The 100 largest and greatest rivers in the world

The longest rivers in the world

Choosing the longest rivers in the world is a non-trivial task. The beginning of the river is usually considered a tributary that is furthest from the mouth. However, its name is not always the same as the name of the river, which makes it difficult to measure the length. Accuracy in calculations can also be due to seasonal variations.

There are also difficulties with the estuary – some rivers simply do not have it (for example, Kubango). Or the estuary is a funnel-shaped estuary expanding towards the ocean.

In our list we will name the ten longest river systems in the world, taking into account the length of their tributaries.

10. Congo – 4,700 km long


This is the deepest river in the world (measured depth – more than 220 meters) and the second after the Amazon by the size of the catchment area (3680000 sq. km).

The river originates deep in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It is fed by the Lualaba River, which itself is fed by the Luwua and Luapula Rivers. These, in turn, are connected to Lake Mweru and Lake Bangwelo. The Chambeshi River also flows into the Luapula.

The Congo River forms most of the border between the DRC and its eastern neighbor, the Republic of Congo.

The Congo River got its name from the Kingdom of the Congo, which was on the left bank of the river mouth. And the name Zaire, by which the river was known in the 16th and 17th centuries, comes from the Portuguese adaptation of the word nzere (“river”) from the Kikongo language.

9. Amur – 5,052 km


This majestic Far Eastern river originates in Western Manchuria where two major rivers, Shilka and Argun, merge. The Kerulen and Onon rivers are also considered to be the source of the Amur.

The Amur flows eastward along the Russian-Chinese border and slowly becomes a large arc, receiving several tributaries.

The Chinese call the Amur “the Black Dragon River.” According to legend, the Black Dragon defeated the malevolent White Dragon, who was the master of the river and hindered the locals in every way. The Amur is included in the list of the largest rivers of Russia.

8. Lena – Vitim – 5100 km

The easternmost of the three great Siberian rivers (including the Ob and Yenisei), which flow into the Arctic Ocean.

The Lena, together with its right tributary the Vitim, is the eighth largest river on Earth. And the only one in the world, whose entire channel is in the areas of permafrost.

The Lena River has its source in a small swamp ten kilometers west of Lake Baikal.

Spring and summer floods raise the level of the river by 10-15 meters. Because of this, its banks are little inhabited. All the surrounding buildings will be demolished during the spill.

7. Yenisei – 5238 km


Starting from the city of Kyzyl, the Yenisei River follows its northern course into the Kara Sea, where it forms the Yenisei Bay. It serves as a natural border between Western and Eastern Siberia.

The largest tributaries of the Yenisey are the Angara River, the Selenga River and the right tributary of the Selenga, the Ider.

6. Ob – Irtysh – 5410 km


Two huge Siberian rivers, meeting each other, create the longest watercourse in Russia.

The Ob is shorter than the Irtysh. But it is more full-flowing and plays the role of the main river in the Ob-Irtysh chain. It is formed by the confluence of two Altai rivers, the Katun and the Biya.

The beginning of the Irtysh River is in the mountains on the Mongolian-Chinese border. There it is known as the Black Irtysh (or, in Chinese, Ertsisyhe). And the first 450 km of its way the river flows through China. Much longer way – 1735 km it has to go through the lands of Kazakhstan. And then it crosses the border with Russia in the Omsk region. And near Khanty-Mansiysk it meets the Ob River.

So the Irtysh, although not the longest river in the world, has the title of the longest tributary river.

5. Huang He – 5464 km


In Chinese, this river is called “Yellow” because of the color of the silt. It is the third longest river in Asia.

Jersey, an island in the English Channel

Huang He is known as the “Cradle of Celestial Civilization” because of the decisive role it played in the development of Chinese culture. As with the Yangtze, the presence of settlements near the Yellow River dates back to the Paleolithic period, and the fertile basins encouraged the growth of agricultural communities.

Before modern dams were built, the Yellow River was extremely prone to flooding. Because of this, it was given such nicknames as “The Sorrow of China” and “The Whip of the Sons of Han. The worst flood in modern history occurred in China in the spring of 1887 and, according to various sources, killed between 1.5 and 7 million people.

