The Nile River


It's the longest river on Earth.

The Nile flows north for about 6,650 kilometers (4,132 miles), from the African Great Lakes through the Sahara desert before emptying into the Mediterranean Sea. 


It goes through 11 countries 

Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt — and drains  


There's more than one Nile.

The Nile has three main tributaries: the White Nile, Blue Nile and Atbara. The White Nile is the longest, starting with streams that flow into Lake Victoria   


People spent centuries searching for its source

Ancient Egyptians revered the Nile as their source of life, but it was inevitably shrouded in mystery. It would be for centuries, too, as expeditions repeatedly failed to find its source  


It takes a strange detour in the desert

After stubbornly pushing north for most of its course, the Nile takes a surprising turn in the midst of the Sahara.  


Its mud helped shape human history

This contrast is visible from space, where a long, green oasis can be seen hugging the river amid the bleakly tan landscape around it. 


It's a haven for wildlife, too

One of the most notable Nile plants is papyrus, an aquatic flowering sedge that grows as tall reeds in shallow water. 


It was home to a crocodile god and a Crocodile City

The reverence for Nile crocodiles was particularly strong in the ancient city of Shedet (now called Faiyum), located in the river's Faiyum Oasis south of Cairo. 


It may be a window to the real underworld

The Nile was seen as a gateway to the afterlife, with the eastern side representing life and the western side considered the land of the dead. 


It's changing

The dam has also changed the Nile in negative ways, however. The black silt that tamed the Sahara, for example, is now largely impounded behind the dam 

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