List of rivers by length

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View of the River Nile, from a cruiseboat, between Luxor and Aswan in Egypt.

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

Definition of length

There are many factors, such as the source, the identification or the definition of the mouth, and the scale of measurement[1] of the river length between source and mouth, that determine the precise meaning of "river length". As a result, the length measurements of many rivers are only approximations. In particular, there has long been disagreement as to whether the Nile or the Amazon is the world's longest river. The Nile has traditionally been considered longer, but in recent years some Brazilian and Peruvian studies have suggested that the Amazon is longer by measuring the river plus the adjacent Pará estuary and the longest connecting tidal canal.[2][3][4][5]

For the purpose of determining maximum length a river's "true source" is considered to be the source of whichever tributary is farthest from the mouth. This tributary may or may not have the same name as the main stem river. For example, the source of the Mississippi River is normally said to be Lake Itasca in the U.S. state of Minnesota, but the most distant source in the Mississippi system is that of the Jefferson River in the state of Montana, a tributary of the Missouri River which in turn is a tributary of the Mississippi. When the Mississippi is measured from mouth to this farthest source, it is called the Mississippi–Missouri–Jefferson. Furthermore, it is sometimes hard to state exactly where a river begins, especially rivers that are formed by ephemeral streams, swamps, or changing lakes. In this article, length means the length of the longest continuous river channel in a given river system, regardless of name.

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 Plate and the Saint Lawrence River. Some rivers do not have a mouth, such as the Okavango, Humboldt, Bear and Kern; 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 source of some rivers starting in farming areas can be difficult to determine, if the river is formed by the confluence of several farm field drainage ditches which only contain water after rain. Similarly, in rivers starting in a chalk area, such as the Chilterns in south England, the length of the upper course which is dry varies with how high the water table is, which varies with the weather.

The length of a river between source and mouth may be hard to determine on maps due to issues of map scale. Small scale maps (those showing large areas) tend to generalize, or "smooth" lines more than large scale maps (those showing small areas).[citation needed]

Even when detailed maps are available, the length measurement is not always clear. A river may have multiple channels, or anabranches. The length may depend on whether the center or the edge of the river is measured. It may not be clear how to measure the length through a lake. Seasonal and annual changes may alter both rivers and lakes. Other factors that can change the length of a river include cycles of erosion and flooding, dams, levees, and channelization. In addition, the length of meanders can change significantly over time due to natural or artificial cutoffs, when a new channel cuts across a narrow strip of land, bypassing a large river bend. For example, due to 18 cutoffs created between 1766 and 1885 the length of the Mississippi River from Cairo, Illinois, to New Orleans, Louisiana, was reduced by 218 miles (351 km).[6]

These points make it difficult, if not impossible, to get an accurate measurement of the length of a river. The varying accuracy and precision also makes it difficult to make length comparisons between different rivers without a degree of uncertainty.

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
AfricaAsiaAustraliaEuropeNorth AmericaSouth America
RiverLength (km)Length (miles)Drainage area (km²)Average discharge (m³/s)OutflowCountries in the drainage basin
1.NileKagera[n 1]6,650
3,254,5555,100MediterraneanEthiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Egypt, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan
2.AmazonUcayaliApurímac[n 1]6,400
7,050,000219,000Atlantic OceanBrazil, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana
(Chang Jiang)
1,800,00031,900East China SeaChina, Tibet
2,980,00016,200Gulf of MexicoUnited States (98.5%), Canada (1.5%)
2,580,00019,600Kara SeaRussia (97%), Mongolia (2.9%)
6.Yellow River
(Huang He)
745,0002,110Bohai SeaChina
7.ObIrtysh5,4103,3642,990,00012,800Gulf of ObRussia, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia
8.ParanáRío de la Plata


