List of rivers by length
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This is a list of the longest rivers on Earth. It includes river systems over 1,000 kilometres (620 mi).
Definition of length
There are many factors, such as the source, the identification or the definition of the mouth, and the scale of measurement of the river length between source and mouth, that determine the precise meaning of "river length". As a result, the length measurements of many rivers are only approximations (see also coastline paradox). In particular, there exists disagreement as to whether the Nile or the Amazon is the world's longest river. The Nile has traditionally been considered longer, but in recent years two unpublished studies have suggested that the Amazon is longer by measuring the river plus the adjacent Pará estuary and the longest connecting tidal canal. A peer-reviewed article published in the International Journal of Digital Earth comes to the conclusion that the Nile is longer.
Even when detailed maps are available, the length measurement is not always clear. A river may have multiple channels, or anabranches. The length may depend on whether the center or the edge of the river is measured. It may not be clear how to measure the length through a lake. Seasonal and annual changes may alter both rivers and lakes. Other factors that can change the length of a river include cycles of erosion and flooding, dams, levees, and channelization. In addition, the length of meanders can change significantly over time due to natural or artificial cutoffs, when a new channel cuts across a narrow strip of land, bypassing a large river bend. For example, due to 18 cutoffs created between 1766 and 1885, the length of the Mississippi River from Cairo, Illinois, to New Orleans, Louisiana, was reduced by 351 kilometres (218 miles).
These points make it difficult, if not impossible, to get an accurate measurement of the length of a river. The varying accuracy and precision also makes it difficult to make length comparisons between different rivers without a degree of uncertainty.
List of river systems longer than 1000 km
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One should take the aforementioned discussion into account when using the data in the following table. For most rivers, different sources provide conflicting information on the length of a river system. The information in different sources is between parentheses.
|Continent color key|
|Africa||Asia||Australia||Europe||North America||South America|
|Rank||River||Length (km)||Length (miles)||Drainage area
|Outflow||Countries in the drainage basin|
|1.||Nile–White Nile–Kagera–Nyabarongo–Mwogo–Rukarara[n 1]||6,650
|3,254,555||2,800||Mediterranean||Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Egypt, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan|
|7,050,000||209,000||Atlantic Ocean||Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana|
|1,800,000||30,166||East China Sea||China|
|4.||Mississippi–Missouri–Jefferson–Beaverhead–Red Rock–Hell Roaring||6,275
||2,980,000||16,792||Gulf of Mexico||United States (98.5%), Canada (1.5%)|
||2,580,000||18,050||Kara Sea||Russia (97%), Mongolia (2.9%)|
|7.||Ob–Irtysh||5,410||3,364||2,990,000||12,475||Gulf of Ob||Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia|
|8.||Río de la Plata–Paraná–Rio Grande||4,880
||2,582,672||22,000||Río de la Plata||Brazil (46.7%), Argentina (27.7%), Paraguay (13.5%), Bolivia (8.3%), Uruguay (3.8%)|
||3,680,000||41,800||Atlantic Ocean||Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Angola, Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Cameroon, Zambia, Burundi, Rwanda|
|4,444||2,763||1,855,000||11,400||Sea of Okhotsk||Russia, China, Mongolia|
|4,350||2,705||810,000||16,000||South China Sea||China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam|
