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This is a list of the longest rivers on Earth. It includes river systems over 1,000 kilometers.

Definition of length

The length of a river is hard to calculate. It depends on the identification of the source, the identification of the mouth, and the precise measurement of the river length between source and mouth. As a result, the length measurements of many rivers are only approximations. In particular, there has long been disagreement as to whether the Amazon or the Nile is the world's longest river.

The source of a river may be hard to determine because a river typically has many tributaries. Among the many sources, the one that is farthest away from the mouth is considered as the source of the river, thus giving a maximal river length. In practice, the tributary with the farthest source is not always the one given the name of the river. For example, the farthest source of the Mississippi River system is the source of the Jefferson River, a tributary of the Missouri Rivermarker which in turn is a tributary of the Mississippi. However, a different (and shorter) tributary is identified as the Mississippi. When the river is measured from mouth to farthest source, it is called the Mississippi-Missouri-Jefferson. Also, it is hard to state exactly where a river begins as very often rivers are formed by seasonal streams, swamps, or changing lakes. In this article, length means the length of the river system, including all tributaries.

The mouth of a river is hard to determine in cases where the river has a large estuary that gradually widens and opens into the ocean; examples are the River Platemarker and the Saint Lawrence Rivermarker. Some rivers like the Okavangomarker or Coloradomarker do not have a mouth; instead they dwindle to very low water volume and eventually evaporate, or sink into an aquifer, or get diverted for agriculture. The exact point where these rivers end will vary seasonally.

The length of a river between source and mouth may be hard to determine because of a lack of precise maps. In these cases, the measured length of a river will depend on the scale of the map on which the measurement is based; in general, due to the fractal quality of a river, the finer the scale, the longer the resulting length measurement. This issue was discovered by Lewis Fry Richardson and also applies when measuring borders between countries and coastlines. According to the generally accepted ideal, length measurements should be based on maps that are of a large enough scale to show the width of the river, and the path measured is the path a small boat would take down the middle of the river.

Even when precise maps are available, the length measurement is not always clear. A river may have multiple arms. It may depend on whether the center or the edge of the river is taken as reference point. It may not be clear how to measure the length through a lake: this may also vary by season. These points make it difficult, if not impossible, to get a precise (or comparable ) measurement of the length of a river or stream.

List of rivers longer than 1000 km

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 Oceania Europe North America South America
River Length (km) Length (miles) Drainage area (km²) Average discharge (m³/s) Outflow Countries in the drainage basin
1.** Nile 6,650 4,135 3,349,000 5,100 Mediterranean Seamarker Ethiopiamarker, Eritreamarker, Sudanmarker, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenyamarker, Rwandamarker, Burundimarker, Egyptmarker, Democratic Republic of the Congomarker
2.** Amazon 6,400

3,980

6,915,000 219,000 Atlantic Oceanmarker Brazilmarker, Perumarker, Boliviamarker, Colombiamarker, Ecuadormarker, Venezuelamarker, Guyanamarker
3. Yangtzemarker
(Chang Jiang)
6,300

3,917

1,800,000 31,900 East China Seamarker P.R.marker Chinamarker
4. MississippiMissourimarker 6,275

3,902

2,980,000 16,200 Gulf of Mexicomarker United Statesmarker (98.5%), Canadamarker (1.5%)
5. YeniseimarkerAngaramarkerSelenga 5,539

3,445

2,580,000 19,600 Kara Seamarker Russiamarker, Mongoliamarker
6. Yellowmarker
(Huang He)
5,464

3,398

745,000 2,110 Bohai Sea
(Balhae)
P.R. China
7. ObIrtyshmarker 5,410 3,364 2,990,000 12,800 Gulf of Obmarker Russia, Kazakhstanmarker, P.R. China, Mongolia
8. CongomarkerChambeshi
(Zaire)
4,700

