10 Famous Rivers You Need to Know

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: August 16, 2022
Image Credit Akitzhaber/Shutterstock.com
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Rivers are very important bodies of water that help humans in many different ways. Humans built along riverbanks for access to transportation and freshwater. We also use them as boundaries between nations and to bring in the bounty of waters for food. However, some rivers are more well-known than others. We’re going to take a look at 10 famous rivers you need to know and why you should know them in this article.

While we can’t cover every famous river, you may just learn something by reading about the rivers we have listed!

The 10 Famous Rivers Everyone Should Know

Amazon River with Capybaras
Rivers can become famous for many reasons

RPBaiao/Shutterstock.com

We’ve come up with a list of 10 rivers that you may already know about, but we’re going to spend some time telling you why they’re so important. Some of these rivers are better known in different countries than others. You’ll probably see at least one river you didn’t know about.

We are presenting these famous rivers in no particular order. Of course, these are not the only famous rivers in the world. Without further ado, here are 10 famous rivers that you need to know about!

10. Danube River

The Danube River flows through many important areas of Europe

iStock.com/Sergey_Fedoskin

Danube River
Length 1,771 miles
LocationCentral-Eastern Europe
Claim to FameFlowing through famous cities and trade routes

The Danube River is interesting because of its impact on trade in Europe. As the second-longest river in Europe, the river stretches through major cities like Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava, and Belgrade, and it also includes many other cities in its basin area.

A lot of people tend to ignore Central and Eastern Europe when talking about important waters and areas of trade, but the Danube flows through a lot of places where industry happens.

This river has been valuable for trade and soldier transport since the time of the Romans and even before then. Yet, the river is still significant for trade and well-known for having many famous cities on its banks.

9. Euphrates River

Euphrates River
The Euphrates has been called the “Cradle of Civilization”

Sadik Yalcin/Shutterstock.com

Euphrates River
Length 1,740 miles
LocationTurkey, Iraq, Syria
Claim to FameOne of two rivers that supplied Mesopotamia with water

The Euphrates River’s greatest claim to fame is that it helped supply Mesopotamia with water. Mesopotamia was one of the first true civilizations of the ancient world. Mesopotamia is known for its advances in agriculture, social development, and inventions. Without this valuable water supply, human history would have been very different.  

8. Tigris River

Tigris River
The Tigris River runs through Turkey, Syria, and Iraq

Sanatkar/Shutterstock.com

Tigris River
Length 1,200 miles
LocationTurkey, Syria, Iraq
Claim to FameOne of two rivers that supplied Mesopotamia with water

The other part of the river system that allowed Mesopotamia to rise was the Tigris River. This river is farther north than the Euphrates. The Tigris River, along with the Euphrates, was also significant for religious and mythological reasons. This river is currently known for flowing through Baghdad, the capital of Iraq.

7. Delaware River

Upper Delaware Scenic And Recreational River
The Delaware River divides New Jersey and Pennsylvania

vm2002/Shutterstock.com

Delaware River
Length 301 miles
LocationUnited States
Claim to FameSite of George Washington’s crossing and victory over Hessians during the Revolutionary War

The Delaware River proves that a body of water doesn’t have to be massive to be important. This river was the site of an important moment in the Revolutionary War. George Washington was leading the Continental Army at a time when morale was wavering. He was badly in need of a victory.

Starting on Christmas night in 1776, Washington crossed the Delaware River from Pennsylvania into New Jersey to launch a sneak attack on Hessian mercenaries in Trenton. The attack worked and helped to improve the morale of the soldiers before the army had to settle in for the winter.

6. Yangtze River

The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia

iStock.com/martinhosmart

Yangtze River
Length 3,900 miles
LocationChina
Claim to FameHome to the Three Gorges Dam, Length, significance to China

The Yangtze River is arguably the most important one in all of China. This river’s massive basin helps supply water for agriculture throughout a large portion of the country. Moreover, this is the third-longest river in the entire world as well as the longest in China.

Not only is this river incredibly helpful for agriculture, but it’s also home to the Three Gorges Dam. This is the largest hydroelectric power-generating dam in the entire world, and it has held that title for over a decade. Needless to say, the Yangtze River is very significant and deserving of its fame.

5. Ganges River

Ganges river
The Ganges River is important for cultural and economic reasons

Marcos del Mazo/Shutterstock.com

Ganges River
Length 1,560 miles
LocationIndia
Claim to FameWater supply for millions near the river, religious and cultural significance

Although it is not the largest river in Asia, the Ganges is still very important and well-known. This river has religious and cultural significance to Hindu people. Also, the river supplies water for those in its basin, providing millions of people with water needed for agriculture.

There are nearly 150 species of fish living in the Ganges River today. Check out the largest fish of the Ganges River. There are also other animals that live in and around the Ganges River, like snakes and other reptiles.

4. Mississippi River

Mississippi River
The Mississippi River nearly flows from the top to the bottom of the United States

Milen Mkv/Shutterstock.com

Mississippi River
Length2,340 miles
LocationUnited States
Claim to FameVast length, transportation, damaging floods

The Mighty Mississippi, Old Man River, the Father of Waters. The Mississippi River goes by a lot of names in the United States. This river is most famous for providing water for millions of people that live in towns and cities along its banks.

Cities like Baton Rouge, New Orleans, St. Louis, and Memphis are all connected by this waterway. Many of them also benefit from the hydroelectric power that is generated along the river.  

Of course, the Mississippi River is also famous for its propensity to flood. While this has a replenishing effect on the farmlands, it’s devastating to the human settlements. Counting its tributaries like the Missouri River, the total system length of the Mississippi extends past 3,700 miles by some measurements.

3. Finke River

Oldest Rivers - Finke River
The Finke River is the oldest in the world

Keitma/Shutterstock.com

Finke River
Length373 miles
LocationAustralia
Claim to FameThe oldest river in the world

You may not have ever heard of the Finke River in Australia. It’s not very long and it doesn’t even flow all the time. However, geologists have recognized this as the oldest river in the world. That’s this river’s entire claim to fame!

2. Nile River

The Nile River flows through Sudan and Egypt

Feroze Edassery/Shutterstock.com

Nile River
Length 4,132 miles
LocationSudan, Egypt
Claim to FameThe longest river in the world and supports both Ancient and Modern Egypt

The Nile River is the largest river in the world, and it’s known for being the lifeblood of Ancient Egypt as well as being incredibly important to Egypt today. This river is famous because it was an instrumental body of water for the dynasties of Ancient Egypt. Also, the Nile River is significant for agriculture, transportation, and drinking water.

1. Amazon River

Some scientists argue that the Amazon River is longer than the Nile River

Alexandr Vorobev/Shutterstock.com

Amazon River
Length 3,977 miles
LocationPeru, Colombia, Brazil
Claim to FameThe second-longest river, incredible biodiversity, high discharge into the ocean, and having no bridges crossing its width

The Amazon River is the second-longest river in the world, but it makes up for that placing in other ways. The Amazon River has the largest discharge of any river in the world, measuring up to 209,000m3/s! The second river, the Congo River, discharges a fifth of that!

The Amazon River is also well-known for having no bridges crossing it despite being deep enough for boats to travel as far inland as Peru. This river supports incredibly diverse wildlife throughout its run, plants and animals alike. The Amazon River is facing ecological shifts like many others throughout the world.

The world is packed with interesting and important rivers. The 10 famous rivers that we have explored here are certainly worth knowing about. Some of them are still significant to civilization today, and others only earned their fame for a short time. Still, all of them have interesting history and stories surrounding them.

Hudson River Valley
Hudson River Valley
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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 with degrees in English and Education. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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