||2,090,000||5,589||Gulf of Guinea||Nigeria (26.6%), Mali (25.6%), Niger (23.6%), Algeria (7.6%), Guinea (4.5%), Cameroon (4.2%), Burkina Faso (3.9%), Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Chad|
|15.||Brahmaputra–Yarlung Tsangpo||3,969||2,466||712,035||19,800||Ganges||India (58.0%), China (19.7%), Nepal (9.0%), Bangladesh (6.6%), Disputed India/China (4.2%), Bhutan (2.4%)|
|17.||Tocantins–Araguaia||3,650||2,270||950,000||13,598||Atlantic Ocean, Amazon||Brazil|
|19.||Indus–Sênggê Zangbo||3,610||2,250||960,000||7,160||Arabian Sea||Pakistan (93%), India and China|
||884,000||856||Persian Gulf||Iraq (60.5%), Turkey (24.8%), Syria (14.7%)|
|21.||Madeira–Mamoré–Grande–Caine–Rocha||3,380||2,100||1,485,200||31,200||Amazon||Brazil, Bolivia, Peru|
|23.||Yukon||3,185||1,980||850,000||6,210||Bering Sea||United States (59.8%), Canada (40.2%)|
|25.||Syr Darya–Naryn||3,078||1,913||219,000||703||Aral Sea||Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan|
|3,060||1,901||324,000||3,153||Andaman Sea||China (52.4%), Myanmar (43.9%), Thailand (3.7%)|
|27.||Saint Lawrence–Niagara–Detroit–Saint Clair–Saint Marys–Saint Louis–North (Great Lakes)||3,058||1,900||1,030,000||10,100||Gulf of Saint Lawrence||Canada (52.1%), United States (47.9%)|
|28.||Rio Grande||3,057||1,900||570,000||82||Gulf of Mexico||United States (52.1%), Mexico (47.9%)|
|30.||Danube–Breg (Donau, Dunăre, Duna, Dunav, Dunaj)||2,888*||1,795*||817,000||7,130||Black Sea||Romania (28.9%), Hungary (11.7%), Austria (10.3%), Serbia (10.3%), Germany (7.5%), Slovakia (5.8%), Bulgaria (5.2%), Croatia (4.5%), Ukraine (3.8%)|
|31.||Irrawaddy River–N'Mai River–Dulong River–Kelaoluo–Gada Qu||2,809*||1,745.8*||404,200*||13,000*||Andaman Sea||China, Myanmar|
|2,740*||1,703*||1,330,000||4,880||Mozambique Channel||Zambia (41.6%), Angola (18.4%), Zimbabwe (15.6%), Mozambique (11.8%), Malawi (8.0%), Tanzania (2.0%), Namibia, Botswana|
|35.||Ganges–Hooghly–Padma (Ganga)||2,704||1,690||1,024,000||12,037||Bay of Bengal||India, Bangladesh, Nepal|
|36.||Amu Darya–Panj||2,620||1,628||534,739||1,400||Aral Sea||Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan|
|37.||Japurá (Rio Yapurá)||2,615*||1,625*||242,259||6,000||Amazon||Brazil, Colombia|
|38.||Nelson–Saskatchewan||2,570||1,597||1,093,000||2,575||Hudson Bay||Canada, United States|
|39.||Paraguay (Rio Paraguay)||2,549||1,584||900,000||4,300||Paraná||Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina|
|40.||Kolyma||2,513||1,562||644,000||3,800||East Siberian Sea||Russia|
|41.||Pilcomayo||2,500||1,553||270,000||Paraguay||Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia|
|45.||Ural||2,428||1,509||237,000||475||Caspian Sea||Russia, Kazakhstan|
|47.||Colorado (western U.S.)||2,333||1,450||390,000||1,200||Gulf of California||United States, Mexico|
|49.||Dnieper||2,287||1,421||516,300||1,670||Black Sea||Russia, Belarus, Ukraine|
|51.||Ubangi–Uele||2,270||1,410||772,800||4,000||Congo||Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo|
|52.||Negro||2,250||1,398||720,114||26,700||Amazon||Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia|
|53.||Columbia||2,250 (1,953)||1,398 (1,214)||415,211||7,500||Pacific Ocean||United States, Canada|
|54.||Pearl–Zhu Jiang||2,200||1,376||437,000||13,600||South China Sea||China (98.5%), Vietnam (1.5%)|
|55.||Red (USA)||2,188||1,360||78,592||875||Mississippi||United States|
|2,170||1,348||411,000||13,000||Andaman Sea||Myanmar, China|
|57.||Kasai||2,153||1,338||880,200||10,000||Congo||Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|59.||Orinoco||2,101||1,306||1,380,000||33,000||Atlantic Ocean||Venezuela, Colombia, Guyana|
|62.||Orange||2,092||1,300||Atlantic Ocean||South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho|
|65.||Tigris||1,950||1,212||Shatt al-Arab||Turkey, Iraq, Syria|
|68.||Don||1,870||1,162||425,600||935||Sea of Azov||Russia, Ukraine|
|72.||Limpopo||1,800||1,118||413,000||Indian Ocean||Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana|