2,922

3,680,000 41,800 Atlantic Oceanmarker Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republicmarker, Angolamarker, Republic of the Congomarker, Tanzania, Cameroonmarker, Zambiamarker, Burundimarker, Rwandamarker
9. AmurmarkerArgun
(Heilong Jiang)
4,444 2,763 1,855,000 11,400 Sea of Okhotskmarker Russia, P.R. China, Mongolia
10. Lenamarker 4,400

2,736

2,490,000 17,100 Laptev Seamarker Russia
11. Mekong
(Lancang Jiang)
4,350 2,705 810,000 16,000 South China Seamarker Laosmarker, Thailandmarker, P.R. China, Cambodiamarker, Vietnammarker, Myanmarmarker
12. MackenziemarkerPeaceFinlay 4,241

2,637

1,790,000 10,300 Beaufort Seamarker Canada
13. Niger 4,200

2,611

2,090,000 9,570 Gulf of Guineamarker Nigeriamarker (26.6%), Malimarker (25.6%), Nigermarker (23.6%), Algeriamarker (7.6%), Guineamarker (4.5%), Cameroonmarker (4.2%), Burkina Fasomarker (3.9%), Côte d'Ivoiremarker, Beninmarker, Chadmarker
14. Paranámarker
(Río de la Platamarker)
3,998

2,486

3,100,000 25,700 Atlantic Ocean Brazil (46.7%), Argentinamarker (27.7%), Paraguaymarker (13.5%), Bolivia (8.3%), Uruguaymarker (3.8%)
15. Volga 3,645 2,266 1,380,000 8,080 Caspian Seamarker Russia (99.8%), Kazakhstan (minor)
16. Shatt al-ArabmarkerEuphrates 3,596

2,236

884,000 856 Persian Gulfmarker Iraqmarker (60.5%), Turkeymarker (24.8%), Syriamarker (14.7%)
17. Purusmarker 3,379 2,101 63,166 8,400 Amazon Brazil, Peru
18. MurraymarkerDarlingmarker 3,370

