Things You Should Know About the Nile River

The word "Nile" is a Greek word for river valley. In the ancient Kemet language, the language of the original people of the region now called Egypt, the river was called Ḥ'pī or iteru, meaning "great river" and was represented by the hieroglyphs shown at left, which literally means 'itrw' or 'waters' determinative.

The Nile is one of the most densely populated areas on the face of the earth with more than 370 million people depending on its water. The Nile River in East Africa is more than 5 miles wide and 4,175 miles long and is thought to be about 30 million years old.  The waterway now runs through Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. 

Map of Nile
The Nile River flows away from the equator, from south to north. In the West, Lake Victoria was historically thought to be the source of the Nile. This was based on the 1864 expedition records of Englishman John Henry Speak. It was later discovered that the source of the Nile lies further South, within the forests of Rwanda. It has also been asserted that the Atbarah River, located in the eastern portion of Sudan, is the original source of the Nile -- its last tributary before it reaches the Mediterranean Sea.

The Nile has two large tributaries: the White Nile and Blue Nile. The White Nile is longer than the Blue Nile. It is located south of Lake Victoria and derives its name from its light grey color that comes from its sediment deposits. The White Nile is subject to wild fluctuations and raises up to 20 feet at its highest point. Historical patterns have been that May is the rise of the river and around October the river falls. Ancient Kemet people captured all the water they needed from its overflow for each year's annual crops.

The Blue Nile has its origins at Ethiopia's Lake Tana. Out of Lake Tana, the Blue Nile flows southeast into the Sudan where it meets again with the White Nile near Khartoum, Sudan. The Blue Nile provides about two-thirds of the Nile River's water. It derives its name from the dark blue color that it takes on as it moves through the Sudan.


After the Nile exists Lake Victoria it is called the Victoria Nile. A monument marks where it rises outside of Jinja, Uganda. The river flows into Lake Albert opposite the Blue Mountains in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When the Nile exits through Lake Albert it becomes the Albert Nile.

The Nile River connects the countries it runs through geopolitically. This is due to national interest in controlling water use through dam systems. The most dominant national actors in Nile water control are Egypt and Sudan. Egypt has historically been the biggest player in blocking the flow of the Nile into neighboring countries. The Nile River Basin only makes up five percent of Egypt's land mass, but ninety-five percent of the population lives along the Nile.

1 comment:

  1. Langston Hughes poem possess a rare essence for the tale of two rivers or twin rivers of the indigenous people of the Kemet Nations. "The Negro Speaks of River" has its place in the Fascination of who we were before and after enslavers institutionalized the Great Betrayal of African Nations and their descendants. Yet our fierce perseverance and lasting success ascends beyond everyone's expectations. "The First Shall be last and the Last Shall be first. Either way we will come out on top, no doubt about it.


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