|74.||Guaporé (Itenez)||1,749||1,087||Mamoré||Brazil, Bolivia|
|75.||Indigirka||1,726||1,072||360,400||1,810||East Siberian Sea||Russia|
|77.||Senegal||1,641||1,020||419,659||Atlantic Ocean||Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Mauritania|
|78.||Uruguay||1,610||1,000||370,000||Atlantic Ocean||Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil|
|79.||Blue Nile||1,600||994||326,400||Nile||Ethiopia, Sudan|
|79.||Okavango||1,600||994||Okavango Delta||Namibia, Angola, Botswana|
|79.||Volta||1,600||994||Gulf of Guinea||Ghana, Burkina Faso, Togo, Côte d'Ivoire, Benin|
|87.||Alazeya||1,590||988||64,700||East Siberian Sea||Russia|
|88.||Jubba–Shebelle||1,580*||982*||Indian Ocean||Ethiopia, Somalia|
|89.||Içá (Putumayo)||1,575||979||Amazon||Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador|
|92.||Kura/Mt'k'vari||1,515||941||188,400||575||Caspian Sea||Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan|
|96.||Pecos||1,490||926||Rio Grande||United States|
|97.||Murrumbidgee River||1,485 ||923||84,917||120||Murray River||Australia|
|98.||Upper Yenisei–Little Yenisei (Kaa-Hem)||1,480||920||Yenisei||Russia, Mongolia|
|99.||Godavari||1,465||910||312,812||3,061||Bay of Bengal||India|
|100.||Colorado (Texas)||1,438||894||Gulf of Mexico||United States|
|101.||Río Grande (Guapay)||1,438||894||102,600||264||Ichilo||Bolivia|
|105.||Dniester||1,411 (1,352)||877 (840)||72,100||310||Black Sea||Ukraine, Moldova|
|106.||Ili (Yili)||1,400||870||Lake Balkhash||China, Kazakhstan|
|109.||Sutlej||1,372||852||Chenab||China, India, Pakistan|
|112.||Fraser||1,368||850||220,000||3,475||Pacific Ocean||Canada, United States|
|114.||Brazos||1,352||840||Gulf of Mexico||United States|
|116.||Lachlan River||1,338 ||831||84,700||49||Murrumbidgee River||Australia|
|120.||Northern Dvina–Sukhona||1,302||809||357,052||3,332||White Sea||Russia|
|121.||Krishna||1,300||808||Bay of Bengal||India|
|124.||Lomami||1,280||795||Congo||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|126.||Lerma–Rio Grande de Santiago||1,270||789||119,543||Pacific Ocean||Mexico|
|127.||Elbe–Vltava||1,252||778||148,268||711||North Sea||Germany, Czech Republic|
|130.||Upper Mississippi||1,236||768||Mississippi||United States|
|131.||Rhine||1,233||768||185,000 ||2,330||North Sea||Germany (57.3%), Switzerland (15.1%), Netherlands (12.3%), France (12.2%), Luxembourg (1.4%), Austria (1.3%), Belgium (0.4%), Liechtenstein (0.1%), Italy (0.03%)|
|135.||Vistula–Bug||1,213||754||194,424||1,080||Baltic Sea||Poland, Belarus, Ukraine|
|137.||Ogooué (or Ogowe)||1,200||746||223,856||4,706||Atlantic Ocean||Gabon, Republic of the Congo|
|140.||Kızıl River||1,182||734||115,000||400||Black Sea||Turkey|
|141.||Markha River||1,181||734||99,000||405||Vilyuy River||Russia|
|142.||Green||1,175||730||Colorado (western U.S.)||United States|
|143.||Milk||1,173||729||United States, Canada|
|144.||Mun - Chi||1,162||722||Mekong River||Thailand|
|146.||Sankuru||1,150||715||Kasai||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|148.||Red (Asia)||1,149||714||143,700||2,640||Gulf of Tonkin||China, Vietnam|
|149.||James (Dakotas)||1,143||710||Missouri||United States|
|149.||Kapuas||1,143||710||South China Sea||Indonesia|
|151.||Desna||1,130||702||88,900||360||Dnieper||Russia, Belarus, Ukraine|
|151.||Madre de Dios||1,130||702||125,000||4,915||Beni||Peru, Bolivia|
|156.||Sepik||1,126||700||77,700||Pacific Ocean||Papua New Guinea, Indonesia|
|158.||Anadyr||1,120||696||Gulf of Anadyr||Russia|
|158.||Paraíba do Sul||1,120||696||Atlantic Ocean||Brazil|
|164.||Kwango||1,100||684||263,500||2,700||Kasai||Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|167.||Gambia||1,094||680||Atlantic Ocean||The Gambia, Senegal, Guinea|
|170.||Ghaghara||1,080||671||127,950||2,990||Ganges||India, Nepal, China|
|173.||Aras||1,072||665||102,000||285||Kura||Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran|
|174.||Chu River||1,067||663||62,500||none||Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan|