4. Yangtze – from 5800 to 6300 km according to different data


The Yangtze River bears the title of the longest river in Asia. It has played a major role in Chinese history, culture and economy and continues to do so today. Its existence was a key factor in the emergence of human settlements, the growth of agriculture, and the development of civilization in East Asia.

Today, the flourishing Yangtze River Delta produces up to 20 percent of China’s gross domestic product (GDP), and the Three Gorges Dam, located on the Yangtze River, is the first hydroelectric power plant in the world. Because of the impact of human infrastructure, some parts of the river are now protected wilderness areas.

3. Mississippi to Missouri to Jefferson – 6,275 to 6,420 km


This river, as its name might suggest, is completely connected to the United States of America. Although each river individually would not make the top five, they are grouped into one, as the Missouri River meets the Mississippi near St. Louis, and the Missouri joins the Jefferson River in Montana.

2. Nile – 6852 km.


Most people answering the question, “What is the longest river on Earth?” would name the Nile River. Although this “blue vein of Africa” runs mostly through Egypt, it also passes through nine other African countries: Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Most of them are among the poorest countries in the world.

Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria, is considered the main source of the Nile.

About 300 million people depend on this river for water and irrigation of crops. There is even the Aswan Hydroelectric Complex, which harnesses the power of the Nile. It was completed in 1970, and since then this system of facilities has been used to provide electricity to the people of Egypt. It currently provides about 20 percent of the country’s electricity. The Aswan Dam also controls the summer flooding of the Nile, which threatens large-scale flooding.

1. the Amazon – the longest river in the world 6992 km


It is the largest river in the world in terms of catchment area (6915000 sq. km). To compare: the catchment area of the Nile is 3349000 sq. km.

The Amazon contains a staggering 20% of the world’s fresh water, and parts of the river can exceed 190 kilometers in width when the Amazon “swells” during the rainy season. Even in dry conditions, the Amazon is so wide along its entire length that so far no bridge has spanned it. It is home to some of the most beautiful fish species on Earth.

The Amazon is the longest river in the world

However, the debate about which is the longest river in the world, the Amazon or the Nile, has not ceased. It’s all about determining the origin of the Amazon. Scientists and researchers have been trying to determine the source of the river since the 1600s. Over the years, five rivers in southwestern Peru were given the honor of being called the source of the Amazon. Eventually the headwaters of the Apurímac River were considered its source.

A 2014 study concluded that the Amazon originated in the Cordillera Rumi Cruz, upstream of Peru’s Mantaro River. This river then converges with the Apurimac River, and downstream they are joined by other tributaries to form the Ucayali River. Finally, the confluence of the Ucayali and the Marañón Rivers forms the Amazon.

If you consider the latest data, then between 75 and 92 kilometers are added to the length of the Amazon. So the question of what is the longest river on Earth can be confidently answered – the Amazon.

Niue or Savage - the island and state of Niue

Top 12 largest rivers in the world

The River


Since ancient times, the word “water” has been associated with life. Without water, no living organism on planet Earth can live. Today the river water is the main source of drinking water.

Since the Stone Age, man has tried to equip places of habitation close to water. Archaeological excavations exploring Paleolithic sites are proof of this. The first civilizations on Earth originated in ancient times precisely on the banks of rivers. Egyptian Nile – the ancient peoples of Mesopotamia, better known to us as the Mesopotamia – liked the territory between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the Indian civilization – on the banks of the Indus and Ganges, the Chinese – on the banks of the Huanghe and Yangtze.

What is the largest river in the world?

Thousands of rivers encircle the globe. Some carry their waters toward the North Pole, others toward the South Pole. There are rivers that run almost parallel to the equator.

Rivers as protagonists are included in the myths and legends of many nations. Widely revered “water arteries” and the Slavs. The name “mother Volga” alone says a lot. The way “from the Varangians to the Greeks,” passing through the Neva, Lovat and Dnieper, connected the Normans and Byzantines, contributed to the development of Slavic nations. The Scythians and Greeks revered the Dnieper, calling it the Borisphene. The Scythians even bred their people from the union of Zeus and the daughter of the river Borisphene. From this marriage was born the first Scythian, Targitai.

