The River Niger is the third longest river in Africa and the longest river in Nigeria.

5 longest rivers in Africa

As the world’s second largest continent, Africa is home to some of the longest rivers in the world. Many countries in Africa are naturally rich by a depth of forests with the variety of Animals including endangered. The Rivers usually flow heavily in the rainy season and create many streams which merge to main rivers where that makes Rivers size larger and could be longer. 

The longest river in Africa is the Nile, which flows from the north for 6,853 km through 11 African countries (Egypt, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, and South Sudan). The Nile has been considered the longest in the world for years now, but numerous Peruvian and Brazilian studies have concluded that Amazon River may be in fact longer after examining the Amazon River more closely in a way that includes the Para estuary and its longest connecting canal.

1. Nile River

The Nile River, or the Nile-Kagera, is Africa’s longest river at 6,853 km in total. Kagera is an East African river which forms an upper part of the river Nile’s headwaters.

It is also responsible for carrying water from the Nile’s furthest source. The section known as Kagera starts in Burundi and it flows out of Lake Rweru through the Burundi-Rwanda and the Tanzania-Rwanda borders to convergence with river Ruvubu. From the confluence, it flows over the Rusumo falls, through the Akagera National Park before turning east and flowing into Lake Victoria. Akagera River is fed by Ruvubu from Burundi and Nyabarongo from Rwanda.

Even though the Nile’s basin runs through eleven different countries, the river is coarse most prominently associated with Egypt. Civilisation grew along the banks of river; indeed. The historian Herodotus in Greece stated poetically that “Egypt was the gift of the Nile”.

Length: 6, 853 km

Countries: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Egypt, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan

2. Congo/Zaire River

The second longest river in Africa is the Congo River, also sometimes referred to as the Zaire River. It ranks the deepest river on the planet, as well as the second largest measured according to discharge (the Amazon beats it).

Merge into the Atlantic Ocean and flow through many countries and different landscapes meet this river including desert and rain forest. The Congo River length is 4,700 km with a discharge of 41,800 cubic meters per second.

The name of the Congo River is derived from that of the Kingdom of Kongo, which was once located along its southern banks. “Zaire” on the other Hans stems from Portuguese adaption of the Kikongo word “Nzere” which in turn means “river”. Sometimes the Congo poetically referred to as “the river that swallows all rivers,” but this is a mistranslation of the phrase “nzadi o nzere”, which just means “river swallowing rivers”.

The word “Zaire” was first applied to the river, but also later became the name of the state of Zaire.

The Congo is particularly renowned for its rich diversity of aquatic species, consisting of at least 700 types of fish, and probably additional species with have yet to be discovered. The runner-up for fish species diversity is the Niger River, which is pretty far behind with just 210 recorded fish species.  

Length: 4,700 km

Countries: Countries: The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Angola, Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Cameroon, Zambia, Burundi, Rwanda

3. Niger River

The third longest river in Africa with main source water from Guinea Highlands in Southern Guinea, and merges into the Atlantic Ocean, it has the total discharge of 9,570 cubic meters per second. Its primary tributaries are Sokoto River, Kaduna River, Benue River, Bani River and flow through many cities.

Africa’s third largest river is the Niger River, which is a few hundred kilometres shorter than Congo. As the most important river in Western Africa, it has a drainage basin covering an outstanding 2, 117, 700 square kilometres. If you have a chance to visit the Niger River in person, you will notice its waters are surprisingly clear. It contains only around a tenth the amount of sediment found in the Nile.

There are couple of striking geographical features of the Niger River worth mentioning. The first is the Inner Niger Delta. The gradient of the Niger decreases abruptly in this region. So what you have is an unusual area which takes up around the same amount of space as the entire country of Belgium, and it is dominated by lakes, mashes and streams.

The other interceding feature Is the course of the river, which takes a sudden and mysterious right turn around Timbuktu. From there, it dumps out into the gold. For centuries, geographers had no idea why there was a sharp turn in the river, but now it is believed that it is because the Niger is actually formed out of a couple rivers which merged.

Length: 4,200 km

Countries: Nigeria, Mali, Niger, Algeria, Guinea, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Chad

4. Zambesi River

This river – also spelled “Zambezi” – is forth longest in the continent. It is also the longest river inn Africa to flow east, and the longest to flow into the Indian ocean. Its basin takes up an area o around 1, 390, 000 square kilometres.

The Zambesi River is most famous for its stunning Victoria Falls. These waterfalls are located at the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. It has been designated by CNN as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Victoria Falls isn’t the widest or the tallest waterfalls on the planet, but it is still the largest when the width and hight are both accounted for and combined for an overall measure of size. 

The 2,693 km river originates in Zambia and then flows through numerous nations including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola before emptying into the Indian Ocean. Some of the crucial features of the Zambezi River include Ngoye, Chavuma, and Victoria Falls. The Zambezi has two hydroelectric power sources which power Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, and Zambia.

Length: 2,693 km

Countries: Zambia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana

5. Ubangi–Uele River

Ubangi and Ulele rivers are the longest tributaries of Congo River which flow into the Congo River, the combined Ubangi, and Ulele length is about 2,270 km. The Rivers are important transport artery between Bangui and Brazzaville, its drainage basin 772,800 km2.

The Ubangi River, also spelled Oubangui, is the largest right-bank tributary of the Congo River in the region of Central Africa. It begins at the confluence of the Mbomou and Uele Rivers and flows west, forming the border between Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Length: 2,270 km

Countries: The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo


Conclusion: Africa is a Land Abundant with Majestic Rivers

If you are planning a trip to Africa, make time to visit one or more of these amazing rivers. The rivers of Africa are among the longest and most remarkable in the world. They helped give rise to early civilisations and support incredible biodiversity. They are spectacularly scenic, and add to the continent’s great natural wealth. 

Source: 1, 2, 3, 4.

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