River Nile with a length of approximately 4,258 miles (6,853 kilometres) is considered the longest river in the world. The river passes through eleven countries namely Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt in its course of flow. It flows northward through the tropical climate of eastern Africa into the Mediterranean Sea.

With the flow rate of an average volume of 300 million cubic meters (79.2 billion gallons) per day, the river water near Lake Victoria takes around three months to reach the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile is separated into two major tributaries where the longer primary stream is called the White Nile and the other the Blue Nile, which carries about two-thirds of the river’s volume of water and silt.

Historical Background

Regarded as the “Father of Life” and the “Mother of All Men”, the Nile was said to be the source of life for Ancient Egyptians. Scarcity of rainfall in Egypt was also one of the reasons why the river was a significant for the Egyptians as it was the primary resource of fertile Oasis for agriculture. Besides, the river was also considered to be holy for them as they associated it with many Gods and Goddesses and believed that it has the power to perform miracles and bring prosperity in people’s lives.

Origin and Source of Nile River

The Nile originates in Uganda sourced from Lake Victoria, but because of many streams and a large river Kagera flowing out of Rwanda into Lake Victoria, it makes sense to say that actual source of Nile is in Rwanda.

Why was it Named Nile?

The name Nile originated from the Greek word ‘Neilos’ meaning ‘valley’ referring to the valley of green oasis that Nile created in otherwise dry deserts of Egypt.

Mythology of the River Nile

Nile was the only source of agriculture for ancient Egyptians. In fact it is the prime reason for the evolution of one of the world’s remarkable civilization- Egyptian civilization. Egyptians associated river Nile with numerous Gods and Goddesses. They believed that these gods observe them closely and can deeply impact their life and prosperity. Nile was also considered a manifestation of god Hapi who blessed the land with abundance, providing credence to the Nile’s agricultural significance. Some myths consider Nile as ‘Isis’, the goddess who taught people how to cultivate the land. Ancient Egyptians held water god ‘Khnum’ responsible for the amount of black silt left by Nile during annual flooding.

Interesting Facts about Nile River

Some interesting facts about river Nile are given below-

 

  1. It is the longest river in the world.
  2. It has a total length of approximately 4258 miles (6853 kilometres).
  3. It passes through 11 countries- Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt in its course of flow.
  4. It originates from Lake Victoria in Uganda.
  5. Actual source of Nile is in Rwanda.
  6. It flooded every year in ancient times during the month of June-September.
  7. Floods brought black sediments which made the coastal soil fertile a reason why ancient Egyptians called the river ‘Aur’ or black.

Flora and Fauna

The banks of river Nile abounds infinite species of animals such as the Hippopotamuses, Rhinoceros, African Triggerfish (the “Piranha of Africa”), Nile Monitors, Wildebeests, Baboons, Frogs, Mongooses, Enormous Vundu Catfish, Turtles and  Tortoises, just to name a few. Apart from this, the Nile Delta is home to innumerable water birds during winters. National Geographic report stated loss of lives of about 200 people per year as they would fall prey to the Nile crocodile (18-20 feet length) which has a reputation of man eater.

Flooding

Heavy rainfall during summers in the Ethiopian Mountains would cause overflow of the Blue Nile that would result in excess water spilling over the banks on the dry desert land of Egypt. What is left as a residue after the floods subsides is thick black silt, or mud on the ground, a productive resource fuelling plantation of crops. A report carried out by the New World Encyclopaedia says that nearly 96 percent of the sediment transmitted out by the Nile River originates in Ethiopia.

While the silt area was known as the Black Land, the desert land was called as the Red Land. The Aswan High Dam was set up in Egypt during 1960’s to help control Nile’s flooding.  However, today floods are a rare sight along the Nile. Ancient Egyptians were religious people and were never behind in offering reverence to the mother Nile for sustaining their livelihood, so as the floods facilitated the irrigation systems that multiplied their agricultural produce, a  two weeks festival named ‘Wafaa El-Nil’  is celebrated in Egypt in memory of their river’s copious blessing.

 

Government Laws in Place

Effective planning for optimum use of the river’s resources can be accredited to Joseph Awange. He is the associate professor in the Department of Spatial Sciences at Curtin University, Australia. With the help of satellites, he has been keeping a check on the volume of water in the Nile River and reporting the findings to the Basin countries. The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), an intergovernmental partnership among all the Basin States, was formed in 1999 that offers a forum for talks and deliberations among the countries to help manage and share amongst them the river’s resources.

FAQs

We have given below some FAQs (frequently asked questions) related to this topic, which may help you to know about this topic in deep. You can also take help of these FAQs to prepare objective type questions about this topic for your exams or further preparations:

  • What is length of Nile River?

The length of river Nile is 4258 miles (approximately 6853 kilometres).

  • Where is the River Nile?

Nile passes through 11 countries in eastern Africa and Egypt before falling in Mediterranean Sea.

  • Where is the source of the River Nile?

The actual source of Nile lies in Rwanda. The Nile originates in Uganda sourced from Lake Victoria, but because of many streams and a large river Kagera flowing out of Rwanda into Lake Victoria it makes sense to say that actual source of Nile is in Rwanda.

  • Where does the Nile River start?

River Nile originates from Lake Victoria in Uganda.

  • Which two main rivers flow into the River Nile?

River Nile is formed from White Nile originating in Lake Victoria and Blue Nile originating in Lake Tana in Ethiopia.

  • Why did the Ancient Egyptians live near the River Nile?

Egypt being scarce of rain was mostly a desert with no source of water. Nile was a blessing for Egyptians providing them a constant source of water for agriculture and domestic purposes. Moreover after annual flooding a receding Nile left behind lands covered with black silt which it carried during floods. This black silt made the soil very fertile and useful for Egyptians to dwell along the river coastline.

  • Why is the Nile River important?

River Nile is important because it is the only source of water for millions living in otherwise dry deserts with scarcity of rains and no source of water. Nile provides water for agricultural and domestic purposes in abundance to millions living along its coast.

  • Why was the Nile River so important to the Ancient Egyptians?

River Nile was like an Oasis in the dry deserts of Egypt. With almost negligible annual rainfall and long dry deserts with not a green plant for miles, Nile was a blessing creating lush green delta within the desert. For ancient Egyptians Nile was the only source of agriculture and hence prosperity making them one of the remarkable civilizations of the world.

  • What else did the Nile provide for the Ancient Egyptians?

Apart from being a source of water, Nile also sustains animal life in abundance. Nile and its deltas have abundance of Rhinoceros, Piranhas and hundreds of species of birds living in the Nile delta, not to mention the most feared of them all – The Nile crocodile. Apart from water and wildlife Nile was also a mode of transportation- Sailing boats were first developed by Egyptian civilization. Papyrus also grew on the banks of Nile which was used for making boats and paper.

  • What was the area next to the River Nile Called?

Area close to river Nile and under the influence of annual flood was called the Black Land owing to the black silt left behind by flooding river. Land farther away was called Red Land, a region of inhospitable desert.

  • When did the Nile flood occur?

Nile flood use to occur annually in the months of June-September, a season called ‘Akhet’ by Egyptians, meaning inundation.

  • Why did the Nile Flood occur?

Melting of snow and heavy summer rains in Ethiopian mountains send torrent of water into the Nile causing it to overflow to its banks.

  • Why the Nile does not flood now?

Because of the construction of Aswan dam in the year 1960, the overflow of Nile is prevented.

  • Who was the Nile God?

Hapi was the Nile God and was thanked by Egyptians during floods for bringing fertility.