Noting the high importance of rivers in human life, let us tell our story about the largest and most full-flowing rivers in the world.

Lena River

The Evenki call the river “Elyu-Ene” – “big river”, the Russian pioneers when communicating with the local population heard the name as “Lena”. Under this name the river is recorded on the maps. The Evenki were right, indeed the Lena is the largest river in Eastern Siberia.

Lena, carrying its waters across Siberia for 4,294 kilometers, flows into the Laptev Sea of the Arctic Ocean. The Lena spreads out its tributaries over seven major regions of the Russian Federation. Learn about what is the widest river in the world in the article on

The Lena also has its own peculiarities. This is the largest river in the world, the waters of which flow in the permafrost. In addition, the Lena basin is located within one country.

The source of the Lena is located high in the mountains at the foot of a nameless peak of the Baikal range. The river basin is 2,490,000 km², with 180 rivers flowing into the Lena.

The Amur with its tributary Argun


The Amur flows harmoniously through two regions of the Eurasian continent, the Far East and East Asia. It so happens that most of the Amur has become the border between Russia and China.

The river is 2,824 km long, with its right tributary, the Argun, almost twice as long at 4,440 km. The natives of the Far East region called the river “Damur” – a big river. The Chinese call it “Heilongjiang” – the Black Dragon River. Well, how in the Chinese tradition without a dragon.

The Amur flows into the Sea of Okhotsk, forming at its confluence a kind of Amur estuary. The Amur basin is shared by three states – Russia, Mongolia and China, two of which are on the list of the three largest countries in terms of area.

A unique feature of the Amur is its fish fauna. Scientists today count 139 species of fish that live in its waters. The Amur is also the richest salmon river in Eurasia. In its waters 9 species of salmon family spawn.

The Amur is a turbulent river, with frequent floods and channel changes. One of the last major floods occurred in August 2003.

By the way, read our article about the largest fish in the world.

The Mekong

Mekong. CC0

The Mekong, flowing through the territory of nine states, is the largest river of the Indochina Peninsula. The length of the river, which in Asia is called the “Mother of the waters of the Ganges” is 4 500 km.

Mayotte, an overseas department of France

Mekong has its source in Tibetan Plateau, flowing through the mountain gorges at its beginning, the river at the exit to the Cambodian plain, forms a beautiful waterfall Khon, the height of which is 21 meters.

At the city of Phnom Penh the river divides into two branches, which are connected to each other by many small channels. This river delta has a total area of about 70,000 km².

The main filling of the Mekong’s water is the rains, frequent in this region. But the snow and glaciers of the Tibetan ranges also feed the Mekong. People took a fancy to the banks of the river back in 3000 B.C. The first state in this part of Asia, Bapnom, was also formed here.

And there is an interesting article about the world’s highest waterfalls on



This largest tributary of the Mississippi River is formed by the confluence of two small rivers in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. Relatively short at 3,767 km long, the river forms a basin of 1,300,000 km². The Missouri spreads its tributaries across ten U.S. states.

The rich flora and fauna of the Missouri River Basin are in dramatic decline today. As a result, several laws have been passed to protect both the river and its inhabitants, as well as its banks and their diverse flora and fauna.

Europeans learned about the river through the explorations of French travelers, who in 1,673 reached a new river while traveling down the Wisconsin and Mississippi to reach the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The explorers were disappointed when the Missouri led them to the Gulf of Mexico and turned back.

Archaeological studies of the banks of the Missouri have shown that people settled these areas more than 12,000 years ago. Ten Native American tribes lived along the banks of the Missouri at different times.

After the Mississippi was the most navigable river in North America. Today, the volume of traffic on the river is falling.



Since high school, we know how the name of this river is translated from the Chinese language. The Huanghe or “Yellow River” is the largest river in Asia. The peculiarity of the yellow river has also given its name to the sea into which it flows, the Yellow River.

The source of the Huang He is in the Tibetan Plateau at an altitude of 4,000 meters above sea level. The river flows through China and its length in different sources varies from 4,670 km to 5,464 km.