|175.||Seversky Donets||1,078 (1,053)||670 (654)||98,900||159||Don||Russia, Ukraine|
|176.||Fly||1,050||652||Gulf of Papua||Papua New Guinea, Indonesia|
|176.||Kuskokwim||1,050||652||Bering Sea||United States|
|181.||Oder–Warta||1,045||649||118,861||550||Baltic Sea||Poland, Germany, Czech Republic|
|182.||Aruwimi||1,030||640||Congo||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|183.||Daugava||1,020||634||87,900||678||Gulf of Riga||Latvia, Belarus, Russia|
|184.||Gila||1,015||631||Colorado (western U.S.)||United States|
|1,006||625||80,100||444||Atlantic Ocean||Spain, Portugal|
|189.||Flinders River||1,004 ||624||109,000||122||Gulf of Carpentaria||Australia|
- When the length of a river is followed by an asterisk, it is an average of multiple information sources. If the difference in lengths between given information sources is significant, all lengths are listed. But if the lengths from secondary information sources are similar, they are averaged and that figure has an asterisk.
- Scientists debate whether the Amazon or the Nile is the longest river in the world. Traditionally, the Nile is considered longer, but recent information suggests that the Amazon may be longer. Differences in the recorded length of the Amazon mainly depend on whether the course south of the Ilha de Marajó at the Amazon's mouth is to be treated as part of the Amazon, or as part of the separate Tocantins River. New evidence, (dated 16 June 2007) obtained from a high-altitude scientific venture in the Andes, claims that "the Amazon is longer than the Nile by 100 km, with its longest headwater being the Carhuasanta stream originating in the south of Peru on the Nevado Mismi mountain's northern slopes and flowing into the Río Apurímac". However, the origin of the river at Nevado Mismi had already been known more than one decade earlier (see Jacek Palkiewicz), and satellite based measuring from this origin to the Amazon mouth has resulted in not more than 6,400 km.
- Generally, the most commonly used/anglicised name of the river is used. The name in a native language or alternate spelling may be shown.
River systems that may have existed in the past
The Congo basin is completely surrounded by high land, except for its long narrow exit valley past Kinshasa, including waterfalls around Manyanga. That gives the impression that most of the Congo basin was formerly on a much higher land level and that the Congo River was rejuvenated by much of its lower course being removed, likeliest when Africa split from South America when Gondwanaland broke up due to continental drift, and before that, the Congo would likely have flowed into the Amazon, producing a river around 6000 miles or 10,000 km long.
West Siberian Glacial Lake drainage
This river would have been about 10,000 km (6,200 mi) long, in the last Ice Age. Its longest headwater was the Selenga river of Mongolia: it drained through ice-dammed lakes and the Aral Sea and the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea.
During the last glacial maximum, much of what is now the southern part of the North Sea was land, known to archaeologists as Doggerland. At this time, the Thames, the Meuse, the Scheldt, and the Rhine probably joined before flowing into the sea, in a system known by palaeogeographers as the Loubourg or Lobourg River System. There is some debate as to whether this river would have flowed southwest into what is now the English Channel, or flowed north, emerging into the North Sea close to modern Yorkshire. If the latter hypothesis is true, the Rhine would have attained a length of close to 1,650 kilometres (1,030 mi). The former hypothesis would have produced a shorter river, some 1,400 kilometres (870 mi) in length. Current scientific research favours the former opinion, with the Thames and Rhine meeting in a large lake, the outflow of which was close to the present-day Straits of Dover.