2,582,67218,000Río de la PlataBrazil (46.7%), Argentina (27.7%), Paraguay (13.5%), Bolivia (8.3%), Uruguay (3.8%)
3,680,00041,800Atlantic OceanDemocratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Angola, Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Cameroon, Zambia, Burundi, Rwanda
(Heilong Jiang)
4,4442,7631,855,00011,400Sea of OkhotskRussia, China, Mongolia
2,490,00017,100Laptev SeaRussia
(Lancang Jiang)
4,3502,705810,00016,000South China SeaChina, Tibet, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam
1,790,00010,300Beaufort SeaCanada
2,090,0009,570Gulf of GuineaNigeria (26.6%), Mali (25.6%), Niger (23.6%), Algeria (7.6%), Guinea (4.5%), Cameroon (4.2%), Burkina Faso (3.9%), Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Chad
1,061,000767Southern OceanAustralia
16.TocantinsAraguaia3,6502,270950,00013,598Atlantic Ocean, AmazonBrazil
17.Volga3,6452,2661,380,0008,080Caspian SeaRussia
18.Shatt al-ArabEuphrates3,596
884,000856Persian GulfIraq (60.5%), Turkey (24.8%), Syria (14.7%)
19.MadeiraMamoréGrandeCaineRocha3,3802,1001,485,20031,200AmazonBrazil, Bolivia, Peru
20.Purús3,2111,99563,1668,400AmazonBrazil, Peru
21.Yukon3,1851,980850,0006,210Bering SeaUnited States (59.8%), Canada (40.2%)
22.Indus3,1801,976960,0007,160Arabian SeaPakistan (93%), India, China
23.São Francisco3,180*
610,0003,300Atlantic OceanBrazil
24.Syr DaryaNaryn3,0781,913219,000703Aral SeaKazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan
(Nu Jiang)
3,0601,901324,0003,153[10]Andaman SeaChina (52.4%), Myanmar (43.9%), Thailand (3.7%)
26.Saint LawrenceNiagaraDetroitSaint ClairSaint MarysSaint Louis3,0581,9001,030,00010,100Gulf of Saint LawrenceCanada (52.1%), United States (47.9%)
27.Rio Grande3,057
570,00082Gulf of MexicoUnited States (52.1%), Mexico (47.9%)
28.Lower Tunguska2,9891,857473,0003,600YeniseiRussia
29.BrahmaputraTsangpo2,948*1,832*1,730,00019,200[11]GangesIndia (58.0%), China (19.7%), Tibet, Nepal (9.0%), Bangladesh (6.6%), Disputed India/China (4.2%), Bhutan (2.4%)


2,888*1,795*817,0007,130Black SeaRomania (28.9%), Hungary (11.7%), Austria (10.3%), Serbia (10.3%), Germany (7.5%), Slovakia (5.8%), Bulgaria (5.2%), Croatia (4.5%),
2,693*1,673*1,330,0004,880Mozambique ChannelZambia (41.6%), Angola (18.4%), Zimbabwe (15.6%), Mozambique (11.8%), Malawi (8.0%), Tanzania (2.0%), Namibia, Botswana


