The legendary Nile River has always been believed to be the longest in the world, but what if it wasn't? Measuring these streams is not as easy as it sounds, not even for hydrographic cartographers as it depends on different factors: the measurement scale being used, where one river begins and another ends (since many streams meet to river systems), their length or their volume.
Many experts argue that the longest river on the planet is actually the Amazon. But why is there so much controversy on this topic? What is actually the longest river in the world?
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The Nile River
Currently, this Guinness record title is in dispute between the Nile and the Amazon. Traditionally, the Nile River has been considered the longest at 6.695 kilometers, which originates in East Africa and flows into the Mediterranean Sea. Along its journey it crosses ten countries:
- Democratic Republic of Congo
This means that more than 300 million people depend on the Nile River for water supply and irrigation of crops. In addition, the energy from this natural stream of water is harnessed by the Aswan High Dam, to provide hydroelectric power and control the summer floods since 1970, the year of its construction. Amazing! truth?
The amazon river
According to the United States National Parks service, the Amazon River measures approximately 6.400 kilometers. Although it is not the longest river, it is the largest in the world by volume: about 60 times more than the Nile River, whose flow is only 1,5% that of the Amazon.
If we look at its flow, the American river is the king of all rivers as it discharges an average of 200.000 cubic meters every second into the Atlantic Ocean. Such is the amount of water it spews out that in just 5 days it could fill the entire Lake Geneva (150 meters deep and 72 kilometers long). Absolutely awesome.
The Amazon also has the largest hydrographic basin on Earth, which runs through countries such as:
The Amazon rainforest is also located in its basin, which is home to many wild species such as mammals, reptiles or birds.
On the other hand, the Amazon River is the widest in the world. When it does not overflow, its main sections can be up to 11 kilometers wide. It is so extremely wide that trying to cross it on foot would take 3 hours. You read that right, 3 hours!
Where is the controversy then?
According to the United States National Parks service, the Nile River is the longest river in the world at 6650 kilometers while the Amazon is the second at 6.400 kilometers. The problem arises when other experts argue that the American River is actually 6.992 kilometers long.
The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics published a few years ago an investigation stating that the Amazon is the longest river in the world. They came to the conclusion that the source of the river is at a point to the south of Peru instead of to the north as it had hitherto been argued.
To conduct this research, the scientists traveled for two weeks to establish the altitude at about 5.000 meters. Until then, the source of the Amazon had been set in the Carhuasanta ravine and the Mismi snow-capped mountain, but the Geographical Society of Lima confirmed through satellite images that the Amazon River originated in the Apacheta ravine (Arequipa), therefore which would become the longest river in the world, exceeding the Nile River by almost 400 kilometers.
Who has the reason?
The scientific community in general continues to insist that the Nile River is the longest in the world. Who has the reason? It is not known for sure because the issue remains under debate. Although, given the width and its enormous volume, perhaps it would be necessary to lean towards the Amazon.