50 Amazing Facts About Rivers Around the World

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1Okavango River

Okavango River

The Okavango River in Botswana does not flow into any Ocean or Sea but instead has an inland delta. Nearly 11 cubic kilometers of water each year either evaporates or transpires once it reach the Okavango Delta.

2. The lower Mississippi River is in danger of changing its course to the gulf. The river has been forced through New Orleans artificially by a series of floodgates. If they fail it will shift course 85 miles west and make America's largest port effectively useless overnight.

3. There is a river basin in Venezuela that gets struck by lightning over 200 times per hour for up to 10 hours straight. It occurs more than 100 times a year and is predictable up to a few months in advance.

4. The St. John River in New Brunswick, Canada has ‘Reversing Falls’ where not only does the river changes flow direction during the day due to the incoming water from the changing tides in the Bay of Fundy, it also becomes still for short periods (slack tides) when the flow forces are equal.

5. At one point the Chicago River was so dirty from the city's waste that it made the water from Lake Michigan undrinkable. To remedy this Chicago reversed the direction of its river away from the lake and toward the Mississippi River.

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6The Boiling River

The Boiling River

The Shanay-Timpishka is a tributary of the Amazon river and it is the world’s only "Boiling River". It is 4 miles long and is known for the very high temperature of its waters, which range from 113°F to nearly 212°F. One legend states that while looking for gold, the conquistadors boiled alive while trying to cross the river.

7. The Roe River in Montana is only 201 feet long and it used to hold the record for the “World's Shortest River” by the Guinness Book of World Records before Guinness eliminated the category.

8. River Techa in Russia is radioactive due to the fact that 1000s of tons of nuclear waste was dumped into it between 1949 and 1956. About 23 villages along the river have been evacuated, while half a million people in the region have been exposed to 20 times the radiation suffered by Chernobyl victims.

9. The Caño Cristales River in Colombia is commonly known as the 'River of Five Colors.' It can change its color between yellow, green, blue, black, and red due to its endemic plant species 'Macarenia clavígera' that grows on its riverbed. When the water level rises and sunlight hits the river floor, a vibrant color spectrum is created.

10. Every year in the Mekong River in Thailand, hundreds of fireballs erupt from the surface of the water, and nobody knows what causes them. Locals believe a mythical serpent called Naga spits fire from the water. The event is known as 'Naga Fireballs.'

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11Amazon River's Old History

Amazon River's Old History

The Amazon River once flowed into the Pacific Ocean but was dammed up by the newly formed Andes Mountains. The Amazon's basin then became a giant lake until it eroded sandstone to the west, letting the lake drain into the Atlantic and forming the modern river.

12. There are so many corpses to be found in China’s Yellow River that it is lucrative for some to recover them and sell the bodies back to the families of the deceased for $500.

13. The Congo River is the deepest river in the world. It is over 750 feet deep in many places (currents make it hard to know how much deeper it is). It also has the most endemic species of any river.

14. Yellow River's infamous floods aren’t a simply case of river overflowing its banks and returning to its original course. When uncontrolled, the river changes its course frequently and wildly. Some floods have seen the river's mouth shift as far as 480 km.

15. The Amazon River drains so much fresh water into the Atlantic Ocean that surface water at sea can be drinkable up to 200 miles from shore.

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16Mississippi River

Mississippi River

The Mississippi River was once five miles wide and whales swam up to it from the Gulf of Mexico. The remains of these whales have been found in Michigan.

17. Murderkill River is a river in Delaware that originally was named "Moeder kille" meaning "Mother River" in Dutch. When the British took over they anglicized the name and added river. Therefore it now means "Mother River River."

18. The Thames River in London is currently one of the cleanest rivers in the world that flows through a major city. It was declared biologically dead just 50 years ago.

19. The Amazon River was named after the conquistador Francisco de Orellana was defeated by a few tribes of women, thus naming it after the warrior women of Greek legend.

20. An unusually dry period led to low river levels in the Rhine in Germany in December 2011, which exposed a 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) blockbuster bomb in the riverbed near Koblenz. Around 45,000 people had to be evacuated when it was defused.

21The Great Stink

The Great Stink

During a long hot summer in 1858, the River Thames in London got so stinky, it stopped Parliament from carrying out business and made Joseph Bazalgette an unsung British hero. He was the civil engineer who proposed a project to clean it up. This event was known as ‘The Great Stink.’

22. Africa's third-longest river, ‘The Niger River,’ begins only 150 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. It instead heads inland and curves south creating a boomerang shape. About 2,600 miles later, it reaches the Atlantic Ocean in Nigeria.

23. The Yangtze River in China is the 3rd longest river in the world. It is also the longest river in the world to shed all of its water in only one country.

24. The Turia River in Spain’s Valencia was permanently diverted after constant flooding caused damage to its surrounding areas. The old riverbed is now a verdant sunken park.

25. The Yenisei River in Siberia carries more water than the Nile or the Mississippi, but was not fully navigated until 2001. It was also where Germany and Japan planned to split Asia after winning World War 2.

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