top of page
Geography topics for you to learn and enjoy
Geography topics for you to learn and enjoy

River facts

Here is a list of key facts all about rivers. You can find out which is the longest river in the world and what a river is. Read on to find out more.

river facts - A beautiful river

Salmon River, Idaho, US

What is a river?

Definition of a river: A river is a large natural stream of water flowing in a channel to the sea, a lake, or another stream.

Synonyms for river.

Other words for river include:    stream, waterway, brook, creek (US), tributary, brooklet, rivulet, burn (Scotland), course, beck, rill


Longest rivers in the World

river facts - graph showing the top 10 longest rivers in the world

1        Nile                   6,650 km   

2       Amazon         6,400 km
3       Yangtse         6,300 km
4      Mississippi    6,275 km
5      Yenesei          5,539 km
6      Yellow            5,464 km
7      Ob                     5,410 km
8     Parana           4,880 km
9     Congo             4,700 km
10   Amur               4,444 km

Biggest rivers in the World

1   Amazon    209,000 m3/s 
2   Ganges   42,470 m3/s
3   Congo   41,200 m3/s
4   Orinoco    35,000 m3/s
5   Yangtze    33,000 m3/s
6   Madeira    31,200 m3/s
7   Rio Negro    28,400 m3/s
8   Parana    25,700 m3/s
9   Brahmaputra   19,200 m3/s
10   Yenisei    18,040 m3/s
m3/s = cubic metres a second

Interesting fact:

The river Amazon is so big, it is as bigger than the next 5 biggest rivers combined!

River facts - The amazon river in Brazil is the longest river in the world.

The Amazon River, Brazil. 

Longest rivers in the UK

River facts - the longest river in the UK is the river Severn. | UK rivers

The River Severn, England. 

1     River Severn                 354 km

2     River Thames               346 km

3     River Trent                    297 km

4     River Great Ouse       230 km

5     River Wye                      215 km

6     River Ure                       208 km

7      River Tay                      188 km

8     River Spey                    172 km

9     River Clyde                   172 km

10   River Nene                    161 km 

Longest rivers in the US

River facts - the longest river in the UK is the river Severn. | UK rivers

The Missouri River, USA

1     Missouri River        2,341 miles  (3,768 km)
2     Mississippi River   2,202 miles  (3,544 km)
3     Yukon River            1,979 miles  (3,185 km)
4     Rio Grande              1,759 miles  (2,830 km)
5     Colorado River      1,450 miles (2,330 km)
6     Arkansas River      1,433 miles  (2,322 km)
7      Columbia River     1,243 miles  (2,000 km)
8     Red River                  1,125 miles  (1,811 km)
9     Snake River             1,040 miles  (1,674 km)
10    Ohio River                   979 miles  (1,575 km)

River facts

List of leisure activities you can do in a river.

Swimming, sailing, canoeing, white water rafting, using motor boats, water skiing, fishing, river cruises, canyoning, boat trips, Ice skating (in winter where possible),   walking and cycling along the river, eating and drinking overlooking the river.

river facts - list of leisure activities you can do by a river

What are rivers used for?

Rivers are also used for drinking water, bathing, washing, as a source of food, transporting goods, transporting people, disposing waste, making hydropower, to drive machinery using a water wheel, act as a border and they help with defence.

How can you cross a river?

Rivers can be crossed by bridges, fords, tunnels, ferries and in London, by a cable car.

river facts - how can you cross a river?
river facts - dried up river

Does the river ever run out of water?

Sometimes, yes. Most rivers will flow for all of the year. Some rivers in arid parts of the world only flow for part of the year though and they stop running during the dry season.


Which is the largest drainage basin in the world?

The largest river drainage basin area in the world is that of the Amazon river. It drains an area of 6,144,000 square kilometres.  The second largest drainage basin in the world is that of the Rio de la Plate (River Plate) also in South America. It drains an area of 4,144,000 square kilometres making South America the undisputed king of big rivers.


One river channel or two?

Most rivers have one channel but sometime the river can split into more than one channel and this is called a braided river system. When the river meets the sea, it can spread out all over the place and this is called a river delta.


river facts - rivers with more than one channel

Where does all the water go?

Nearly half of all the land in the world (48.7%) drains into the Atlantic ocean.

Source: Wikipedia


The largest river festival in the world

The largest river festival in the world is the Sumida river firework festival in Tokyo, Japan. It dates back to the 19th century and it is attended by 1,000,000 people every year.


river facts - world's largest river festival

What is brackish water?

Brackish water is neither salt water or fresh water but a mixture of the two. It is found where rivers meet the sea and there are animals and plants which can only live in brackish water like the Archer fish shown in this picture.


fish that live in brackish water

Are there rivers in space?

Yes. Rivers have been found in space. Here is a picture of a river on Saturn’s moon, Titan. Only this is not a river of water, it is a river of methane.


river facts - rivers in space | river found on Saturn's moon, Titan

In this topic, we look at the geography of rivers. We look at interesting river facts and images of rivers that help us to understand how rivers shape the land. There is a range of river models that you can be inspired by and we have also collated a range of worksheets that are free to download and print. These will all help you to understand all about the geography of rivers. 


bottom of page