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10 Facts About the Nile River

Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller, librarian, and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.

The Nile's significance in Egypt and the other countries through which it passes cannot be overstated.

The Nile's significance in Egypt and the other countries through which it passes cannot be overstated.

River of Life

The Nile is one of the most famous rivers in the world. Located in northern Africa, it flows through 11 countries, including Kenya, Congo, Sudan, Uganda, and Egypt, before eventually draining into the Mediterranean Sea.

The northern section of the river flows through an area that is almost entirely desert, providing a source of water and a small strip of highly fertile land. Egypt has relied on the Nile since ancient times, and most of the population still lives along the riverbanks or nearby to this day.

Below are 10 interesting facts about the Nile. Each is discussed in greater detail in the sections that follow.

10 Fun and Interesting Nile River Facts

  1. The Nile is traditionally considered the longest river in the world.
  2. The source of the river was disputed for many years.
  3. The River Nile is formed from two major tributaries.
  4. The origins of the river's name are disputed.
  5. Ancient Egyptians were dependent on the river for drinking water, food, trade, and transportation.
  6. The river played a vital role in the building of the pyramids.
  7. The southern stretches of the river are home to Nile crocodiles.
  8. The Aswan High Dam was built to control the yearly flooding of the river.
  9. The ancient Egyptian god of the Nile was known as Hapi.
  10. About half of Egypt’s population lives in the Nile Delta area.

1. The Nile Is Traditionally Considered the Longest River in the World

It measures 4,132 miles (6650 km) in total. However, rivers' starting points are often disputed, and some people now consider the Amazon to be the world's longest river. According to Wikipedia, the Amazon measures 3,997 miles (6,400 km), making it 3–4% shorter than the Nile.

"He who rides the sea of the Nile must have sails woven of patience."

— William Golding

2. The Source of the River Was Disputed for Many Years

Arguments arose because the river begins in the area of Lake Victoria, which is maintained by a number of feeder rivers that drain into it. The largest of these feeders, the Kagera river, is now accepted by most as the true source of the Nile.

3. The River Nile Is Formed From Two Major Tributaries

The tributaries are the White Nile and the Blue Nile, which meet in Sudan near the capital of Khartoum before continuing northward toward the Mediterranean Sea. The map above shows the confluence of the two rivers.

The White Nile, which begins at Lake Victoria (whose total area spans three countries), is so named due to the white color of the clay it carries. The Blue Nile, which begins at Lake Tana in Ethiopia, is so named due to the dark color of the silt it carries.

"The Egyptian Nile, though it does have its own particular hazards, is subject to none of what I find in Rhode Island. Since the Aswan High Dam was built in 1973, the Nile has become something of a grand canal. It is wide, flat, slow, and so calm it verges on the geriatric."

— Rosemary Mahoney

4. The Origins of the River's Name Are Disputed

Some people think that the name comes from the Semitic word, nahal, which means "river." Others think that the Greek word, neilos, which means "valley," is the true origin. Ancient Egyptians referred to the river as aur, which means "black," because its annual flood deposited dark sediments along its banks.

5. Ancient Egyptians Were Dependent on the River for Drinking Water, Food, Trade, and Transportation

The Nile also provided rich soil, which was essential for growing crops like wheat (for bread), flax (for clothing), and papyrus (for paper and boats).

As rainfall is almost non-existent in Egypt, ancient residents were dependent on annual floods caused by downpours in Ethiopia to supply moisture and create the thick, rich mud that was ideal for cultivation. Mud from the river was also used to create bricks for building structures and shelters.

6. The River Played a Vital Role in the Building of the Pyramids

The stone blocks used to construct the pyramids had to be transported by boat. While much of the pyramids' exteriors were made from sandstone, their centers were built from granite, which is much harder and more durable. The granite blocks used likely came from Aswan, some 900 km away, so the Nile proved crucial in their transportation.

"If you look at the Nile on a map of Egypt, you don't think it has moved very much, but the river is very violent and has moved over time."

— Sarah Parcak

This Nile crocodile is feeding on a Wildebeast, but the species is also responsible for a startling number of human deaths each year.

This Nile crocodile is feeding on a Wildebeast, but the species is also responsible for a startling number of human deaths each year.

7. The Southern Stretches of the River are Home to Nile Crocodiles

The Nile crocodile is one of the largest and most dangerous species of crocodilian. According to one study, they are responsible for between 275 and 745 attacks each year (about 63 percent of which are fatal). At one time, these aggressive reptiles could be found all the way up to the Nile Delta, but their habitat has become smaller over the years.

