The Longest Rivers in the World

The Nile River and the Amazon River are frequently compared in length. The Nile River is often regarded as one of the world’s longest rivers.

Identifying the world’s longest river is a difficult undertaking. Although most of us would choose the Nile River, A group of scholars believes the Amazon River is the true winner of this award. The difficulty in identifying a unanimous winner stems from the difficulties in finding the headwaters or origin of a river. Rivers with several origins, such as the Nile and the Amazon, have numerous major and smaller tributaries. If the true length of a river to be approximated, the river’s farthest source must be located. Such sources are usually discovered in distant and inaccessible areas, making identification challenging. According to established criteria, we list the world’s five longest rivers/river systems here. However, when fresh sources of such rivers are discovered, the ranks might vary in the future.

Longest Rivers in the World
Longest Rivers in the World ( Image Credit: Flickr )

The World’s Longest Rivers By Length 

1. Nile River – 6,693 km 

Although most people associate the Nile with Egypt, it is truly an international river shared by 11 African countries. Nonetheless, it is the principal source of water in two countries: Egypt and Sudan. The Blue and White Niles are the river’s two tributaries, with the latter being longer than the former. The source of the White Nile is unclear, however it is believed to be in Burundi or Rwanda. Lake Victoria, according to some accounts, is the source of the White Nile, which is fed by the Kagera River, which has two main tributaries: the Ruvyironza and Nyabarongo rivers of Burundi and Rwanda, respectively. The Kagera River is produced when these two rivers meet near the Tanzania-Rwanda border. The Blue Nile has a more established origin in Ethiopia’s Lake Tana. The two tributaries merge in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. The Nile River flows through Egypt before forming a delta and draining into the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile River is 4,258 kilometers long, according to the USGS. It is the world’s longest river as well as Africa’s longest river.

2. Amazon River – 6,436 km 

In terms of discharge volume, the Amazon River is without a doubt the world’s largest river. However, its claim to be the world’s second-longest river is hotly debated, as Egypt’s Nile River has long maintained the title. The dispute derives from determining the Amazon’s origin. Until recently, the headwaters of the Apurmac River were assumed to be the source of the Amazon. According to a 2014 study, the Amazon’s roots may be traced back to the Cordillera Rumi Cruz, where Peru’s Mantaro River starts. This river then joins the Apurmac River (whose headwaters were formerly thought to be the source of the Amazon), and additional tributaries join the river downstream to create the Ucayali River, which eventually joins the Maraón River to form the main stem of the Amazon River. However, opponents of this metric point out that the study was never published.

3. Yangtze River – 6,378 km 

The Yangtze River is the world’s third longest river and the only one that runs entirely within one country. It is also Asia’s longest river. One-third of China’s population lives in the Yangtze River basin, making it the world’s most populated country. The Yangtze River might have two origins. The Chinese government has historically recognized the Tuotuo tributary in the Tanggula Mountains as the river’s source. It is without a doubt the Yangtze’s highest point, rising 17,526 feet above sea level. According to new study, the Yangtze River’s headwaters originate near the Jari Hill, where the Dam Qu tributary begins. These and other tributaries combine to produce the enormous Yangtze River, which eventually empties into the East China Sea near Shanghai.

4. Mississippi/Missouri – 5,970 km 

The Mississippi, Missouri, and Jefferson river systems are the world’s fourth longest. The river system drains 31 US states as well as two Canadian provinces. The Mississippi River is supposed to have its origins in northern Minnesota, near Lake Itasca, and flows into the Gulf of Mexico. If we take the Jefferson River to be the Mississippi River’s most distant source, we get the Mississippi-Missouri-Jefferson river system.

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5. Yenisei/Angara – 5,539 km 

This is the fifth-longest river system in the world, as well as the largest to flow into the Arctic Ocean. The Selenge River is thought to be the system’s headwaters. The Selenge River, which feeds into Lake Baikal, is 992 kilometers long. The Angara River flows from Lake Baikal at Listvyanka through Russia’s Irkutsk Oblast before entering the Yenisei River near Strelka. The Yenisei eventually drains into the Arctic Ocean. The total mileage covered is 5,539 miles.

What is the World’s Longest River?

There is debate about whether the Amazon or Nile rivers are longer, and which should be designated the world’s longest river. Scholars, on the other hand, concur that the Amazon seems to be substantially longer, at 4,325 miles. The Nile River is estimated to be 4,258 kilometers long.

The 15 Longest Rivers in the World

RankRiverLength (miles)Length (km)
8Río de la Plata-Paraná3,0304,876

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