From stunning views to some of the richest ecosystems on the planet, rivers are an important geographical feature that bring life to numerous corners of the globe. Among a complex system of international waterways, the longest rivers in the world are in many ways the most noteworthy—but some items on this list may surprise you. Whether you’re plotting your next overseas getaway or simply looking to feed your wanderlust, this list of the 10 longest rivers in the world should help you get started.
10. The Amur/Heilong Jiang (2763 miles long)
Extending along the border between northeastern China and Russia, the Amur River (also known as the Heilong Jiang) is the tenth longest river in the world. While the word amur is thought to originate from a term for “water,” the Chinese heilong jiang translates to "black dragon river."
9. The Congo (2922 miles long)
Previously known as the Zaire River, the Congo stretches in a curve across the continent of Africa and has the distinction of being the only river to cross the equator twice. It's also the deepest river on earth, with depths of over 700 feet in some places.
8. The Paraná (3030 miles long)
Located in South America, the Paraná River is one of the longest rivers in the world and the second largest on the continent. Its name is an abbreviation of the Tupi expression para rehe onáva, which translates to "like the sea."
7. The Ob-Irtysh (3364 miles long)
The Ob-Irtysh, also known as the Ob River, represents one of the three great Siberian rivers, along with the Yenisei and the Lena. It extends from the Altay Mountains and flows into the Arctic Ocean.
6. The Yellow River/Huang He (3395 miles long)
Called the Yellow River for its color—the result of huge amounts of loess sediment in the water—this massive river is also known as the Huang He. Its basin is considered to be the birthplace of ancient Chinese civilization, and it still holds great value for the country, both practically and symbolically.
5. The Yenisei (3445 miles long)
The Yenisei River is the fourth longest river in the world and one of the most scenic. It originates in Mongolia, after which it winds through Siberia and flows north to the Arctic Ocean.
4. The Mississippi (3902 miles long)
Remarkably, the four longest rivers in the world belong to four separate continents. As the fourth largest, the Mississippi River is contained not only within North America but entirely within the United States, although its drainage basin extends into Canadian territory.
3. The Yangtze/Chang Jiang (3917 miles long)
Extending to the East China Sea at Shanghai from its origin in the Tibetan Plateau, the Yangtze River (also known as the Chang Jiang) is the third longest river in the world and the longest river in Asia.
2. The Amazon (4195 miles long)
If you're thinking that 4195 is a larger number than 4160, you're not alone—there's some debate as to whether the Amazon or the Nile deserves the title, although the Guinness World Record belongs to the latter. This is because of how the South American mega-river is defined, and whether the Pará River is technically included. In either case, the Amazon River claims the honor of being the largest river in terms of water volume, far surpassing the Nile.
1. The Nile (4160 miles long)
Winding its way across northeastern Africa, the Nile is considered to be the longest river in the world. Though many people first associate it with Egypt, it also cuts through Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Burundi, Sudan, and South Sudan.
Up next, see what makes the list of the 10 highest mountains in the world.