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The Molopo River (Afrikaans: Moloporivier) is one of the main rivers in Southern Africa. It has a length of approximately 960 kilometres and a catchment area of 367,201 km2 with Botswana, Namibia and South Africa sharing roughly about a third of the basin each.[1]

Molopo River
The National Archives UK - CO 1069-215-10.jpg
Molopo River is located in South Africa
Molopo River
Location of the Molopo River's mouth
CountryBotswana and South Africa
ProvinceNorth West Province and Northern Cape
Physical characteristics
 ⁃ locationBetween Groot Marico and Lichtenburg, North West Province, South Africa
MouthOrange River
 ⁃ location
Near Augrabies Falls National Park, Northern Cape Province
 ⁃ coordinates
28°31′02″S 20°12′46″E / 28.51722°S 20.21278°E / -28.51722; 20.21278Coordinates: 28°31′02″S 20°12′46″E / 28.51722°S 20.21278°E / -28.51722; 20.21278
 ⁃ elevation
480 m (1,570 ft)
Length970 km (600 mi)
Basin size367,201 km2 (141,777 sq mi)


Its source is between Groot Marico and Lichtenburg and the river generally flows first to the west, and then to the southwest from its source. In its middle course the Molopo River forms a significant section of the border between Botswana and South Africa.

River flow is intermittent and when it flows, its water flows very slowly owing to a gradient of only 0.76 m/km. Floods are rare because the vast sandveld areas of the Kalahari Desert on the Namibian side of its basin absorb all water from the seasonal rains. In case of exceptionally heavy and continuous precipitation the flow discharges into the Orange River, which it meets downstream of Augrabies Falls National Park at 28°31′02″S 20°12′46″E / 28.51722°S 20.21278°E / -28.51722; 20.21278.[2] It is believed that this last occurred more than 100 years ago.


The main tributary of the Molopo is the Nossob, whose confluence is some 50 km south of Twee Rivieren, at 890m above sea level. Other tributaries are:[3]


The upper Molopo is part of the Crocodile (West) and Marico Water Management Area and the lower is included in the Lower Vaal Water Management Area. Major dams in the river are the Setumo Dam and the Disaneng Dam, both located near the city of Mafikeng, South Africa, which lies on the banks of the river.

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