The Mighty Congo River Africa

Africa’s Nile River is considered to be the longest in the world, and while there may be some debate about whether or not the Amazon may be a little longer, there is no doubt the Nile is a mighty river. However, despite its length, it is not the mightiest river in Africa.

That distinction goes to the Congo River, which was also known as the Zaire River. With a length of 4,700 kilometres (2,920 miles) the Congo is merely the ninth longest river in the world, but because of its huge flow, which discharges at a maximum rate of 75,000 cubic metres per second (2,600,000 cu ft/s) during the peak season, the Congo is the third largest river in the world in terms of volume, following the Amazon and the Ganges.

The Congo has many tributaries as it flows through nine countries and is the largest transportation corridor in Central Africa. Part of the reason for the river carrying so much water is because its huge basin is located on both sides of the Equator, so there is always a rainy season adding water to its flow somewhere along its length.

Not only is the Congo long and broad, but it is also deep, with depths greater than 220 m (720 ft). Over 4,000 islands interrupt the river’s flow, making navigation difficult in some parts of the river. Then there is the natural barrier of the Livingstone Falls.

Theses falls are not a single falls, such as Niagara, but is a series of cataracts which occur along a 354km (220 miles) section of the river between Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Brazzaville, in the Republic of Congo which are separate countries neither of which have a wonderful record of human rights.

Livingstone Falls drop about 300 metres over the length of nine separate cataracts, part of which is proposed to be dammed for a hydro electric plant.

The source of the river is in the highlands of the East African Rift with the Chambesi River in Zambia considered to be the most distant source of the river and the waters of Lake Tanganyika contributing much of the volume.

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