique)
Rivers in Africa - Zambezi River

Do you know the name of the largest river of Africa that empties into the Indian Ocean? It is Zambezi River with the basin area of around 1.4 million square kilometers which is nearly 50% percent of the Nile. The total length of 2,574 kilometers makes it the fourth longest river in Africa. The origin of the river lies in Namibia from where it heads towards Mozambique while touching the borders of the countries of Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Chavuma Falls, Ngonye Falls and Victoria Falls are notable features of the river. Among these, Victoria Falls are very popular around the world. Cahora Bassa Dam and Kariba Dam are two major dams on the river which are used to produce hydropower. The hydroelectric power generated by the Kariba Dam is supplied to the neighboring countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Orange River

Length2200 km
Basin Area0.973 million km²
SourcesDrakensberg, Lesotho, Maloti Mountains (Lesotho)
CountriesSouth Africa, Lesotho, Namibia
TributariesCaledon River, Vaal River, Fish River (Namibia)
CitiesUpington, Kakamas, Vioolsdrif, Noordoewer, Keimoes, Orania (Northern Cape), Hopetown (Northern Cape), Aliwal North, Oranjemund, Prieska, Bethulie, Vioolsdrif, Vanderkloof, Oranjekrag (Eastern Cape)
Rivers in Africa - Orange River

The longest river of South Africa, the Orange River shares its water resources with South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia. In addition to serving as a mark of several provincial borders within South Africa, the Orange River makes international borders between Lesotho and South Africa, and Namibia and South Africa. The economy of South Africa is largely dependent on the water of this river which is used for the purpose of irrigation and the generation of electricity. From its source till the end, the river has a course of 2,200 kilometers. During different periods of history, the river was known with different names, such as Gariep River, Groote River and Senqu River.

Other Rivers in Africa:

  • Kasai River – 2,153 Kilometers
  • Lualaba River – 1,800 kilometers
  • Senegal River – 1,790 kilometers
  • Limpopo River – 1,750 kilometers
  • Volta River – 1,600 kilometers
  • Okavango River – 1,600 kilometers
  • Benue River – 1,400 kilometers
  • Lomami River – 1,280 kilometers
  • Vaal River – 1,210 kilometers
  • Shire River – 1,200 kilometers
  • Sankuru River – 1,150 kilometers
  • Kwango River – 1,000 kilometers
  • Draa River – 1,000 kilometers

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