Curiosities of the Nile River

Curiosities of the Nile River

With a total length of 6.853 km, the Nile River has the distinction of being the second longest river in the world, surpassed only by the Amazon River, which extends for 7.062 km. The Nile River is fed by two main tributaries: the White Nile and the Blue Nile. Beyond these basic facts, there are numerous intriguing facts about the Nile River that are crucial to understanding its historical importance.

In this article we are going to tell you what the Curiosities of the Nile River more impressive.

Geographic characteristics

Nile river

These are the curiosities of the Nile River that have to do with its geographical characteristics:

  • The Nile River drainage basin, which covers approximately 10% of Africa's total land area, it covers a basin of around 3,4 million km2. With a width of approximately 2,8 km, it is a major waterway.
  • The water resources of this transnational river are shared among eleven nations: Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt. With an approximate extension of 160 km, the Nile River delta extends along a coastline of 240 kilometers. This fertile region has a long history of agricultural cultivation, spanning millennia.
  • Before 2004, no one had successfully crossed the entire Nile River.. Two intrepid explorers accomplished this remarkable feat within a period of four months.
  • The Nile River receives its water from two main sources: the White Nile and the Blue Nile. Although the Atbara River merges with the Nile in Sudan, its contribution to the total flow is less than 1%.
  • The main channel of the Nile, known as the White Nile, originates in the central region of Africa known as the Great Lakes. While the exact point of origin is not fully determined, it is believed to be located in Rwanda or Burundi.
  • Originally from Lake Tana in Ethiopia, The Blue Nile is the main provider of water and nutrient-rich soil. Its route is from the southeast of Sudan.
  • As it approaches the Mediterranean Sea, the river divides into two separate arms: the Rosetta Branch to the west and the Damietta Branch to the east. Finally, both arms merge with the waters of the Mediterranean.

Contributions to history and culture

course of the nile river

These are the curiosities of the Nile River regarding its contributions to the history and culture of Egypt:

  • The region of Upper Egypt, also known as "the land of reeds" (Ta Shemau), got its name from the abundant growth of papyrus along the banks of the Nile. Approximately 40 million people, representing about half of the population of Egypt, reside in the Nile River delta area.
  • Egypt's history has been deeply intertwined with that of the Nile, as it is home to numerous important historical sites, including Luxor and Cairo. In 1787 the renowned Rosetta stone was discovered in the Nile delta, specifically in the city of Rosetta. This ancient artifact was instrumental in improving our understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphics.
  • For many years, the Nile has constantly flooded its surrounding banks during certain seasons, resulting in the enrichment of the soil and the facilitation of irrigation in Egypt. However, the construction of the Aswan Dam in 1970 put an end to the annual floods.

Nile River Biodiversity

nile ecosystem

The Nile River is home to a rich and diverse variety of species, demonstrating the importance of biodiversity in this unique ecosystem. You can find a wide variety of fish species, including the Nile perch, known for its impressive weight of more than 80 kilograms. Other fish species present in the river include Bolti, barbel, various types of catfish, elephant nose fish, tiger fish (also known as water leopard), lungfish and eel. While hippos were once abundant throughout the Nile system, they are now limited to the Al-Sudd region and southern areas.

There are also several notable reptiles, including the softshell turtle, three varieties of monitor lizards, and approximately thirty species of snakes, more than half of which possess venomous capabilities. The Nile River crocodile, known for its immense size, can be spotted along the river, making it one of the largest crocodile species in the world.

Flood of the Nile River

The flooding of the Nile River is the key to unlocking a multitude of crucial items. It was not only the existence of the Nile River that facilitated the emergence and progress of Ancient Egypt, a civilization that stood out for its advancement during its time. The real catalyst their sustainable economy and way of life was the annual flooding of the riverbed. This natural phenomenon caused the Nile's water levels to gradually rise, eventually flooding the surrounding plains on both sides of the river.

To discover the cause of the annual flooding of the Nile River, one must venture thousands of kilometers to the southern regions, where the initial segments of this great waterway reside. It is particularly in the Blue Nile, one of the two tributaries that contribute to its volume from the Middle Nile onwards, where the answer lies. Native to the Ethiopian massif, this branch encounters a period of heavy rainfall during the months of May to August, coinciding with the monsoon season. Together with the overflowing of the Sobat River into the White Nile, this causes a significant increase in the flow of water that gradually moves northward, overcoming the six cataracts and reaching Egypt around June or July.

Therefore, The flood rate of the Nile River determined the annual cycle. During the months of July to November, the flood season occurs, followed by the period from November to March, which is known as the time of water withdrawal or land emergence. Finally, from March to July is the harvest season.

The Ethiopian Massif experiences an annual cycle of monsoon rains, but these rains can be subject to climatic variations that decrease or increase their intensity. These variations have a significant impact on the Egyptian agricultural system, as they can lead to excessive flooding of the Nile River or, conversely, a lack of sufficient water. Furthermore, the extent and timing of these floods differ across different geographic areas. To predict flood levels, In ancient Egypt, constructions such as the Nilometer were used.

Today, visitors can still observe one of these nilometers in Cairo. In particular, there are notable differences in flood patterns between Aswan, located in southern Egypt at the end of the Middle Nile, and Cairo, a more developed area located before the formation of the Delta.

The rising water level in Aswan became evident in June and peaked at the end of October, reaching a flood of almost 14 metres. A week later in Cairo, people began to notice rising floodwaters in Aswan, with the peak level reaching approximately 7,5 metres.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the curiosities of the Nile River and its characteristics.

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