2,094

1,061,000 767 Indian Oceanmarker Australia
19. MadeiraMamorémarker 3,239 2,014 850,000 17,000 Amazon Brazil, Bolivia, Peru
20. Yukonmarker 3,700 2,300 850,000 6,210 Bering Seamarker United States (59.8%), Canada (40.2%)
21. Indusmarker
(Sindhu)
3,180 1,976 960,000 7,160 Arabian Seamarker Pakistanmarker (93%), Indiamarker, P. R. China,Afghanistanmarker
22. São Franciscomarker 3,180*
(2,900)
1,976*
(1,802)
610,000 3,300 Atlantic Ocean Brazil
23. Syr DaryamarkerNarynmarker 3,078 1,913 219,000 703 Aral Seamarker Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstanmarker, Uzbekistanmarker, Tajikistanmarker
24. Salweenmarker
(Nu Jiang)
3,060 1,901 324,000 3,153 Andaman Seamarker P.R. China (52.4%), Myanmar (43.9%), Thailand (3.7%)
25. Saint LawrencemarkerNiagaramarkerDetroitSaint ClairmarkerSaint MarysmarkerSaint Louis 3,058 1,900 1,030,000 10,100 Gulf of Saint Lawrencemarker Canada (52.1%), United States (47.9%)
26. Rio Grandemarker 3,057
(2,896)
1,900
(1,799)
570,000 82 Gulf of Mexico United States (52.1%), Mexicomarker (47.9%)
27. Lower Tunguska 2,989 1,857 473,000 3,600 Yenisei Russia
28. Brahmaputramarker 2,948* 1,832* 1,730,000 19,200 Bay of Bengalmarker India (58.0%), P.R. China (19.7%), Nepalmarker (9.0%), Bangladeshmarker (6.6%), Disputed India/P.R. China (4.2%), Bhutanmarker (2.4%)
29. Danube 2,850* 1,771* 817,000 7,130 Black Seamarker Romaniamarker (28.9%), Hungarymarker (11.7%), Austriamarker (10.3%), Serbiamarker (10.3%), Germanymarker (7.5%), Slovakiamarker (5.8%), Bulgariamarker (5.2%), Czech Republicmarker (2.5%),
30. Tocantins 2,699 1,677 1,400,000 13,598 Atlantic Ocean, Amazon Brazil
31. Zambezimarker
(Zambesi)
2,693* 1,673* 1,330,000 4,880 Mozambique Channelmarker Zambiamarker (41.6%), Angolamarker (18.4%), Zimbabwemarker (15.6%), Mozambiquemarker (11.8%), Malawimarker (8.0%), Tanzania (2.0%), Namibiamarker, Botswanamarker
32. Vilyuymarker 2,650 1,647 454,000 1,480 Lenamarker Russia
33. Araguaia 2,627 1,632 358,125 6,172 Tocantins Brazil
34. Amu Daryamarker 2,620 1,628 534,739 1,400 Aral Seamarker Uzbekistanmarker, Turkmenistanmarker, Tajikistanmarker, Afghanistanmarker
35. Japurá
(Rio Yapurá)
2,615* 1,625* 242,259 6,000 Amazon Brazil, Colombia
36. NelsonmarkerSaskatchewan 2,570 1,597 1,093,000 2,575 Hudson Baymarker Canada, United States
37. Paraguay
(Rio Paraguay)
2,549 1,584 900,000 4,300 Paranámarker Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina
38. Kolyma 2,513 1,562 644,000 3,800 East Siberian Seamarker Russia
39. Gangesmarker/Padma
(Ganga)
2,510 1,560 907,000 12,037 Brahmaputramarker, Bay of Bengalmarker India, Bangladesh, Nepal
40. Pilcomayo 2,500 1,553 270,000 Paraguay Paraguaymarker, Argentina, Bolivia
41. Upper Ob 2,490 1,547 Ob Russia
42. Ishim 2,450 1,522 177,000 56 Irtyshmarker Kazakhstan, Russia
43. Juruá 2,410 1,498 200,000 6,000 Amazon Peru, Brazil
44. Ural 2,428 1,509 237,000 475 Caspian Seamarker Russia, Kazakhstan
45. Arkansasmarker 2,348 1,459 505,000
(435,122)
1,066 Mississippi United States
46. UbangiUele 2,300 1,429 4,003 Congomarker Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic
47. Olenyok 2,292 1,424 219,000 1,210 Laptev Seamarker Russia
48. Dnieper 2,287 1,421 516,300 1,670 Black Seamarker Russia, Belarusmarker, Ukrainemarker
49. Aldanmarker 2,273 1,412 729,000 5,060 Lenamarker Russia
50. Negro 2,250 1,450 720,114 26,700 Amazon Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia
51. Columbia 2,250 (1,953) 1,450 (1,214) 415,211 7500 Pacific Oceanmarker United States, Canada
52. Coloradomarker (western U.S.) 2,333 1,450 390,000 1,200 Gulf of Californiamarker United States, Mexico
53. PearlmarkerXi Jiang 2,200 1,376 437,000 13,600 South China Sea P.R. China (98.5%), Vietnammarker (1.5%)
54. Redmarker 2,188 1,360 78,592 875 Mississippi United States
55. Ayeyarwadymarker

