Want to know which is the longest river in the world? Take a look at a map of any country in the world. Notice how the cities are located next to the rivers? This is not a coincidence. Rivers provide water for the essential needs of both small towns and large cities. There is a good chance that you live near one of the big rivers of the country. Ever wondered which rivers are the longest? See the graphic below to see our short list of 10 longest rivers in the world.
10. Niger River – 4,180 km
The Niger River is the principal river in West Africa, extending for approximately 4,180 km (2,600 mi). The drainage basin occupies an area of 2,117,700 km2 (817,600 sq mi). Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea, near the Sierra Leone border.
Niger runs across the Gulf of Guinea into the Atlantic Ocean as the Niger Delta (or oil rivers), taking a vacation through a large-scale delta through Mali, Niger, and then through Nigeria, along the border with Benin.
Niger is the third longest river in Africa. It is more than just the Nile and the Congo River (also known as the Zaire River). Its main tributary is the Benue River. The Niger River ranks tenth among the 10 longest rivers in the world.
- Countries: Benin, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria
- Length: 4,180 km (2,600 mile)
09. Irtysh River – 4,248 km
Irtysh is the major tributary of the Ob and is also the longest tributary in the world. The source of the river is located in the Mongolian Altai in Dzungaria (northern part of Xinjiang, China), close to the border with Mongolia.
The main tributaries of the Irish include Tobol, Demanca and Ishim. The Ob-Irtysh system forms a major drainage basin in Asia, covering most of Western Siberia and the Altaf Mountains. The Irtysh River ranks ninth among the 10 longest rivers in the world.
- Countries: Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan, Russia
- Length: 4,248 km (2,640 mile)
08. Lena River – 4,294 km
The Lena is the easternmost of the three great Siberian rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean. Permafrost completes most of the catchments, of which 77% is continuous.
It is 4,294 kilometers (2,668 mi) long, and has a drainage basin of 2,490,000 square kilometers (960,000 square miles). Lena is the eight longest river in the world, and the longest river in Russia.
It is generally believed that Lena takes her name from the original Sama-Even name Eliu-an, meaning “the big river”.
- Country: Russia
- Length: 4,294 km (2,668 mi)
07. Mekong River – 4,350 km
The Mekong River is a cross-border river in East Asia and Southeast Asia. It is the seventh longest river in the world and the sixth longest in Asia.
It has an estimated length of 4,909 km (3,050 mi), and leaves an area of 795,000 km 2 (307,000 sq mi), discharging 475 km 3 (114 cubic mi) of water per year. From the Tibetan plateau, the river passes through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Extreme seasonal variations in flow and the presence of rapids and waterfalls in the Mekong make navigation difficult. Nevertheless, the river is a major trade route between Western China and Southeast Asia.
- Countries: China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam
- Length: 4,350 km (2,700 mile)
06. Congo River – 4,700 km
The Congo River, formerly known as the Zaire River, is the second longest river in Africa. It is smaller than the Nile River, as well as the second largest river in the world by discharge volume, after only the Amazon. It is the deepest recorded river in the world, measuring more than 220 meters (720 ft) in depth.
The total length of the Congo-Lualaba-Chambeshi river system is 4,700 km (2,920 mi). The Congo is the sixth longest river in the world. It is a tributary of the Chambeshi Lualaba River, and is the name of the Congo River of Lualaba Boyoma Falls, which spans 1,800 km (1,120 mi). The Congo River ranks sixth among the 10 longest rivers in the world.
- location: Boyoma Falls
- Length: 4,700 km (2,900 mile)
05. Paraná River – 4,880 km
The Paraná River is a river in south central South America that runs for approximately 4,880 kilometers (3,030 mi) through Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. It is the second in length of the Amazon River among South American rivers. The name Parana is an abbreviation for the phrase “para rehe onáva”, which comes from the Tupi language and means “like the sea” (that is, “as big as the sea”).
It first merges with the Paraguay River and then flows downstream along the Uruguay River to form the Río de la Plata and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The Parana River ranks fifth among the 10 longest rivers in the world.
- Countries: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay
- Length: 4,880 km (3,030 mile)
04. Yellow River – 5,464 km
The Yellow River or Huang is the second longest river in China after the Yangtze River. It is the fourth longest river in the world at an estimated length of 5,464 km (3,395 mi). Originating in the Bayan Har mountain in western China’s Qinghai province, it flows through nine provinces. And it joins the Bohai Sea near Dongying City in Shandong Province.
The east-west range of the Yellow River Basin is approximately 1,900 kilometers (1,180 mi) and the north-south range is about 1,100 km (680 mi). Its total drainage area is approximately 795,000 square kilometers (307,000 square miles).
- Country: China
- Length: 5,464 km (3,395 mile)
03. Yangtze River – 6,300 km
The Yangtze or Yangzi is the longest river in Asia. And is the world’s third longest and completely the world’s longest river flowing within a country. It rises on the Brocade Hill in the Tanggula Mountains (Tibetan Plateau) and flows 6,300 km (3,900 mi) in the East China Sea generally in the extreme direction. It is the sixth largest river in the world with the sixth volume. Its drainage basin covers one-fifth of China’s land area, and accounts for about a third of the country’s population.
The Yangtze has played a major role in China’s history, culture and economy. For thousands of years, the river has been used for water, irrigation, sanitation, transportation, industry, border-marking and warfare. The prosperous Yangtze River Delta accounts for 20% of China’s GDP.
- Country: China
- Length: 6,300 km (3,900 mile)
02. Amazon River – 6,400 km
The Amazon River in South America is the largest river in the world by discharging water content, and the second longest river in the world.
Recent geological studies suggest that the Amazon River had flowed in the opposite direction for millions of years – from east to west. Eventually the Andes Mountains were formed, blocking its flow into the Pacific Ocean and causing it to change the direction of its current mouth in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Countries: Peru, Colombia, Brazil
- Length: 6,400 km (4,000 mile)
01. Nile River – 6,650 km
The Nile River is a major north-flowing river in north-east Africa. It is the longest river in Africa and is historically considered the longest river in the world. However this research has been contested by suggesting that the Amazon River is slightly longer.
The Nile River is approximately 6,650 km (4,130 mi) long and its drainage basin consists of eleven countries. These include Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Erodria, South Sudan, Republic of Sudan and Egypt. The Nile River in particular is the primary water source of Egypt and Sudan.
- Countries: Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi
- Length: 6,650 km (4,130 mile)