A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including stream, creek, brook, rivulet, tributary and rill. There are no official definitions for generic terms, such as river, as applied to geographic features, although in some countries or communities a stream may be defined by its size. Many names for small rivers are specific to geographic location; one example is “burn” in Scotland and northeast England. Sometimes a river is said to be larger than a creek, but this is not always the case, because of vagueness in the language.

Rivers are part of the hydrological cycle. Water within a river is generally collected from precipitation through a drainage basin from surface runoff and other sources such as groundwater recharge, springs, and the release of stored water in natural ice and snowpacks (e.g., from glaciers). Potamology is the scientific study of rivers.

Rivers usually flow towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river.

Some run peacefully through the landscape, others run wildly. We need them for our fresh water supply, food and transportation. Many settlements started along a river.

50 Most Famous Rivers In The World

Top 10
Principal Rivers of the World
Top 10 Most Powerful Rivers in the World
World’s Twenty Longest Rivers
Photos Of The World’s Most Beautiful Rivers
The World’s Most Beautiful Rivers
World’s Rivers Amazing Pictures

Amazing Rivers And Waterfalls


The River Thames in London

Congo River

Amazon, Brazil

The Seine in Paris

Yellow River in China

Colorado River in the USA

Principal Rivers of the World

The following table lists the principal rivers of the world including the name, source location, outflow, and approximate length. The Nile is the world’s longest river stretching 6,690 kilometers.

(See Rivers of the United States for other U.S. rivers.)

      Approx. length
River Source Outflow km
Nile Tributaries of Lake Victoria, Africa Mediterranean Sea 4,180 6,690
Amazon Glacier-fed lakes, Peru Atlantic Ocean 3,912 6,296
Red Rock
Source of Red Rock, Montana Gulf of Mexico 3,710 5,970
Chang Jiang (Yangtze) Tibetan plateau, China China Sea 3,602 5,797
Ob Altai Mts., Russia Gulf of Ob 3,459 5,567
Huang He (Yellow) Eastern part of Kunlan Mts., West China Gulf of Chihli 2,900 4,667
Yenisei Tannu-Ola Mts., western Tuva, Russia Arctic Ocean 2,800 4,506
Paraná Confluence of Paranaiba and Grande rivers Río de la Plata 2,795 4,498
Irtish Altai Mts., Russia Ob River 2,758 4,438
Zaire (Congo) Confluence of Lualab and Luapula rivers, Congo Atlantic Ocean 2,716 4,371
Heilong (Amur) Confluence of Shilka (Russia) and Argun (Manchuria) rivers Tatar Strait 2,704 4,352
Lena Baikal Mts., Russia Arctic Ocean 2,652 4,268
Mackenzie Head of Finlay River, British Columbia, Canada Beaufort Sea
(Arctic Ocean)
2,635 4,241
Niger Guinea Gulf of Guinea 2,600 4,184
Mekong Tibetan highlands South China Sea 2,500 4,023
Mississippi Lake Itasca, Minnesota Gulf of Mexico 2,348 3,779
Missouri Confluence of Jefferson, Gallatin, and Madison rivers, Montana Mississippi River 2,315 3,726
Volga Valdai plateau, Russia Caspian Sea 2,291 3,687
Madeira Confluence of Beni and Maumoré rivers, Bolivia–Brazil boundary Amazon River 2,012 3,238
Purus Peruvian Andes Amazon River 1,993 3,207
São Francisco Southwest Minas Gerais, Brazil Atlantic Ocean 1,987 3,198
Yukon Junction of Lewes and Pelly rivers, Yukon Territory, Canada Bering Sea 1,979 3,185
St. Lawrence Lake Ontario Gulf of St. Lawrence 1,900 3,058
Rio Grande San Juan Mts., Colorado Gulf of Mexico 1,885 3,034
Brahmaputra Himalayas Ganges River 1,800 2,897
Indus Himalayas Arabian Sea 1,800 2,897
Danube Black Forest, Germany Black Sea 1,766 2,842
Euphrates Confluence of Murat Nehri and Kara Su rivers, Turkey Shatt-al-Arab 1,739 2,799
Darling Central part of Eastern Highlands, Australia Murray River 1,702 2,739
Zambezi 11°21’S, 24°22’E, Zambia Mozambique Channel 1,700 2,736
Tocantins Goiás, Brazil Pará River 1,677 2,699
Murray Australian Alps, New South Wales Indian Ocean 1,609 2,589
Nelson Head of Bow River, western Alberta, Canada Hudson Bay 1,600 2,575
Paraguay Mato Grosso, Brazil Paraná River 1,584 2,549
Ural Southern Ural Mts., Russia Caspian Sea 1,574 2,533
Ganges Himalayas Bay of Bengal 1,557 2,506
Amu Darya (Oxus) Nicholas Range, Pamir Mts., Turkmenistan Aral Sea 1,500 2,414
Japurá Andes, Colombia Amazon River 1,500 2,414
Salween Tibet, south of Kunlun Mts. Gulf of Martaban 1,500 2,414
Arkansas Central Colorado Mississippi River 1,459 2,348
Colorado Grand County, Colorado Gulf of California 1,450 2,333
Dnieper Valdai Hills, Russia Black Sea 1,419 2,284
OhioAllegheny Potter County, Pennsylvania Mississippi River 1,306 2,102
Irrawaddy Confluence of Nmai and Mali rivers, northeast Burma Bay of Bengal 1,300 2,092
Orange Lesotho Atlantic Ocean 1,300 2,092
Orinoco Serra Parima Mts., Venezuela Atlantic Ocean 1,281 2,062
Pilcomayo Andes Mts., Bolivia Paraguay River 1,242 1,999
Xi Jiang (Si Kiang) Eastern Yunnan Province, China China Sea 1,236 1,989
Columbia Columbia Lake, British Columbia, Canada Pacific Ocean 1,232 1,983
Don Tula, Russia Sea of Azov 1,223 1,968
Sungari China–North Korea boundary Amur River 1,215 1,955
Saskatchewan Canadian Rocky Mts. Lake Winnipeg 1,205 1,939
Peace Stikine Mts., British Columbia, Canada Great Slave River 1,195 1,923
Tigris Taurus Mts., Turkey Shatt-al-Arab 1,180 1,899

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