We most often associate the Nile River with Egypt, but it actually flows through 11 countries: Tanzania, Uganda, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt. The Nile River flows from south to north through East Africa.
Where does the Nile River originate?
This majestic river has two main tributaries that meet to form the Nile – the White Nile and the Blue Nile.
The White Nile, which is the longer and more important tributary, originates in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa, more precisely Lake Victoria, located in present-day Uganda.
The Blue Nile, which is shorter but carries a larger volume of water, originates in the mountainous regions of Ethiopia.
The White and Blue Niles merge at Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, and from there the Nile flows north through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea.
The fact of where the Nile River originates became known only in the middle of the 19th century. In 1848, John Henning Speke, an English officer in the British Army in India and explorer of Africa, set out on a solo journey. He was the first European to reach Lake Victoria in Central Africa and discovered that Victoria was the source of the White Nile. From the city of Khartoum to Cairo, the Nile River Valley is only about 20 km long.
The longest river in the world
The Nile River in Antiquity
The ancient Greek historian Herodotus said of the Egyptians that “the land was given to them by the river”. The waters of the Nile were the main engine of one of the first great civilizations in history. They provided Ancient Egypt with fertile soil, water for irrigation, and at the same time played the role of a major transportation artery. On the banks of the Nile cities sprung up and blossomed in the heart of the desert. The ancient Egyptians adapted to the Nile’s annual cycles and periodic floods. Because of the river, they develop new technologies and skills – from farming to creating vessels.
The waters of the Nile played a huge role in the construction of the pyramids – the majestic tombs of the pharaohs, which we rightly consider today as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Nile also influenced the spiritual world of the ancient Egyptians – their religion, culture and worldview.
The name “Nile” is of Greek origin and means “river valley”. The Egyptians themselves call it “Ar” or “Aur” – “Black” because of the black sediments that are deposited on the bottom of the river and in the soils around it. At the end of each summer, the waters leave the bed and turn the valley downstream into a fertile arable area. The annual calendar of the Egyptians begins with the first month of the arrival of the river, which is a proof of its great importance in their life. One of the most revered gods among the Egyptians was the god Hapi, who controlled the movement of the river.
Interesting facts about the Nile River
* 41% of Egyptians live in the Nile Delta.
The Nile Delta is about 161 km long and is the largest delta in the world. Although the area of the delta represents only 2% of the total area of Egypt, 41% of the country’s population lives here.
* The crocodiles in the river are dangerous.
It is believed that one of the most feared bodies of water in Africa is the Nile with its dangerous crocodiles. Along the banks and in the depths of the river there is a huge variety of animals: rhinoceroses, tigers, hippopotamuses, frogs, crocodiles. Nile crocodiles are apex predators that will also attack humans if they feel threatened or if they are hungry. Nile crocodiles are very aggressive and have attacked far more people than any other crocodile species.
The source of the Nile River remains a mystery after thousands of years
* River basins make up 10% of Africa’s territory.
If the areas of the water basins of the 11 countries through which the Nile flows are added, the area will be equal to as much as 10% of the total area of the African continent.
* The Aswan Wall controls the flooding of the Nile.
The famous Aswan Dam played a major role in controlling the Nile River. It was built near the city of Aswan in southern Egypt in the period 1958-1970.
In some sections of the Nile, hydropower facilities have been built. The largest is “Aswan”, which supplies energy to about 50% of the territory of Egypt. Other large dams on the Nile are the Roseires and Senar dams.
* The Nile provided food and water to the Egyptians.
Without the Nile, the Egyptian civilization would hardly have existed. The importance of the river is huge even nowadays. The river enables the implementation of large-scale projects for irrigation and food production. In addition, among Egypt’s huge revenues are activities such as fish farming and water conservation.