Rivers of Wonder: 35 Unveiling the Beauty and Mystery of Waterways

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1River Techa

River Techa

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.

2. 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.

3. 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.'

4. 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.

5. 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.

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6Congo River's Depth

Congo River's Depth

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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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."

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11River Thames

River Thames

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.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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.’

15. 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.

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16Yangtze River

Yangtze River

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.

17. 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.

18. 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.

19. North America’s Rio Grande River is often dry and is considered an "Endangered River."

20. The Nile River used to be in a canyon the size of the Grand Canyon. It formed due to erosion after the Mediterranean Sea dried up.

21Ohio River's Low & High Record

Ohio River's Low & High Record

The Ohio River at Cincinnati was as shallow as 2 feet, in 1881, and had a record crest of 80 feet, in 1937.

22. The River Thames in England is 47 million years older than the Amazon.

23. The Colorado River has rarely actually reached the ocean for decades. All its water gets used or evaporates.

24. The Danube River holds the record for passing through most countries in the world. It crosses 10 countries, namely Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Ukraine.

25. The Amazon River didn't have a single bridge until 2012. Its first bridge was constructed with a budget of $400 million and used 1 million bags of cement.

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