5 Facts About The Congo River (with Map & Photos)

The “No Cold” continent, as the ancient Greeks called Africa, ranks second in size after Eurasia and is home to full-flowing and deep rivers on Earth. One of them was the water artery flowing in the heart of Africa - the Congo River. She has acquired many honorary titles:

  • The deepest river in the world (up to 230 meters).
  • The most full-flowing after the Amazon.
  • The longest river on the continent after the Nile.
  • The only stream in the world that crosses the equator twice.

The pioneer of the famous river in the 15th century was the explorer of the “black continent” Diogo Can, a native of Portugal.

Geographic Description

Congo River
Congo River

The river flows through the Central part of Africa and spills over the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and forms a miraculous border between the republic and Angola.

Data on the origins of the Congo is ambiguous. Today there are two options for the origin of the river:

  1. The reference point is the waters of the Chambezi River between the lakes Nyasa and Tanganyika at a height of one and a half thousandth.
  2. The source of the Congo is the Lualaba River, which originates on the eastern plateau of the Republic of the Congo.

For more than 4,700 km, the river makes its way through mountains and plateaus before reaching the Atlantic Ocean. The current of the Congo is usually divided into upper, middle and lower:

  • In the upper reaches of the Congo, water rushes violently through tight crevices, forming waterfalls and busts.
  • On the flat part of Africa, the water flow overflows and creates a wide valley with many lakes and channels.
  • The South Guinea Upland slows down the path of the river in the lower reaches, enclosing a turbulent stream in a gorge no more than 220 m wide and about 230 m deep. This circumstance determines the special characteristic of the river as the deepest on the planet. Here, on the threshold of a height of 270 meters, there is a fall of the water flow, known to the whole world - it is called the Livingston Falls. Seventy drops and waterfalls adorn the landscape in this section of the stream.

The deep river flows into the Atlantic Ocean near the village of Banana and forms a flooded mouth - an estuary, expanding to 11 km. The current of the Congo in oceanic waters is felt 17 km from the junction of fresh and salty elements.

The most significant tributaries of the Congo River are:

Right: a tributary of the Congo - Aruvim, Ubangi, Sanga.
Left: Lulonga, Ruki, Kasai, Lomami.

Congo River
Congo River

Characteristics of the Congo River in numbers

The deepest river in the world has a strong temper and expresses the amazing power and beauty of the world. The digital information about its geographical parameters is impressive and paints a more complete picture of the Congo:

  • The total length of water flows is 4700 km, and taking into account the tributaries of the river - twenty thousand kilometers, which is equal to half the circumference of the Earth.
  • The river carries 42,450 cubic meters of water per second into the ocean, second only to the Amazon.
  • The discharge of water at the mouth is from 23,000 to 75,000 m³/sec, and the average annual flow is 1450 km³.
  • The saturation of the river with water is kept at one level throughout the year, due to successive rainy seasons. Congo ranks second in the world after its South American sister in terms of basin area - 3,680,000 km².
  • Congo is not only the deepest river in the world, but also one of the widest - the distance from one bank to another is 15 kilometers.
  • The Congo River has great potential for hydropower. The energy reserve is estimated at 390 GW, an impressive figure that could overshadow the generation of electricity, for example, in Russia in 2007.
  • Every day, several thousand cargo ships pass along the river; a complex branched system provides settlements with everything necessary. The length of shipping routes is about twenty thousand kilometers.

The shipping system includes the entire river basin, making up its branched structure. The total length of the tracks is more than 20 thousand kilometers. Thousands of transport ships pass through the shipping lanes every day.

Fauna and flora of the Congo River

Congo River
Congo River

The long waterway of Central Africa amazes with the magnificence and diversity of fauna and flora: its shores are covered with tropical jungles, in which more than 600 species of trees grow and more than ten thousand classes of animals live.

Despite the mass extermination of animals on the African continent, the fauna of the Congo Basin pleases with many species of wild animals:

  • Primates are gorillas and other species.
  • Felines - leopards.
  • Proboscis - elephants.
  • Bovids - buffaloes.

Variety of birds and reptiles, especially reptiles. Crocodiles live in the warm waters of the Congo.

The Blue Highway of Africa is famous for its unique fishing due to the fact that its character changes along the way: at the beginning it is shallow and narrow, then it is stormy and swift, below it is the formation of lakes and a slowly flowing stream.

The water temperature reaches thirty degrees Celsius, which contributes to the development of a large number of river microorganisms, which are excellent food for fish.

Here you can catch catfish, mormyrops, Nile perch, but most of all, fishermen strive to pull a unique fish out of the water - the tiger Goliath. The Latin name characterizes this creature best of all - a giant water dog with sharp fangs, up to one and a half meters in size and weighing up to seventy kilograms. This "dog" is distinguished by beautiful iridescent silver-gold scales. Its meat tastes similar, according to fishermen, to pike perch.

Congo River
Congo River

The vegetation of the Congo forms a powerful block of multi-tiered rainforests with a tree canopy of about 35 meters, with tower trees reaching 60 m. They do not shed their leaves, but are characterized by the presence of an evergreen crown. The jungles of the Congo are called the "lungs of the planet." The main large trees amaze with their power, unusualness and exotic beauty:

  • Entandophragma of the Meliyev family is a tall plant with a powerful thick trunk and a crown that looks like a flat roof.
  • Guarei or mahogany, characterized by a rare beauty of wood.
  • Marantes naked from the Chrysobalan family with fruits hanging in clusters.
  • Legumes - bicolor parkia and others.

The marshy, flooded areas are dominated by herbaceous vegetation, the most numerous of which is papyrus.

The dry sandy valleys of the Congo River are covered with thickets of stunted trees and grasses.

Congo river on a map of Africa

The map of Africa shows the path that the Congo River makes through the expanses of the equatorial part of the continent: from the East African Plateau to the Atlantic Ocean.

  • Thanks to a smooth bend in the central part, it crosses the equator twice, which distinguishes it from all the rivers of the world.
  • The river became the natural border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with the country of the Congo.
  • The largest tributary of the Congo - Ubangi continues to delimit African states. It draws the border zone of the DRC and the Congo, as well as the Central African Republic.

Questions of the ecological state of the Congo River

The deterioration of the ecological situation in the river basin is explained by several circumstances:

  • Congo is a transport highway that establishes communication between countries and cities of the "black continent".
  • Use of the resources of the greatest water flow in the economic development of Africa.
  • The largest river in the world allows the development of hydropower in the mainland countries: forty hydroelectric power stations have been built.
  • Plants and factories for the processing of minerals developed on the shores of the Congo: silver, nickel, uranium, copper ore, cobalt and others.
  • Settlements along the water stream.
  • Kisangani metropolis with a million inhabitants and the largest river port.

Congo River
Congo River

The ecological state of the Congo is due to several directions:

  • Pollution of water and adjacent natural areas with household and chemical waste from numerous processing plants.
  • The extermination of river inhabitants due to poaching and poisoning with emissions from enterprises.
  • The emergence of swamps in some parts of the river space.
  • The destruction of the soil layer and the loss of soil fertility due to deforestation and the transition of man to new places.