Rivers can form from something as small as a mountain spring or they may start from a large lake. However they begin, there are many huge rivers on the planet. Scientists sometimes argue over which ones are the longest because it’s hard to measure them. Scientists also disagree over where a river starts.
Below are the 10 longest rivers in the world, as agreed upon by most scientists. You’ll notice that some of the rivers have more than one name. As rivers pass from one region or country to another, they may have different names, but they’re still the same rivers.
- The Nile River in Northeast Africa, which is 4,132 miles long.
- The Amazon River in South America, which is 4,000 miles long.
- The Yangtze River in China, which is 3,917 miles long.
- The Mississippi/Missouri River in the United States, which is 3,902 miles long.
- The Yenisei – Angara – Selenga River in Mongolia and Russia, which is 3, 445 miles long.
- The Yellow River in China, which is 3,398 miles long.
- The Ob – Irtysh River, which runs through Russia, Kazahkstan, China and Mongolia. It is 3,365 miles long.
- The Congo – Chambeshi River in Central Africa, which is 2,922 miles long.
- The Amur – Argun River in Russia, China and Mongolia, which is 2,763 miles long.
- The Lena River in Russia, which is 2,736 miles long.
Fun Facts About the Top 10 Longest Rivers for Kids
- Eleven different countries all share the water resources of the Nile River.
- The Amazon experiences tidal waves every year. These waves happen in late winter when the Atlantic Ocean overlaps into the Amazon at high tide. Called “pororoca”, the waves can reach up to four meters in height and travel up to 13 kilometers inland.
- Ocean-going vessels (really, really big ships) can navigate up the Yangtze River of China for up to a thousand miles.
- The Mississippi River, actually the center of the riverbed, was used as a boundary line for several states when they were first formed. The course of the river has shifted over the years but the state borders have not. This leaves some areas, like a small section of western Kentucky, separated from the rest of its state by the newly shifted river.
- The basin of the Yellow River was where the Chinese civilization got its start and began developing. For that reason the Yellow River is called “the cradle of Chinese civilization”.
- The Congo Basin has about forty hydro-power plants and two dams.
Top 10 Longest Rivers Vocabulary
- Vessels: Crafts designed for transportation on water
- Riverbed: The bottom earthen part of a river or where a river once flowed
- Boundary: The dividing line between two areas
- Basin: An area of land from which water drains into a specific river
- Hydro-power: Power generated by converting the energy of moving water
All about the Top 10 Longest Rivers Video for Kids
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A video countdown of the 10 longest rivers.
Top 10 Longest Rivers Q&A
Question: Which way will the water in a river flow?
Answer: A river’s water will flow north, south, east and west depending on which way is downhill. Gravity is the driving, or pulling, force behind the water flow of a river.
Question: How do you know if flowing water is a river, stream or a creek?
Answer: A river is defined as a natural watercourse flowing toward an ocean, lake, sea or another river. There is no definition specifically that refers to the size of the watercourse. Stream and creek are generally used to describe smaller flows of water, but it is not a scientific definition.
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