Which is the Longest River in the World? Global Ranking of River Length.
1. Nile River (6,671 kilometers) – Africa
Which is the longest river in the world? The Nile River is the longest river in the world, located in the continent of Africa. It originates from the Kagera River in the Great Lakes region and flows northward, traversing northeastern Africa through the Sahara Desert, ultimately emptying into the Mediterranean Sea. The White Nile and the Blue Nile are the two major tributaries of the Nile River, which merge in Khartoum, Sudan, and form the Nile River. The Nile River has a total length of 6,671 kilometers, starting from the source of the White Nile in the Kagera River. It flows through Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt.
2. Amazon River (6,437 kilometers) – South America
The Amazon River is a river located in the northern part of South America and is also the world’s largest river basin in terms of area, water volume, and number of tributaries. It originates from the Nevado Mismi mountain in Peru, within the Andes mountain range, and flows into the Atlantic Ocean near the equator, in the states of Amapá and Pará in Brazil. It traverses Peru, Colombia, and Brazil. The exact length of the Amazon River has been a subject of debate, but the widely accepted measurement is 6,437 kilometers, considering the Ucayali River as its source. Other measurements include 6,480 kilometers, 6,448 kilometers, and 6,575 kilometers.
Location: South America
3. Yangtze River (6,397 kilometers) – Asia
The Yangtze River, with a total length of 6,397 kilometers, deserves its title as the longest river in Asia and the third-longest river in the world. It originates from the Tanggula Mountains on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, known as the “Roof of the World,” on the southwestern side of the Geladandong Peak. It is considered the mother river of the Chinese nation. The main stem of the Yangtze River flows through 11 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities, and it empties into the East China Sea east of Chongming Island. It is a unique long river exclusive to China. The exact length of the Yangtze River varies, even among authoritative websites and literature. For example, the official website of the Anhui Provincial Government states its length as 6,397 kilometers, while the Yangtze River Conservancy Commission’s website states it as over 6,300 kilometers.
Location: Qinghai, Sichuan, Tibet, Chongqing, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu, Shanghai (11 provinces)
4. Mississippi River-Missouri River (6,021 kilometers) – North America
The Mississippi River is the largest river in the United States and the longest river in North America. The Missouri River, its longest tributary, originates from the Red Rock Lake and has a total length of 3,767 kilometers. When considering the source of the Missouri River, the Mississippi River-Missouri River system measures 6,021 kilometers in length, ranking it fourth in the world in terms of river length. As the “Mother River” of the United States, the Mississippi River serves as a natural boundary in the Midwest, flowing through the central plains of North America and eventually emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. Due to its numerous tributaries, the Mississippi River is also known as the “Old Man River” and, along with the Nile, Amazon, and Yangtze Rivers, it is considered one of the four great rivers of the world. It has the widest drainage basin in North America, with many lakes and marshes along its banks.
Location: North America
5. Yenisei River (5,539 kilometers) – Asia
The Yenisei River is located in northern Asia and serves as the boundary between the West Siberian Plain and the Central Siberian Plateau. It is the largest river flowing into the Arctic Ocean. Calculated from its source, the Selenge River-Angara River, the Yenisei River has a total length of 5,539 kilometers. It is Russia’s largest river in terms of water volume and water resources. Additionally, if we consider the Small Yenisei River as the source, its length is 4,102 kilometers, while considering the Great Yenisei River as the source, its length is 4,092 kilometers. The Yenisei River accepts more than 2,000 tributaries along its course, with a total length of approximately 250,000 kilometers. On average, there is a river every 0.15-0.16 square kilometers of the drainage area, and there are 11 rivers longer than 500 kilometers.
Location: Northern Asia
6. Yellow River (5,464 kilometers) – Asia
The Yellow River, another mother river of China, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest river in the world, second only to the Yangtze River. It is located in northern China and originates from the Zhaqu of Chaha’er Mountain in the Bayan Har Mountains of the Qinghai Province. It flows through nine provinces (autonomous regions) of China, including Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan, and Shandong, before emptying into the Bohai Sea. The main stem of the Yellow River has a total length of 5,464 kilometers, and its drainage basin covers an area of 795,000 square kilometers.
Location: Northern China
7. Ob River-Irtysh River (5,410 kilometers) – Asia
The Ob River is one of the world’s famous long rivers, located in western Siberia. If we consider the Biya River and the Katun River, which originate from the Altai Mountains, as the source, its total length is 3,650 kilometers, with a basin area of 2.97 million square kilometers. However, if we consider the Irtysh River, which originates in China, as the source of the Ob River, the length of the Ob River-Irtysh River system reaches 5,410 kilometers, making it the longest river in Russia. The basin serves as the main transportation channel in western Siberia, with numerous tributaries and abundant water resources. Upstream, it is navigable for approximately 190 days per year, while downstream, it is navigable for about 150 days per year. Many goods are transported through the Northern Sea Route across the Arctic Ocean, contributing to its historical economic development.
Location: Western Siberia
8. Lancang River-Mekong River (4,909 kilometers) – Asia
The Lancang River-Mekong River system originates from the northeastern slope of the Tanggula Mountains in China. The upper course within China is called the Lancang River, while the lower course in mainland Southeast Asia is called the Mekong River. The entire system has a total length of 4,909 kilometers and is the most important transnational water system in Asia. It flows through China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, eventually reaching the South China Sea in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Due to significant variations in flow and the presence of rapids and waterfalls along its main stem, the Mekong River has limited navigability. Only the lower 550 kilometers are navigable.
Location: East Asia, Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula
9. Congo River (4,640 kilometers) – Africa
The Congo River, also known as the Zaire River, is located in central and western Africa. With an average depth of 200 meters, it is the deepest river in the world. Its source is the Chambeshi River in the highlands of the Eastern African Rift, within Zambia. The Congo River has a total length of 4,640 kilometers, making it the second-longest river in Africa after the Nile. The Congo River basin covers an area of 4.01 million square kilometers. In terms of flow rate, the Congo River is the second-largest river in the world after the Amazon River, with an average discharge of over 40,000 cubic meters per second, and its maximum discharge has reached 81,000 cubic meters per second.
Location: Central and Western Africa
10. Heilongjiang River-Argun River (4,370 kilometers) – Asia
The Heilongjiang River, also known as the Amur River, is one of the major rivers in Asia, flowing through Mongolia, China, and Russia. It is located in northeastern Asia, and it has two sources: the northern source is the Argun River, originating in the Khentii Mountains in Mongolia and flowing through Russia, and the southern source is the Ergun River, originating in the western slope of the Greater Khingan Range in China. Taking the southern Ergun River as the source, the Heilongjiang River has a total length of 4,440 kilometers (some sources state 4,370 kilometers). Furthermore, the river has two significant tributaries above the Ergun River, namely, the Kerulen River and the Hailar River. If we calculate the total length starting from the Kerulen River, the length reaches 5,498 kilometers.
Location: Mongolia, Russia, China border region