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The Nile River

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The 25 Longest Rivers in the World
The River as a Lifeline
The River as a Boundary
Geography links

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The Nile is the world's longest river at 4,135 miles. It has two sources, one at Lake Victoria, in Uganda (the White Nile) and one at Lake Tana, in Ethiopia (the Blue Nile).

The entire Nile River Delta is estimated to drain an area of 1,293,000 square miles. This area is so vast that is has a number of different climate areas. North, in Egypt and Sudan, rainfall is sparse. More to the south, in and around Ethiopia, rainfall is heavy, contributing to the floodwaters that rush downstream and eventually create the wonderfully fertile soil that supports so much of life in Egypt and Sudan. Dams, the most notable being the Aswan High Dam, have been built along the route to prevent massive flooding of populated areas.

The Nile River Delta is home to many species of animals, including crocodiles, turtles, baboons, wildebeest, and more than 300 species of birds, including fishing eagles, ibis, and the Nile Valley Sunbird.

The ancient Egyptians called the river Ar or Aur, meaning "black," because of the black sediment left behind after the frequent river floods. The ancient Greeks called the river Kem, which translates into "black" as well. But it is as Nile that we know this river today. Nile comes from the Greek Neilos, which means "river valley."

The people who lived along the Nile in ancient times used the river for agriculture and transportation. That hasn't changed, although the methods of agriculture and transportation have. Steam ships are still used in Egypt and Sudan, to transport goods.



 Facts About the Nile River


4,135 miles


Lake Victoria, Uganda; Lake Tana, Ethiopia


Mediterranean Sea, off Egypt

Countries Flows Through

Egypt, Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zaire, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi

Major Cities Flows By/Through

Cairo, Karhtoum, Aswan, Luxor, Alexandria, Egypt

Where Name Comes From

Greek word Nelios, which means "River Valley"

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David White