In this article, we will examine the longest rivers in the world; rivers that impact the lives of millions of people, carry an untold number of goods along their churning ways, and on occasion, transcend international frontiers. As most of you already know, our planet is covered by water. This element makes up for more than 70% of the globe’s surface. However, most of it is salt-water, and therefore, not suitable for human consumption or use for irrigation. This is why rivers are vital to human survival. They are the most-used sources of freshwater, both for irrigation, and human and animal consumption. In addition to freshwater, rivers can provide food and energy, and can be used for transportation and, sadly, also waste disposal (although we should definitely be careful with these last two).
For further information on other large water-masses, check out our list of The 15 Largest Bodies of Water in the World. As stated above, in this list we will take a look at the longest rivers in the world. However, measuring a river’s exact length is not an easy task, as many factors need to be taken into account –where a river starts and ends is not always that clear. As a result, the figures displayed below are (widely accepted) approximations, subject to some degree of discussion; yet, plenty of consensus exists around the lengths utilized to elaborate this list.
Despite the general knowledge that says that the Nile is the longest river in the world, scientists are still debating this. Recent evidence suggests that the Amazon River could be longer, as its “true” source is still being disputed. Which one do we crown as the longest? Which other raging rivers make the top five? Keep reading to find out which are the longest rivers in the world.
Length: 3,434 – 3,448 miles
Outflow: Kara Sea
The Yenisei River flows northerly from Mongolia (about 3% of its total course) to the Kara Sea, across the Russian Siberia. The Yenisei basin includes the great Lake Baikal, one of the The 10 Largest Lakes in the World.
#4: Mississippi – Missouri River System
Length: 3,709 – 3,902 miles
Outflow: Gulf of Mexico
The Mississippi is the main river in the largest river system in North America, formed also by the Missouri and Jefferson Rivers. Although it flows entirely in the United States, either bordering or passing through the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, its drainage basin reaches into Canada.
#3: Yangtze (Chang Jiang)
Length: 3,917 – 3.988 miles (disputed)
Outflow: East China Sea
The longest river in Asia flows eastward across China, from the glaciers on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in Qinghai to Shanghai, where it exhausts into the East China Sea. The river drains 1/5 of the land area of the People’s Republic of China, and its basin is home to 1/3 of the country’s population. The river also feeds the largest hydro-electric power station in the world, the Three Gorges Dam.
To find out who goes the distance to take the gold in the battle for longest rivers in the world supremacy between the Nile and the Amazon rivers continue on to the next page.