(Irrawaddy)
2,170 1,348 411,000 13,000 Andaman Seamarker Myanmar
56. Kasaimarker 2,153 1,338 880,200 10,000 Congomarker Angolamarker, Democratic Republic of the Congo
57. OhioAllegheny 2,102 1,306 490,603 7,957 Mississippi United States
58. Orinoco 2,101 1,306 880,000 30,000 Atlantic Ocean Venezuela, Colombia, Guyana
59. Tarimmarker 2,100 1,305 557,000 Lop Nurmarker P. R. China
60. Xingumarker 2,100 1,305 Amazon Brazil
61. Orangemarker 2,092 1,300     Atlantic Ocean South Africa, Namibiamarker, Botswanamarker, Lesothomarker
62. Northern Salado 2,010 1,249 Paranámarker Argentina
63. Vitimmarker 1,978 1,229 Lenamarker Russia
64. Tigrismarker 1,950 1,212 Shatt al-Arabmarker Turkeymarker, Iraqmarker, Syriamarker
65. Songhuamarker 1,927 1,197 Amurmarker P. R. China
66. Tapajós 1,900 1,181 Amazon Brazil
67. Don 1,870 1,162 425,600 935 Sea of Azovmarker Russia, Ukraine
68. Stony Tunguska 1,865 1,159 240,000 Yeniseimarker Russia
69. Pechoramarker 1,809 1,124 322,000 Barents Seamarker Russia
70. Kama 1,805 1,122 507,000 Volga Russia
71. Limpopomarker 1,800 1,118 413,000 Indian Oceanmarker Mozambiquemarker, Zimbabwemarker, South Africa, Botswanamarker
72. Guaporé (Itenez) 1,749 1,087 Mamorémarker Brazil, Bolivia
73. Indigirka 1,726 1,072 360,400 1,810 East Siberian Seamarker Russia
74. Snake 1,670 1,038 279,719 1,611 Columbia United States
75. Senegal 1,641 1,020 419,659 Atlantic Ocean Senegalmarker, Malimarker, Mauritaniamarker
76. Uruguay 1,610 1,000 370,000 Atlantic Ocean Uruguaymarker, Argentina, Brazil
77. Blue Nilemarker 1,600 994 Nile Ethiopiamarker, Sudanmarker
77. Churchill 1,600 994 Hudson Baymarker Canadamarker
77. Khatanga 1,600 994 Laptev Seamarker Russia
77. Okavangomarker 1,600 994 Okavango Deltamarker Namibiamarker, Angolamarker, Botswanamarker
77. Volta 1,600 994 Gulf of Guineamarker Ghanamarker, Burkina Fasomarker, Togomarker, Côte d'Ivoiremarker, Beninmarker
82. Beni 1,599 994 Madeira Bolivia
83. Platte 1,594 990 Missourimarker United States
84. Tobol 1,591 989 Irtyshmarker Kazakhstan, Russia
85. JubbamarkerShebellemarker 1,580* 982* Indian Oceanmarker Ethiopiamarker, Somaliamarker
86. Içá (Putumayo) 1,575 979 Amazon Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador
87. Magdalenamarker 1,550 963 Caribbean Seamarker Colombia
88. Hanmarker 1,532 952 Yangtzemarker P. R. China
89. Lomami 1,500 932 Congomarker Democratic Republic of the Congo
89. Oka 1,500 932 Volga Russia
90. Pecos 1,490 926 Rio Grandemarker United States
91. Upper Yeniseimarker 1,480 920 Yeniseimarker Russia, Mongolia
92. Godavari 1,465 910 Bay of Bengalmarker India
93. Colorado (Texas) 1,438 894 Gulf of Mexico United States
94. Río Grande (Guapay) 1,438 894 Ichilomarker Bolivia
95. Belaya 1,420 882 Kama Russia
96. CooperBarcoomarker 1,420 880 Lake Eyremarker Australia
97. Marañónmarker 1,415 879 Amazon Peru
98. Dniestermarker 1,411 (1,352) 877 (840) Black Seamarker Ukrainemarker, Moldovamarker
99. Benuemarker 1,400 870 Niger Cameroonmarker, Nigeriamarker
99. Ilimarker
(Yili)
1,400 870 Lake Balkhashmarker P. R. China, Kazakhstan
99. WarburtonGeorginamarker 1,400 870 Lake Eyremarker Australia
102. Sutlejmarker 1,372 852 Chenabmarker China, India, Pakistan
103. Yamunamarker 1,370 851 Gangesmarker India
103. Vyatkamarker 1,370 851 Kama Russia
105. Fraser 1,368 850 220,000 3,475 Pacific Oceanmarker Canada
106. Kura 1,364 848 Caspian Seamarker Azerbaijanmarker, Georgiamarker, Armeniamarker, Turkeymarker, Iranmarker
107. Grande 1,360 845 Paranámarker Brazil
108. Brazos 1,352 840 Gulf of Mexico United States