"Today the traveler on the Nile enters a wonderland at whose gates rise the colossal pyramids of which he has had visions perhaps from earliest childhood."

— James Henry Breasted

Before the completion of the High Aswan Dam in 1970, the Nile's annual floods were somewhat unpredictable.

Before the completion of the High Aswan Dam in 1970, the Nile's annual floods were somewhat unpredictable.

8. The Aswan High Dam Was Built to Control the Yearly Flooding of the River

The dam was built between 1960 and 1970. Previously, higher floods could wipe out crops, and drier years could result in failures and famine, but the dam now regulates water levels. The dam diverts water into irrigation canals that serve about 36,000 square kilometers of land.

In the ancient Egyptian religion, Hapi was the god of the annual flooding of the Nile. This image shows Hopi represented as two genies, symbolically tying together upper and lower Egypt.

In the ancient Egyptian religion, Hapi was the god of the annual flooding of the Nile. This image shows Hopi represented as two genies, symbolically tying together upper and lower Egypt.

9. The Ancient Egyptian God of the Nile Was Known as Hapi

The god was honored for the annual floods, which brought fertility to the land and helped sustain life year after year. He was known by a variety of titles, including Lord of the River Bringing Vegetation and Lord of the Fishes and Birds of the Marshes. He is commonly depicted as an intersex person with a large belly and large breasts dressed in a loincloth and ceremonial false beard.

Around half of Egypt's population lives in the Nile Delta area (the green, fan-shaped region that borders the Mediterranean).

Around half of Egypt's population lives in the Nile Delta area (the green, fan-shaped region that borders the Mediterranean).

10. Around Half of Egypt’s Population Lives in the Nile Delta Area

The largest city in this area is Alexandria, which has a population of over four million. The city of Rosetta can also be found in the delta region; it was here that the famous Rosetta Stone was found, its inscriptions helping modern people to understand Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Paul Goodman


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That information about the river nile is not true. Please get your facts right

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needs info of the rivers in them

max on November 07, 2019:


Bonnie4life on October 28, 2019:

Nice facts, but they are all... im not fanning them. U could do better tbh... on October 23, 2019:

this is very good information but there could be more information like the Nile River average discharge is 3.1 million litres (680,000 gallons) per second.

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unknown on April 01, 2019:

boring and stupid. i need to do an essay about the Nile and found no good info here

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don't ask me what my name is on March 01, 2019:

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im not allowed to post my name on November 20, 2018:

This article was helpful. I liked that it told who the god of the Nile is.

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It was helpful but I need facts about how it helped the ancient Egyptians :(

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Paul Goodman (author) from Florida, USA on October 06, 2018:

In my experience, some people like to learn information through watching videos, either as well as, or instead of through reading. That is why I include videos.

K on October 05, 2018:

Hi, I just have a quick question,why did you reference things in youtube videos when you could've just typed? I understand that you might be tired but just tell me why.

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Sally’s Henchman on May 14, 2018:


de wae on May 09, 2018:

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Momohen on March 13, 2018:

Hey, does the Nile start at the Nile Delta or end at the Nile Delta

bro man on March 05, 2018:

the nile r5iver is the biggest in the world

no name on February 27, 2018:

the Nile river video does not have any information

Paul Goodman (author) from Florida, USA on February 22, 2018:

There is no single agreed source of the Nile: Lake Victoria has been proposed, others say the Kagera River, others argue in favor of various tributaries that feed that Kagera.

As the article says, the Nile finishes by flowing into the Mediterranean Sea.

person on February 22, 2018:

it does not say where the nile river start and stop


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I am doing a report on the Nile too this was useful.

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I am doing a report on The Nile and so this info was very helpful. Thanks!

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Well, this site had a lot of good facts but I am doing a school presentation, it should be in complete sentences, 6th grades facts, and also it is due on next tuesday

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Thank you

Meh on September 26, 2017:

Terrible and useless

Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on July 22, 2016:

6. The river also had a vital role in the building of the Ancient Egyptian Pyramids, as the blocks of stone used for construction had to be transported by boat.

Now we know the Pyramids were made of poured natural concrete. This was discovered by a French chemist. Google geopolymers and pyramids.

Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on November 22, 2014:

Another interesting fact is in very ancient times the Nile used to flow from east to west and empty into the Atlantic. This has been shown by satellite imagery.

Another interesting point is a man named Edgar Cayce stated the Nile changed course (see above) and the Sahara was green back in the 1930s. Now how did he know that?