Rivers in Africa, the Wild and Mighty Congo Illustration

The Congo River

Africa's two largest rivers are the Nile and the Congo. The Congo River is the deepest river in the world!

The Nile flows north for about 4,000 miles, though Egypt, and flows into the Mediterranean Sea. The Congo flow west for about 3,000 miles, in the center of Africa through the rain forest, and pours into the Atlantic Ocean. Most rivers, like the Nile River, create a delta of mud and soil that they drop when they enter the sea, that provides wonderful farmland. Not so the Congo. The Congo moves too swiftly to create a delta of good farmland.

The Congo River in Africa is nicknamed "the mighty".  It's a good nickname. It fits the river. The Congo is wild. It twists and wanders across Africa like a snake. Some parts of the Congo are 700 feet deep! In some places, the river is 6 miles wide. In others, it is extremely narrow with wild rapids and waterfalls

The Congo is a dangerous river for travelers. It runs through dense rainforests and thick grasslands. From a boat on the Congo, you can see elephants, crocodiles, monkeys, parrots, flowers, and hippopotamuses. Although there are big barges moving along the river, and big ocean going vessels who can travel a short way up the river to the first falls, most of the river is traveled by small boats or not traveled at all. There are some parts of the Congo that even small boats cannot safely navigate - the rapids and waterfalls are too wild.

The Congo was first discovered by a Portuguese explorer about 550 years ago, who was looking for a short cut through Africa to reach India by boat to avoid going overland. He did not find it, not following the Congo. He did not get very far at all. He was lucky to survive. Since then, there have been many huge projects undertaken to make the Congo more accessible. But it's still a dangerous river.

Huge cities have grow into major urban centers along the banks. There are also tiny villages. For both, the Congo provides an abundance of food. In the villages, men fish from the banks of the Congo. They use long poles with a basket or a net at the end. They dip these poles into the rapids or into the falls to catch fish. They have to hang on very tightly so their poles are not yanked right out of their hands by the power of the water, and themselves with it! In the cities, commercial fishermen use large boats and huge nets.

For those who work and trade along the Congo, the river provides the principal highway for transporting goods like cotton, sugar, coffee, and - of course - fish!

 The Nile flows north and the Congo flows west, but they start in sort of the same area of Africa, and you can see that on this map: One Map of the Congo and Nile for Kids

The Congo may be the deepest, but the Nile River is the longest river in the world

The Congo River - Free Presentations in PowerPoint format