The longest river in the world and central to the development of Ancient Egypt, the Nile River remains an important natural resource today, and its history is truly fascinating.
How Many Miles is the River Nile?
The River Nile is 4,132 miles long (6,650 km), making it the longest river in the world.
Nile River History
There is debate over the formation of the Nile. Experts state it formed millions of years ago, with some suggesting the Nile is 30 million years old! Formed through movement within the Earth’s mantle.
For thousands of years, the Nile River has allowed the arid, desert land on its banks to become successful agricultural land. It is because the river acts as a natural irrigation system, providing a permanent source of water that hydrates the land immediately surrounding it. As the Nile floods, this also deposits nutrient-rich silt on the riverbanks.
Land within the Nile River delta also has nutrient-rich soil due to the deposits the river makes as it leads into the sea. It is one of the reasons Cairo, Egypt’s capital located in the river’s delta, became the country’s largest city, as the Nile provided healthy land and a source for transport and trade.
Ancient Egypt and the Nile River
By providing fertile land and providing
As heavy rain in the highlands fell, this allowed the Nile River to flood its banks. This floodwater produces nutrient-rich soil called silt. As a result, the Ancient Egyptians could plant seeds and successfully grow various crops to sustain and grow their population.
The Nile also provided the Ancient Egyptians with the following:
- Papyrus. Growing on its banks, these reeds were used to create paper for writing and material to build boats.
- Food. The river also provided the Ancient Egyptians with fish, forming a large part of their diets. The Ancient Egyptians also used nets to catch birds flying close to the water.
- Trade. Because the length of the Nile allowed Ancient Egyptians to travel significant distances and trade successfully.
- Flax. It was grown along the Nile to make clothing.
The Ancient Egyptians also went one step further, creating tools to utilize the water as much as possible. For example, mud bricks trap as much water as possible during flooding. It meant they created their reserves and didn’t need to over-rely on the Nile. The same mud bricks were also used to construct buildings. A’ shaduf’ tool was also created to carry water out of the Nile and transport it elsewhere.
The Ancient Egyptians also used the Nile to construct their calendar.
Ahket: July-October – Flooding season.
Peret: November-February – Planting the fields season.
Shemu: March-June – crops harvested.
Nile River Facts
- The Nile is the longest river in the world, measuring 6,660 kilometers long.
- The Source River Nile is located in the rivers that flow into Lake Victoria in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. The river flows north through eastern Africa, eventually reaching its mouth in the Mediterranean Sea.
- The Nile flows through and along 10 African countries. Burundi, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and South Sudan.
- 95% of Egyptians live within a few miles of the Nile.
- The three main tributaries are the White Nile, the Blue Nile, and the Atbara.
- Animals that live in the Nile River include the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus, soft-shelled turtle, Nile River snakes, and African tigerfish.
- Crops grown along the Nile were cereals, emmer, wheat, and barley.
- The Egyptian god ‘Hapy’ was thought to be the bringer of water and fertility. Hence, he’s known as the Nile god.
The Nile River Today
The Nile remains an important natural resource in Egypt today. Canals were built to connect to the Nile, using the water to rinse and sustain farms and cities. In addition, the Nile is an important trade route, allowing for trade between African and European countries. The Aswan High Dam, built in 1970, has also allowed the Nile to be used as a source of hydroelectric power.
However, annual flooding no longer occurs in sections of the Nile. Also, the Aswan High Dam has resulted in sediment that would typically flow out the mouth of the river to build up behind it. These two things combined have resulted in the Nile River becoming increasingly polluted.