2,620[12]1,628907,00012,037[13]Bay of BengalIndia, Bangladesh, Nepal, China
35.Amu Darya -- Panj2,6201,628534,7391,400Aral SeaUzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan
(Rio Yapurá)
2,615*1,625*242,2596,000AmazonBrazil, Colombia
37.NelsonSaskatchewan2,5701,5971,093,0002,575Hudson BayCanada, United States
(Rio Paraguay)
2,5491,584900,0004,300ParanáBrazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina
39.Kolyma2,5131,562644,0003,800East Siberian SeaRussia
40.Pilcomayo2,5001,553270,000ParaguayParaguay, Argentina, Bolivia
41.Upper Ob -- Katun2,4901,547ObRussia
42.Ishim2,4501,522177,00056IrtyshKazakhstan, Russia
43.Juruá2,4101,498200,0006,000AmazonPeru, Brazil
44.Ural2,4281,509237,000475Caspian SeaRussia, Kazakhstan
1,066MississippiUnited States
46.Colorado (western U.S.)2,3331,450390,0001,200Gulf of CaliforniaUnited States, Mexico
47.Olenyok2,2921,424219,0001,210Laptev SeaRussia
48.Dnieper2,2871,421516,3001,670Black SeaRussia, Belarus, Ukraine
50.UbangiUele[14]2,2701,410772,8004,000CongoDemocratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo
51.Negro2,2501,450720,11426,700AmazonBrazil, Venezuela, Colombia
52.Columbia2,250 (1,953)1,450 (1,214)415,2117,500Pacific OceanUnited States, Canada
53.PearlZhu Jiang2,2001,376437,00013,600South China SeaChina (98.5%), Vietnam (1.5%)
54.Red (USA)2,1881,36078,592875MississippiUnited States
2,1701,348411,00013,000Andaman SeaMyanmar
56.Kasai2,1531,338880,20010,000CongoAngola, Democratic Republic of the Congo
57.OhioAllegheny2,1021,306490,6037,957MississippiUnited States
58.Orinoco2,1011,3061,380,00033,000Atlantic OceanVenezuela, Colombia, Guyana
59.Tarim2,1001,305557,000Lop NurP. R. China
61.Orange2,0921,300  Atlantic OceanSouth Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho
62.Northern Salado2,0101,249ParanáArgentina
64.Tigris1,9501,212Shatt al-ArabTurkey, Iraq, Syria
65.Songhua1,9271,197AmurP. R. China
67.Don1,8701,162425,600935Sea of AzovRussia, Ukraine
68.Stony Tunguska1,8651,159240,000YeniseiRussia
69.Pechora1,8091,124322,000Barents SeaRussia
71.Limpopo1,8001,118413,000Indian OceanMozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana
72.Guaporé (Itenez)1,7491,087MamoréBrazil, Bolivia
73.Indigirka1,7261,072360,4001,810East Siberian SeaRussia
74.Snake1,6701,038279,7191,611ColumbiaUnited States
75.Senegal1,6411,020419,659Atlantic OceanGuinea, Senegal, Mali, Mauritania
76.Uruguay1,6101,000370,000Atlantic OceanUruguay, Argentina, Brazil
77.Murrumbidgee River1,600994Murray RiverAustralia
77.Blue Nile1,600994326,400NileEthiopia, Sudan
77.Churchill1,600994Hudson BayCanada
77.Khatanga1,600994Laptev SeaRussia
77.Okavango1,600994Okavango DeltaNamibia, Angola, Botswana
77.Volta1,600994Gulf of GuineaGhana, Burkina Faso, Togo, Côte d'Ivoire, Benin
84.Platte1,594990MissouriUnited States
85.Tobol1,591989IrtyshKazakhstan, Russia
86.JubbaShebelle1,580*982*Indian OceanEthiopia, Somalia
87.Içá (Putumayo)1,575979AmazonBrazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador
89.Han1,532952YangtzeP. R. China
91.Pecos1,490926Rio GrandeUnited States
92.Upper Yenisei -- Little Yenisei (Kaa-Hem)1,480920YeniseiRussia, Mongolia
93.Godavari1,465910312,8123,061Bay of BengalIndia
94.Colorado (Texas)1,438894Gulf of MexicoUnited States
94.Río Grande (Guapay)1,438894102,600264IchiloBolivia
96.CooperBarcoo1,420880Lake EyreAustralia
99.Dniester1,411 (1,352)877 (840)Black SeaUkraine, Moldova
100.Benue1,400870NigerCameroon, Nigeria
1,400870Lake BalkhashP. R. China, Kazakhstan
100.WarburtonGeorgina1,400870Lake EyreAustralia
103.Sutlej1,372852ChenabChina, India, Pakistan
106.Fraser1,368850220,0003,475Pacific OceanCanada
107.Mtkvari (Kura)1,364848Caspian SeaAzerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey, Iran
109.Brazos1,352840Gulf of MexicoUnited States
111.Liao1,345836Bohai SeaP. R. China
112.Yalong1,323822YangtzeP. R. China
113.Iguaçu1,320820ParanáBrazil, Argentina
115.Northern DvinaSukhona1,302809357,0523,332White SeaRussia
116.Krishna1,300808Bay of BengalIndia
117.Narmada1,289801Arabian SeaIndia
118.Lomami[15]1,280795CongoDemocratic Republic of the Congo
119.Ottawa1,271790146,3001,950Saint LawrenceCanada
120.Lerma - Rio Grande de Santiago1,270789119,543PacificMexico
121.ElbeVltava1,252778148,268711North SeaGermany, Czech Republic
124.Upper Mississippi1,236768MississippiUnited States
125.Rhine1,233768198,7352,330North SeaGermany, France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy (minimal), Belgium, Luxembourg
127.Canadian1,223760ArkansasUnited States
128.North Saskatchewan1,220758SaskatchewanCanada
129.Vaal1,210752OrangeSouth Africa
130.Shire1,200746ZambeziMozambique, Malawi
1,190739SonghuaP. R. China
132.Kızıl River1,182734115,000400Black SeaTurkey
133.Green1,175730Colorado (western U.S.)United States
134.Milk1,173729MissouriUnited States, Canada
136.Sankuru1,150715KasaiDemocratic Republic of the Congo
136.Wu1,15071580,3001,108Yangtze RiverChina
137.Red (Asia)1,149714143,7002,640Gulf of TonkinChina, Vietnam
138.James (Dakotas)1,143710MissouriUnited States
138.Kapuas1,143710South China SeaIndonesia
140.Desna1,13070288,900360DnieperRussia, Belarus, Ukraine
140.Helmand1,130702Hamun-i-HelmandAfghanistan, Iran
140.Madre de Dios1,130702125,0004,915BeniPeru, Bolivia
140.Vychegda1,130702Northern DvinaRussia
145.Sepik1,12670077,700Pacific OceanPapua New Guinea, Indonesia
146.Cimarron1,123698ArkansasUnited States
147.Anadyr1,120696Gulf of AnadyrRussia
147.Paraíba do Sul1,120696Atlantic OceanBrazil
149.Jialing River1,119695YangtzeP. R. China
151.Cumberland1,10568746,830862MississippiUnited States
152.White1,102685MississippiUnited States
153.Kwango1,100684263,5002,700KasaiAngola, Democratic Republic of the Congo
156.Gambia1,094680AtlanticThe Gambia, Senegal, Guinea
157.Chenab1,086675IndusIndia, Pakistan
158.Yellowstone1,080671114,260MissouriUnited States
158.Ghaghara1,080671127,9502,990GangesIndia, Nepal, China
160.Huai River1,078670270,0001,110Yangtze RiverChina
161.Aras1,072665102,000285KuraTurkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran
162.Chu River1,06766362,500noneKyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan
163.Seversky Donets1,078 (1,053)670 (654)DonRussia, Ukraine
164.Bermejo1,050652ParaguayArgentina, Bolivia
164.Fly1,050652Gulf of PapuaPapua New Guinea, Indonesia
164.Kuskokwim1,050652Bering SeaUnited States
168.Tennessee1,049652OhioUnited States
169.Vistula1,047630194,4241,080Baltic SeaPoland
170.Aruwimi[15]1,030640Congo RiverDemocratic Republic of the Congo
171.Daugava1,02063487,900678Gulf of RigaLatvia, Belarus, Russia
172.Gila1,015631Colorado (western U.S.)United States
173.Loire1,012629115,271840Atlantic OceanFrance
174.Essequibo1,010628Atlantic OceanGuyana
1,00662580,100Atlantic OceanSpain, Portugal


