The Nile River is a major river and life source in the African continent. Despite that, few know much about it. Here are some interesting facts about the Nile River.
1. It is the longest river in the world.
The Nile has long been held to be the longest river in the world. However, there is a continued rivalry between the Nile and the Amazon as to which among the two holds that title. In the early 2000s, a team of Brazilian scientists measured the length of the Amazon as 6,992km and the Nile as 6,853km. However, a peer-reviewed article published in 2009, concluded that the Nile, which measured a length of 7,088km, is longer than the Amazon, which measured 6,575km. The peer-reviewed article used a combination of satellite image analysis and field investigations to the source regions to measure the length of the rivers. However, the debate as to which river is longer continues, with the Brazilian camp holding that the Amazon is the longest.
2. Its basin covers 11 countries.
It stretches across Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, and Egypt.
3. Its average discharge.
The river discharges at 3.1 million litres (680,000 gallons) per second. It empties into the Mediterranean Sea.
4. The true source of the Nile.
River Kagera carries water from the most distant source of the Nile. Two major tributaries feed the river: the Nyabarongo of Rwanda which feeds Lake Rweru, and the Ruvubu of Burundi. The Ruviryonza river which flows into the Ruvubu has been identified as the most distant and is thus considered to be the "true" source of the Nile.
5. Major tributaries.
Its major tributaries are the Blue Nile and the White Nile. The Blue Nile, which originates at Lake Tana in Ethiopia, is so-called because floods during the summer monsoon erode fertile soil from the Ethiopian highlands, turning the water dark brown or almost black. The White Nile, in the wider sense, means the entire Nile from Lake Victoria. In a stricter sense, the White Nile means the part of the river formed at Lake No in South Sudan. The White Nile is so-called because of the colouring due to the clay in the water. The Blue Nile supplies 80% of the Nile's water during the rainy season.
6. Ancient civilizations.
Kingdoms in Egypt and Sudan lived along the river because their land was mostly arid/desert. The river provided them with water for drinking, farming, and even transport.
7. Farming in the desert in ancient times.
The Nile flooded every August (after melting snow and heavy rains in the Ethiopian highlands), and fertile soil carried in the water was left behind, spread across the river banks as a thick moist mud (black silt) which was perfect for crop cultivation. Currently, the river doesn't flood due to the Aswan High Dam which was built in 1970. The dam stores water for irrigation, drinking, and generation of electricity. However, the ancient flooding of the river is still marked in celebrations such as the two-week Wafaa-an-Nil holiday held each year in August.
8. 95% of Egypt's population lives around the Nile.
9. Only 22% of the Nile's course runs through Egypt.
10. There have been several water-sharing disputes involving countries in the Nile basin. Attempts to solving the disputes include several equitable water-sharing agreements.
11. Climate change is drastically affecting the Nile. 250 million people rely on the Nile for water that may not exist by 2080.