109. Cauca River 1,350 839 Magdalena Rivermarker Colombia
110. Liao 1,345 836 Bo Hai P. R. China
111. Yalong 1,323 822 Yangtzemarker P. R. China
112. Iguaçumarker 1,320 820 Paranámarker Brazil, Argentina
112. Olyokma 1,320 820 Lenamarker Russia
112. Rhinemarker 1,320 820 198,735 2,330 North Seamarker Germanymarker, Francemarker, Switzerlandmarker, Netherlandsmarker, Austriamarker, Belgiummarker, Luxembourgmarker, Liechtensteinmarker, Italymarker (minimal)
113. Northern DvinaSukhona 1,302 809 357,052 3,332 White Seamarker Russiamarker
114. Krishna 1,300 808 Bay of Bengalmarker India
114. Iriri 1,300 808 Xingumarker Brazil
115. Narmadamarker 1,289 801 Arabian Seamarker India
116. Ottawa 1,271 790 Saint Lawrencemarker Canada
117. Zeya 1,242 772 Amurmarker Russia
118. Juruena 1,240 771 Tapajós Brazil
119. Upper Mississippi 1,236 768 Mississippi United States
120. Athabasca 1,231 765 95,300 Mackenziemarker Canada
121. ElbeVltava 1,231 765 148,268 711 North Seamarker Germanymarker, Czech Republicmarker
122. Canadian 1,223 760 Arkansasmarker United States
123. North Saskatchewan 1,220 758 Saskatchewan Canada
124. Draamarker 1,218 994 Atlantic Oceanmarker Moroccomarker
125. Vaalmarker 1,210 752 Orangemarker South Africa
126. Shiremarker 1,200 746 Zambezimarker Mozambiquemarker, Malawimarker
127. Nen
(Nonni)
1,190 739 Songhuamarker P. R. China
128. Green 1,175 730 Coloradomarker (western U.S.) United States
129. Milk 1,173 729 Missourimarker United States, Canada
130. Chindwinmarker 1,158 720 Ayeyarwadymarker Myanmar
131. Sankuru 1,150 715 Kasaimarker Democratic Republic of the Congo
132. James 1,143 710 Missourimarker United States
133. Kapuas 1,143 710 South China Sea Indonesiamarker
135. Desna 1,130 702 88,900 360 Dnieper Russiamarker, Ukrainemarker
135. Helmand 1,130 702 Hamun-i-Helmandmarker Afghanistanmarker, Iranmarker
135. Madre de Diosmarker 1,130 702 Madeira Peru, Bolivia
135. Tietê 1,130 702 Paranámarker Brazil
135. Vychegdamarker 1,130 702 Northern Dvina Russia
140. Sepik 1,126 700 77,700 Pacific Oceanmarker Papua New Guineamarker, Indonesiamarker
141. Cimarron 1,123 698 Arkansasmarker United States
142. Anadyrmarker 1,120 696 Gulf of Anadyrmarker Russia
143. Jialing River 1,119 695 Yangtzemarker P. R. China
144. Liardmarker 1,115 693 Mackenziemarker Canada
145. White 1,102 685 Mississippi United States
146. Huallagamarker 1,100 684 Marañónmarker Peru
146. Kwango 1,100 684 263,500 2,700 Kasai Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo
148. Gambiamarker 1,094 680 Atlantic Ocean The Gambiamarker, Senegalmarker, Guineamarker
149. Chenabmarker 1,086 675 Indusmarker India, Pakistan
150. Yellowstone 1,080 671 Missourimarker United States
151. Chu River 1067 663 62,500 none Kyrgyzstanmarker, Kazakhstanmarker
152. Donetsmarker 1,078 (1,053) 670 (654) Don Ukrainemarker, Russia
153. Bermejo 1,050 652 Paraguay Argentina, Bolivia
153. Flymarker 1,050 652 Gulf of Papuamarker Papua New Guineamarker, Indonesiamarker
153. Guaviare 1,050 652 Orinoco Colombia
153. Kuskokwimmarker 1,050 652 Bering Seamarker United States
157. Tennessee 1,049 652 Ohio United States
158. Daugava 1,020 634 87,900 678 Gulf of Rigamarker Latviamarker, Belarusmarker, Russia
159. Gila 1,015 631 Coloradomarker (western U.S.) United States
160. Vistula 1,014 630 194,424 1,080 Baltic Seamarker Polandmarker
161. Loiremarker 1,012 629 Atlantic Ocean Francemarker
162. Essequibomarker 1,010 628 Atlantic Ocean Guyanamarker
162. Khoper 1,010 628 Don Russia
164. Tagusmarker
(Tajo/Tejo)
1,006 625 80,100 Atlantic Ocean Spainmarker, Portugalmarker