The Mississippi River just north of St. Louis.
Saint Lawrence River along the New York-Quebec border.

River systems that may have existed in the past


The Amazon basin formerly drained westwards into the Pacific Ocean, until the Andes rose and reversed the drainage.[17]

The Congo basin is completely surrounded by high land, except for its long narrow exit valley past Kinshasa, 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. Before Gondwanaland broke up due to continental drift, the Congo would likely have flowed into the Amazon.

West Siberian Glacial Lake drainage

This river would have been about 10,000 km (6,200 mi) long, in the last Ice Age. Its longest headwater was the Selenga river of Mongolia: it drained through ice-dammed lakes and the Aral Sea and the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea.


Formerly Lake Tanganyika drained northwards into the White Nile, making the Nile somewhere around 1,400 kilometres (870 mi) longer, until in the Miocene the Virunga Volcanoes arose and blocked its course. Also, when the Mediterranean was dry during the Messinian Salinity Crisis, the Nile extended northwards over the dry seabed and thus may have gained 160 kilometres (99 mi) or more in length.[citation needed]


When the Mediterranean Sea was dry or much lower during the Messinian Salinity Crisis, the Po would have extended its course south-eastwards in what is today the seabed of the Adriatic Sea, 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.[citation needed]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b The Nile is usually said to be the longest river in the world, with a length of about 6,650 km,[5] and the Amazon the second longest, with a length of at least 6,400 km.[4] In recent decades debate has intensified over the true source and therefore the length of the Amazon River.[2][7] Brazilian and Peruvian Studies in 2007 and 2008 added the waterway from the Amazon's southern outlet through tidal canals and the Pará estuary of the Tocantins and then concluded that the Amazon has a length of 6,992 km and was longer than the Nile, whose length was calculated as 6,853 km.[3] However, as of 2010 the length of both rivers remains open to interpretation and continued debate.[4]
  1. ^ for more on this, see coastline paradox
  2. ^ a b "Amazon river 'longer than Nile'". BBC News. 16 June 2007. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Studies from INPE indicate that the Amazon River is 140km longer than the Nile". Brazilian National Institute for Space Research. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c "Amazon River". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  5. ^ a b "Nile River". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  6. ^ Largest Rivers in the United States, United States Geological Survey.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Río de la Plata". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  9. ^ GeoScience Australia
  10. ^ Syvitski, James P. M., Vörösmarty, Charles J., Kettner, Albert J., Green, Pamela. "Impact of Humans on the Flux of Terrestrial Sediment to the Global Coastal Ocean". Archived from the original on 2006-09-19. Retrieved 2006-02-27. 
  11. ^ "River and Drainage System of Bangladesh". Retrieved 2007-02-27. 
  12. ^ Parua, Pranab Kumar (3 January 2010). The Ganga: water use in the Indian subcontinent. Springer. p. 272. ISBN 978-90-481-3102-0. Retrieved 17 May 2011. 
  13. ^ Ganges–Farakka
  14. ^ Bossche, J.P. vanden; G. M. Bernacsek (1990). Source Book for the Inland Fishery Resources of Africa, Volume 1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. p. 338. ISBN 978-92-5-102983-1. 
  15. ^ a b Bossche, J.P. vanden; G. M. Bernacsek (1990). Source Book for the Inland Fishery Resources of Africa, Volume 1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. p. 333. ISBN 978-92-5-102983-1. 
  16. ^ Daily Telegraph, Monday 18 June 2007, page 18
  17. ^ "Amazon river flowed into the Pacific millions of years ago". Retrieved 2006-02-27. 

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