Notes and references
- The Nile is usually said to be the longest river in the world, with a length of about 6,650 km, and the Amazon the second longest, with a length of at least 6,400 km. In recent decades debate has intensified over the true source and the placement of the mouth, and therefore the length, of the Amazon River. Brazilian and Peruvian Studies in 2007 and 2008 added the waterway from the Amazon's southern outlet through tidal canals and the Pará estuary of the Tocantins and then concluded that the Amazon has a length of 6,992 km and was longer than the Nile, whose length was calculated as 6,853 km. The dispute is: "Is the channel south of Isla de Marajó to be treated as part of the Amazon, or as part of the Rio Tocantins?" A peer-reviewed article, published in 2009, states a length of 7,088 km for the Nile and 6,575 km for the Amazon, measured by using a combination of satellite image analysis and field investigations to the source regions. Therefore, as of 2018 the length of both rivers remains open to interpretation and continued debate. Note that the disputed values have been put in parentheses.
- "Where Does the Amazon River Begin?". National Geographic News. 2014-02-15. Retrieved 2018-12-25.
- for more on this, see coastline paradox
- "Nile River". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
- "Amazon River". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
- "Amazon river 'longer than Nile'". BBC News. 16 June 2007. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
- "Studies from INPE indicate that the Amazon River is 140km longer than the Nile". Brazilian National Institute for Space Research. Archived from the original on 11 April 2011. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
- "How Long Is the Amazon River?". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-12-24.
- Liu, Shaochuang; Lu, P; Liu, D; Jin, P; Wang, W (2009-03-01). "Pinpointing the sources and measuring the lengths of the principal rivers of the world". Int. J. Digital Earth. 2: 80–87. doi:10.1080/17538940902746082.
- J.C. Kammerer (1 September 2005). "Largest Rivers in the United States". US Geological Survey. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
- Roach, John. "Amazon Longer Than Nile River, Scientists Say". National Geographic. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- "Río de la Plata". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
- "Scientists pinpoint sources of four major international rivers". Xinhua News Agency. 22 August 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- "Brahmaputra River". Encyclopædia Britannica.
- "Longest Rivers". Geoscience Australia. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- Syvitski, James P. M., Vörösmarty, Charles J., Kettner, Albert J., Green, Pamela. "Impact of Humans on the Flux of Terrestrial Sediment to the Global Coastal Ocean". Archived from the original on 2006-09-19. Retrieved 2006-02-27.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Parua, Pranab Kumar (3 January 2010). The Ganga: water use in the Indian subcontinent. Springer. p. 272. ISBN 978-90-481-3102-0. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
- Bossche, J.P. vanden; G. M. Bernacsek (1990). Source Book for the Inland Fishery Resources of Africa, Volume 1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. p. 338. ISBN 978-92-5-102983-1.
- "Longest Rivers". Murray Darling Basin Authority. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
- Longest Rivers at Geoscience Australia
- "The Chilliwack River Valley: An Outdoor Enthusiast's Paradise". Camping & RVing BC. Camping and RVing British Columbia Coalition. 10 October 2017. Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
- Bossche, J.P. vanden; G. M. Bernacsek (1990). Source Book for the Inland Fishery Resources of Africa, Volume 1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. p. 333. ISBN 978-92-5-102983-1.
- If the Meuse is considered a tributary, the Rhine basin is 218,300 km2.
- Rogers, Aaron W. "White River - Encyclopedia of Arkansas". www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
- Daily Telegraph, Monday 18 June 2007, page 18
- "Amazon river flowed into the Pacific millions of years ago". mongabay.com. Retrieved 2017-12-11.
- Vaikmäe, R., Edmunds, W. M., and Manzano, M., (2001) "Weichselian palaeoclimate and palaeoenvironment in Europe: Background for palaeogroundwater formation", in "Palaeowaters in Coastal Europe: Evolution of Groundwater Since the Late Pleistocene" (W. M. Edmunds and C. J. Milne (eds)). London:The Geological Society. p. 177
- Bridgland, D. R., and D'Olier, B. (1995) "The Pleistocene evolution of the Thames and Rhine drainage systems in the southern North Sea Basin (abstract)", Geological Society, London, Special Publications, v. 96, p. 27–45, in Lyell Collection. Retrieved 12 November 2015.