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River Information

Nile - 

The Nile is the longest river in the world. The Blue Nile and White Nile join just north of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. The river flows on through Egypt, into the Mediterranean Sea. Almost all Egyptians live clustered close to the Nile's banks. The Aswan High Dam, one of the largest dams in the world, is a mixed blessing. It has ensured dependable water supplies for agriculture, but these are often used for thirsty export crops like cotton. Silt is trapped behind the dam, and not deposited on the fertile delta at the end of the river, so the delta is being eroded away by the sea. 90% of the river's natural flow is used by irrigation or lost through evaporation - only 10% reaches the sea. 

Yangtze - 

The Yangtze is the longest river in Asia. It rises in the Tanglha mountains, very near Tibet, and enters the Yellow Sea near Shanghai. It has over 700 tributaries, and the drainage basin (area drained by the river) covers 20% of China's total land area. The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze will be the world's biggest dam when it is completed. It is intended to control flooding and provide energy. However, it will also flood 1 million people from their homes and 300,000 farmers will lose their land (because of the lakes that will form behind the dams). People are concerned about the long term social and ecological costs. 

Ganges - 

The Ganges rises in the Himalayan glaciers in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, and ends at the Bay of Bengal where it forms one of the world's largest deltas. The waters of the Ganges are considered sacred in Hindu mythology. The river provides water and drainage for 350 million people. The waters are heavily polluted, partly from the 40,000 people cremated each year at Benares (and their ashes scattered in the river), but mainly from the distilleries, refineries, chemical factories and fertiliser complexes along the river's banks. Large scale irrigation projects have displaced millions of poor farmers, and altered the volume, speed and silt load of the river's flow. The river flow is so depleted that the Sundarban wetlands and mangrove forests of Bangladesh are seriously threatened. 
Zambezi - Rising in northwestern Zambia, the Zambezi runs for approximately 3,000 kilometres to the Indian Ocean. It includes Victoria Falls (named after the Queen of England at the time). There are many demands upon the waters of the Zambezi. Hydroelectric power (HEP) is generated from the two largest human-made lakes, Kariba; and Cabora Basa. The National Parks around the river are a large attraction for tourists, which bring in valuable income, but the area needs to retain its wildness and beauty to keep attracting tourists. However domestic and industrial pollution from nearby towns is becoming more of a problem, and dams prevent the river from flushing itself out. Population growth and recent drought have increased the demand for the waters of the Zambezi for agricultural, domestic, and industrial uses. 

Volga - 

The Volga is the longest river in Europe, rising in the Valdai Hills and flowing through western Russia. The river is known in Russian folklore as Mother Volga, and plays a large part in the life of the Russian people. Around half of Russia's population live near the Volga's banks and its tributaries. It is an important trade route, with 900 ports and 5550 industrial docks lining its banks. The river ends in the Caspian sea, near Astrakhan, and is an important source of water for the sea and its famous sturgeon fishery, which produces eggs for caviar. Eight huge complexes combining dams, reservoirs, and hydroelectric facilities operate on the river, converting the free-flowing river to a chain of man-made lakes. It is seriously polluted from industrial wastes and runoff from cities and farmland, because it cannot flush itself out. Irrigation for nearby farmlands has also lowered the Volga's flow and limited its ability to regenerate. Only 3% of water in the whole Volga river basin is safe to drink. 

Jordan - 

Compared to the size of many of the world's major rivers, the Jordan is insignificant - more water flows down the Amazon in one hour than flows down the Jordan in a year. However, it is very important within the Middle East, and is a holy site for Christians, Jews and Muslims. The source of the river is in Jordan, and it is joined by streams from Lebanon and Syria, before entering the Sea of Galillee. The Jordan is under threat of drying up altogether during summer, and reduced to a meagre flow during winter. More than 90% of the river's water is being diverted by Israel, Syria and Jordan. The river is also heavily polluted, and now contains 20% untreated sewage, plus run off from agriculture and industry. Pollution flows into the Dead Sea, which has shrunk by 30% in the last 50 years and is slowly disappearing. If present rates of population growth and agricultural and industrial development continue, within the next 20 to 30 years all of Israel's and Jordan's freshwater will be needed for drinking water demands alone. Agriculture will receive only reclaimed sewage, and industry will have available only costly desalinated seawater.

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