What is the longest river in the world? It is a straightforward question, with a slightly complex answer. For years, many considered the Nile River in Africa to be the longest, but as we will see, that is not quite the case. With the use of more accurate measuring techniques, most geographers now agree that the Amazon River in South America is actually longer.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of the Amazon River is the many countries and cultures that are connected through it. The river starts in the Andes of Peru, and flows through four other countries, including Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador, before ending the trail in Brazil, where it spills into the Atlantic Ocean.
This body of water also runs through the heart of the Amazon Rainforest, the largest tropical rainforest in the world. Within this massive rainforest are various Indigenous peoples, who live off the forest’s plants and wildlife. The Amazon River plays a central role in the cultures and traditions of the people who live near it.
What Is the Longest River in the World?
It has only been since 2007 that the Amazon has been considered the longest river in the world. For years, the river actually came second to the Nile River, which runs from the mountains of Burundi to Egypt, where it spills into the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile runs for 4,258 miles throughout Africa.
Because rivers are constantly seeing changes with waterflow and seasons, it can be extremely difficult to get accurate surveys on length and distance. It wasn’t until this century that researchers had enough technology with GPS to make more accurate estimates on actual river lengths. Upon further research with these innovative technologies, scientists discovered that in actual area coverage, the Amazon is slightly longer at 4,345 miles to the Nile’s 4,258.
The issue that caused this miscalculation over the years was the way the rivers were being measured. The Nile runs in a relatively straight line from start to the outlet, making it much easier to measure. The Amazon, on the other hand, only covers about 1,100 miles in a straight line distance, however, it spans out in a greater overall area coverage.
The Amazon River Is Huge
While there has been debate over the years regarding the longest river in the world, there has never been any doubt that the Amazon River is huge. In fact, when considering the volume rate of water flow, the Amazon river is easily the largest.
The Amazon has an average discharge of 209,000 cubic meters per second. To give you some perspective, the next on the list, the Congo River in Africa, has an average discharge of 41,200 m³/s.
And here’s one other Amazon River fact: Despite being over 4,000 miles long, no bridges cross the it. In 2010, the first bridge was built over one of the Amazon tributaries (Rio Negro) in the city of Manaus. This was the first bridge ever built in the entire Amazon River system.
The Amazon river, as well as its partnered rainforest, truly are some incredible wonders of this vast earth. For centuries, it has provided life to people, plants, and animals of all kinds, and it has connected South American cultures through trade and common alliance. Its flowing waters truly have a million stories to tell.
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