Major Rivers of the World – Part 4

Major Rivers of the World Part 1

Major Rivers of the World – Part 4

The Americas

  • The Americas were a pair of unknown landmasses till in 1492 when Christopher Columbus reached it.
  • Columbus in search of what he believed to be the sea route to India made landfall on what is part of modern-day Bahamas islands.
  • He though believed that he had discovered a sea route to East Asia and called the peoples there as Indians.
  • The continents got their name from Amerigo Vespucci who was an Italian merchant, explorer, and navigator.
  • He was the first person to understand that the lands Columbus discovered were part of an as of yet unknown continent which he termed the “New World.”

North America

  • Contrary to popular belief, North America does not mean just USA, Mexico and Canada.
  • In fact, the continent of North America contains 23 countries and more than two dozen non-sovereign territories.
  • North America is divided into three general areas: Northern America, the Caribbean, and (somewhat confusingly) Central America.
  • Linguistically and culturally, North America can be divided into Anglo-America to the north and Latin America to the south.
  • Let us go through the important rivers of North America.


  • The Colorado River is one of the principal rivers in the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico.
  • It originates in the central Rocky Mountains of Colorado and flows south west into Mexico before entering the Gulf of California.
  • The world-famous Grand Canyon has been carved by the Colorado river.


  • The Hudson River is a 507km river that flows from north to south primarily through eastern New York.
  • It originates in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York and flows southward before draining into the Atlantic Ocean at New York Harbor.
  • The river serves as a political boundary between the states of New Jersey and New York at its southern end.


  • The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river of the second-largest drainage system in North America.
  • From its source of Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota, it flows generally south for 3,770 km to the Mississippi River Delta in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The Mississippi ranks as the thirteenth-largest river by discharge in the world.


  • The Missouri River is the longest river in the United States.
  • It originates in the Rocky Mountains and flows east and south for 3,767 km before entering the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Although a tributary of the Mississippi, the Missouri River is marginally longer and carries a comparable volume of water.
  • When combined with the lower Mississippi River, it forms the world’s fourth longest river system.

Rio Grande

  • The Rio Grande known in Mexico as the Río Bravo del Norte or simply the Río Bravo, is one of the principal rivers in the southwestern United States and in northern Mexico.
  • It originates in south-central Colorado, in the United States, and flows to the Gulf of Mexico.
  • After traversing the length of New Mexico, the Rio Grande becomes the Mexico–United States border, between the U.S. state of Texas and the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua and Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas.


  • The Yukon River is a major watercourse of northwestern North America.
  • It originates in British Columbia, Canada, and flows through Canada’s territory of Yukon.
  • The river is 3,190 kilometres long and empties into the Bering Sea at the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta.
  • It is the longest river in Alaska and Yukon and was one of the principal means of transportation during the 1896–1903 Klondike Gold Rush.


South America

  • South America ranks fourth in area and fifth in population.
  • The overwhelming majority of South Americans speak Spanish or Portuguese.
  • Let’s look at some of the major rivers of South America.


  • The Amazon River is the largest river by discharge volume of water in the world, and the disputed longest river system in the world in comparison to the Nile.
  • The headwaters of the Apurímac River on Nevado Mismi had been considered for nearly a century as the Amazon basin’s most distant source.
  • This however was proven wrong when a 2014 study found it to be the headwaters of the Mantaro River on the Cordillera Rumi Cruz in Peru.
  • The Amazon River has an average discharge of about 215,000 m3/s which is greater than the next seven largest independent rivers combined.
  • The Amazon represents 20% of the global riverine discharge into oceans.
  • The Amazon basin is the largest drainage basin in the world, with an area of approximately 7,000,000 km2.


  • The Araguaia River is one of the major rivers of Brazil and is approximately 2,627 km long.
  • The Araguaia River originates from Goiás-Mato Grosso south borders.
  • From there it flows northeast to a junction with the Tocantins near the town of São João.
  • Roughly in the middle of its course the Araguaia splits into two forks which later reunite, forming the Ilha do Bananal, the world’s largest river island.


  • The Paraguay River is a major river in south-central South America, running through Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina.
  • It flows about 2,695 kilometres from its headwaters in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso to its confluence with the Paraná River north of Corrientes and Resistencia.


  • The Paraná River is a river in south-central South America, running through Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina for some 4,880 kilometres.
  • Among South American rivers, it is second in length only to the Amazon River.
  • It merges with the Paraguay River and then farther downstream with the Uruguay River to form the Río de la Plata and empties into the Atlantic Ocean.

Rio Negro

  • The Rio Negro or Guainía as it is known in its upper part, is the largest left tributary of the Amazon River.
  • It is the largest blackwater river in the world, and one of the world’s ten largest rivers by average discharge.