Meet The Largest Delta On Earth Today, And Why It Matters

Written by Dayva Segal
Published: September 30, 2022
© OleksiyGS/
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Before we delve into the largest delta on earth, what exactly is a delta? A delta is a geographic feature that occurs when a river flows into a large body of water, usually an ocean. In some cases, a delta can form where a river meets another river, a lake, an estuary, or even an ancient lake bed. It is formed by either the river or the larger body of water depositing sediment over time. The delta gets its name from the triangular shape it usually takes. Delta is a Greek letter that is shaped like a triangle.

River deltas are important places and have been throughout human history. They are usually very fertile and can support human life through agriculture. Some ancient civilizations, such as Ancient Egypt, were so abundant due to their positioning in a river delta.

What Is the Largest Delta On Earth Today?

The largest river delta on earth today is The Ganges Delta.

Other names for this delta include the Sunderbans Delta and the Bengal Delta. It also has the nickname The Green Delta because it is such a fertile and green place. It is located where the Ganges River meets the Indian Ocean, specifically, The Bay of Bengal.

The delta spans two countries—Bangladesh and India. In India, it is in the state of West Bengal. The delta is so large because it actually is comprised of multiple rivers—The Ganges River, The Brahmaputra River, and The Meghna River.

What Type of Delta Is the Ganges Delta?

The Ganges Delta is an arcuate delta. That means it is shaped like a fan with the fan arcing out into the larger body of water. Another famous example of an arcuate delta is the Nile River Delta. Looking at a map of this delta from above, the fan shape is unmistakable.

Life in the Ganges Delta

Despite flood risks, millions of people live in the Ganges Delta region which spans over 41,000 square miles. Around 140 million people live in the area, and the delta supports around 300 million people total. Not only is this the largest delta on earth, but it is also one of the most densely populated areas of the world with a population density of over 520 people per square mile for most of it.

Over 60% of people in Bangladesh work in the delta area, mostly in agriculture. Abundant crops that grow well in the Ganges Delta in both Bangladesh and India include jute, rice, and tea. Fishing and fish farms are another important resource for the region. Shrimp exports are an important source of income for the region.

The area has many islands in between river branches. Some of these islands are only accessible through ferry boats, and many of them do not yet have electricity infrastructure. However, solar panels have allowed residents of these islands to have some power.

The Ganges Delta has a tropical, wet climate. The eastern side of the delta can receive up to 118 inches of rainfall per year!

The area is prone to flooding from cyclone storms, monsoons, and heavy snowmelt from the Himalayas. Unfortunately, the area holds the Guinness World Record for the deadliest storm. In 1970, the Bhola Cyclone killed at least 500,000 people, but probably more, as 100,000 people were listed as missing.

Ganges Delta Wildlife

There are a few different ecological regions of the Ganges Delta. Most of the region was originally a tropical deciduous forest, but most of that has been cleared for farming. There are also swamp forests closer to the Bay of Bengal, as well as the world’s largest mangrove ecoregion.

The area includes many fearsome predators such as pythons, leopards, and crocodiles. It is also home to Indian elephants. Several endangered and protected species call this area home. There are just over 1,000 Bengal tigers living in the delta area. A river dolphin, called the Ganges River dolphin is an extremely rare sight, as there are only about 3,500 of them left. Abusing one of these dolphins is a crime. In 2017, three men were arrested after being filmed beating a Ganges River dolphin.

The Spiritual Significance of the Ganges River

The Ganges River and its tributaries have a strong spiritual importance in Hindu culture. The river embodies sacredness for people who follow this religion, and Hindu people bathe in the river for rituals. They also carry containers of water back with them to perform rituals at home. The water is considered pure, and people bathe in it to clean away spiritual impurities.

The Ganges is especially important for rituals of death. People travel to the river to submerge their loved one’s ashes in the river. According to Hindu tradition, the river can carry a person’s soul back to heaven.

The Ganges River at sunset
The Ganges River at sunset is bathed in golden light.

©Jono Photography/

The Future of the Largest Delta On Earth

The Ganges Delta, the largest delta on earth, is at risk due to climate change. Rising sea levels may change the area as we know it today. Globally, the average sea-level rise per year is around 0.12 inches. However, in areas of this delta, as much as 1 inch per year has been seen.

Experts believe this is due to the extraction of groundwater speeding up the natural sinking quality of the delta, along with the natural sea-level rise caused by climate change. Some people estimate that by the year 2100, Bangladesh could stand to lose about a quarter of its land mass due to sea-level rise. This could affect this important food-producing region, affecting the world’s food supplies.

According to climate scientists, a significant reduction of emissions in the very near future could reduce the expected sea-level rise over the next hundred years, however, an effect would still be felt. Though, it would not be as severe.

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Mangroves in the largest delta on earth, Ganges Delta, in India.
© OleksiyGS/

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer who has been working in the field of content creation and digital marketing for more than seven years. My favorite topics to write about include health, animals, fitness, and nutrition, though as a professional content provider and ghostwriter, I can easily write about pretty much anything! I love all animals and have been some form of vegetarian or vegan for over 10 years. My favorite animals are cats, dogs, and chickens, especially my own cat, Tula.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the largest river delta on earth today?

The largest river delta on earth today is The Ganges Delta.

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