The river is very variable. Historical sources have recorded 1,593 floods of Huang He and 12 changes in its channel. Such behavior of the river is caused by the deposits of loess, which the river carries in its streams.

The banks of the Huang He became the territory of the formation of the Chinese ethnos – the most ancient people on Earth.

Ob (with Irtysh).

The Ob with the Irtysh is the biggest river in Russia

The Ob by different peoples inhabiting Western Siberia had different names. For example, the Nenets call it Salya-Yam, which means “Cape River. The Khanty and Mansi called it at one time As, “Big River. In Altai it is called Umardy, “The Northern River. But the Selkuts called it the Kwai, which meant “Large River. All nationalities are essentially right, the Ob is the largest river in Russia.

The Ob is 3,650 kilometers long, and if you count its tributary, the Irtysh, it’s 5,410 kilometers long. When Russian settlers began to settle on the banks of Ob (long before Ermak), they derived its name from a word in Komi, which meant “snow”. The territory of the Ob has long been a place of fur trade, exchange and trade in this popular product in the world.

The Ob replenishes its water supply mainly due to melting snow. The river is under ice for most of the year, depending on the severity of the winter, this ranges from 180 to 222 days. The Ob also has the largest basin area in Russia – 2 million 990 thousand km².

The main tributary of the Ob is the Irtysh River, which begins on the border between China and Mongolia. Its length from the source to the confluence with the Ob is 4,248 km, which, as we see, is much longer than the Ob itself.

Burkina Faso is a state in West Africa Burkina Faso

The peculiarity of the Ob is that it is navigable throughout its length. There are many bridges on the river, which greatly facilitates traffic in this Russian region. You can learn about the highest bridges of the planet in our article.


The Yangtze is the largest river in China.

Another historical and legendary river in China. On the continent of Eurasia, the Yangtze is the fullest and longest river. From its source to the East China Sea, the river covers 6,300 km. Since ancient times, the Chinese have called it Changjiang – “The Long River”.

The source of the Yangtze climbed high in the mountains and is located at an altitude of 5,600 meters above sea level. Throughout its history, the Yangtze has been of great importance in China’s development, both economically and socially. The river harmoniously divides China into Northern and Southern, flowing almost in the middle of this state.

From historical facts we will notice that the first settlers on the bank of Yangtze appeared in the Three Gorges area 27 thousand years ago. The mild climate of the Yangtze Basin contributed to the birth and development of agriculture in this region. And today on the banks of the Yangtze River are concentrated enterprises, which give 20% of China’s GDP.

You can learn more about China’s largest cities in our article by clicking here.

Ganges is the largest river in Eurasia.

The river, which flows through India, originates in the western Himalayas, and is fed by the melting snows and glaciers of the mountain peaks.

The length of the Ganges of 2,700 km does not qualify it for inclusion in the list of the largest rivers in the world. But Ganges has its own peculiarity, which makes this river a record-breaker.

The Ganges has the largest delta in the world. This eastern river’s delta is made up of 240 small rivers resulting from the confluence of the Ganges and Brahmaputra. All these rivers cover an area of 105,640 km² and the delta is triangular in shape.

The Ganges is widely represented in Indian mythology and epic. According to Hindus, this heavenly river descended in ancient times to Earth and became the Ganges. Pilgrimages are made to it, the ashes of the cremated dead are sprayed over its waters, and various rites of purification and ablutions are performed. The Ganges is mentioned in the earliest Hindu literature, particularly in the Vedas and the Ramayana.

Today, the waters of the Ganges serve the development of the Indian economy; factories have been built on its shores, and a major hydroelectric dam is in operation.


Congo River

The river, which runs along the border of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is the deepest river in the world. The deepest point of the bottom, according to studies, is at a depth of 230 meters.

Another feature of the Congo is that it is the only river in the world that twice crosses the equator. It is inferior in length to Africa’s longest river, the Nile. The length of the Congo is 4,700 km.

Europeans learned about this unique river from the records of the Portuguese navigator Diego Cahn, who with his sailors first explored the Congo in 1,480.

One of the largest river fish, the Tiger Fish, which reaches a weight of 70 kilograms, is also found in the waters of the Congo.