Notes

  • 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. Likewise, if the lengths from secondary information sources are similar, they are averaged and that figure has an asterisk.
  • Scientists are at a debate whether the longest river in the world is the Amazon or the Nile. Traditionally, the Nile has been considered the longer river, but recent information might point towards the Amazon possibly being the longer one of the two rivers. Differences in the recorded length of the Amazon mainly depend on whether or not it is valid to take a course south of the Ilha de Marajómarker at the Amazon's mouth. New evidence, (dated Saturday 16 June 2007) obtained from a high-altitude scientific venture in the Andes, claims that "the Amazon is longer than the Nile by 100km, with its longest headwater being the Carhuasanta stream originating in the south of Peru on the Nevado Mismimarker mountain's northern slopes and flowing into the Río Apurímacmarker"
  • Generally, the most commonly used/anglicised name of the river is used. The name in a native language or alternate spelling may be shown.
  • The exact percentage of each river in countries may be disputed (including the effects of political frontier disputes) or unknown.


River systems that may have existed in the past

Amazon-Congo

The Amazon basin formerly drained westwards into the Pacific Oceanmarker, until the Andes rose and reversed the drainage.

The Congomarker basin is completely surrounded by high land, except for its long narrow exit valley past Kinshasamarker, including waterfalls around Manyanga. That gives the impression that most of the Congo basin was formerly on a much higher land level and that it was rejuvenated by much of its lower course being removed.

In Permian and early Triassic times Africa and South America were close against each other with no sea between (see continental drift and plate tectonics), and the Congo probably drained into the Amazon basin and eventually into the Pacific. Including part of its course that was completely lost when the South Atlantic opened, its total course may have been anything up to approximately 12,000 km (7,500 miles) long.

West Siberian Glacial Lake drainage

This river would have been about 10,000 km (6,000 miles) long, in the last Ice Age. See West Siberian Glacial Lake. Its longest headwater was the Selenga river of Mongoliamarker: it drained through ice-dammed lakes and the Aral Seamarker and the Caspian Seamarker to the Black Seamarker.

Nile

Formerly Lake Tanganyikamarker drained northwards into the Albert Nile, making the Nile somewhere around 700 miles longer, until in the Miocene the Virunga Volcanoesmarker arose and blocked its course. Also, when the Mediterranean Seamarker was dry during the Messinian Salinity Crisis, the Nile extended northwards over the dry seabed and thus may have gained 100 miles or more in length.

Eridanos

The Eridanos was a large river during the Baventian Stage about two million years ago in the late early Pleistocene, when it was about 2700 kilometres or about 1700 miles long, a little shorter than the modern Danube. It began in Lapland, and then flowed through the area of the modern-day Gulf of Bothniamarker and Baltic Seamarker to western Europe, where it had an immense delta which spanned almost all the current North Seamarker. It was comparable in size to the current-day Amazon River.

Po

Similarly to the Nile, during the Messinian Salinity Crisis, the Pomarker would have extended its course south-eastwards in what is today the seabed of the Adriatic Seamarker, more or less doubling its current length (652 km), likely varying seasonally according to how far it managed to flow across the hot dry seabed until it dried.

See also



References



Notes

  1. http://www.ga.gov.au/education/facts/landforms/longrive.htm GeoScience Australia
  2. Ganges - Farakka
  3. Daily Telegraph, Monday 18 June 2007, page 18



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