The river is used as a transportation artery and for power generation and three major hydroelectric plants have been built there.


Mississippi, the largest river in North America

In the Ojibwe Indian language, the name Mississippi translates to “Big River. Interestingly, all over the planet thousands of miles apart, peoples have called rivers the same name. Out of respect, and hardly because of size, since they only saw part of the river, they were “big” to them.

The Mississippi is one of the great rivers of North America’s greatest water system. It is 3,734 km long, and together with the Missouri 6,420 km. The river, which flows through 10 American states, covers 31 states and part of Canada with a total area of 2,981,000 km².

Like Asian rivers, the Mississippi has often changed its course, both slightly for the topography of its banks and dramatically. The last major change occurred the century before last, in 1,876.

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The Mississippi Valley was formed during the retreat of the last glacier. The water of many rivers, including the Mississippi, began to make its way to the Hudson Strait and the Atlantic Ocean.

The river was discovered for Europeans in the 16th century by the Spaniards, who were the first to reach its shores.

Life on the Mississippi and steamship on the river brightly and colorfully described in the works of American writer Mark Twain.

The Nile is the longest river in Africa.

The Greeks called it “Nilus,” which means “Valley.” The Sumerians took the name of the river from the word “Lil” – “water”. It is noteworthy that both in ancient times and now the Nile is called differently in different parts of the course of this largest and greatest river on the African continent and in the world.

The length of the Nile from its source to its confluence with the Mediterranean is 6,671 km. But not only the length, but also the delta of the Nile is grandiose in size. The delta of this African river is 24 thousand km².

The river is turbulent by nature, only in its lower reaches it is characterized as calm. On the banks of the Nile stretched their neighborhoods the largest cities in Egypt. The Aswan Dam and the hydroelectric plant built on it provide light not only to the Egyptian state, but also to neighboring countries.

From the appearance of the first farmers on the banks of the Nile to the present day, the river has been of great importance in people’s lives. Ninety-seven percent of Egypt’s inhabitants live within a 15-kilometer stretch of the Nile. Ancient Egypt compiled a calendar based on the river’s floods, which served the people for 4 thousand years. Nile floods provided a high yield of crops. The inhabitants of ancient Egypt called it “Iteru” – the source of life.


The Amazon is the largest river in the world

Here we get to the most mysterious and mysterious river on Earth. Amazon is also the largest river in the world.

The length of the Amazon, if we take the calculation from the source of the river Marañón, is equal to 6,992 km. Many scientists measure from other tributaries, Apachet and Ucayali, in which case the length of the Amazon exceeds 7 000 km.

In the mid-16th century, the Amazon was first discovered by Europeans. There are reports that the first detachments that reached the shores of the Amazon encountered Amazon tribes consisting exclusively of women.

In terms of diversity of flora and fauna, the Amazon can also claim a leading position in the world. It is home to unique plant species not found anywhere else on earth. The same applies to animals, reptiles and fish.

Sunset on the Amazon

Surprisingly, but only recently was discovered and the longest underground river in the world. And what is interesting, starting in the foothills of the Andes, it surprisingly flows under the Amazon basin. The length of this underground “sister” is more than 4 000 km.

This region of the Earth attracts travelers and explorers. And TheBiggest editorial board is no exception. This is where the impenetrable wilderness remains.

Scientists are constantly debating which river is longer than the Nile or the Amazon? You can find conflicting information in different sources. Always remember, when faced with this question, to clarify the way you measure it. With or without tributaries, the length of the river was measured.

Today, the main problem of the Amazon basin is the deforestation of unique forests. And they are (figuratively speaking) the “lungs” of our planet. In 2011, the Amazon was recognized as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.


List of the largest rivers on Earth

Man cannot live without rivers, whether they are large, like the Nile and the Amazon, or very small. Both the former and the latter are equally important for planet Earth.

Rivers in ancient times helped Mankind to survive by providing it with water and fish. Now rivers are the main source of fresh water that humans use for drinking and food production. Hydropower plants on rivers provide heat and light to our homes. Rivers have become an integral part of human life. Their power and majesty help people survive and improve their living conditions.

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