let it flow, let it flow, let it FLOW

38-Nile-River

The ancient and famous mighty river, referred to as “the Father of African Rivers”, that snakes it way through Egypt is a truly phenomenally international river, the life-line to the ancient Egyptian civilizations and still under heated debate today.

SOME FUN FACTS:

  • The Nile River is the longest river in the world
    • The Nile River runs north
      • it is 6853km (4,258miles) long
      • it flows through a quarter of all Africa
        • it touches 11 different countries
          • the Nile Basin covers just less than 3.5 million square kilometers of land
            • Egypt is 96% desert
              • 1545kms of the Nile runs through Egypt
                • only 22% of the river runs through Egypt!

* 80% of Egypt’s water comes from the Blue Nile (Ethiopia)

PRIMARY SOURCES OF THE NILE:

The Nile is fed by 2 main sources:

  • the White Nile (which originates from the Great Lakes in Central Africa)
  • The Blue Nile (from Lake Tana in Ethiopia)

These rivers confluence near Khartoum and then flow upwards to the Mediterranean Sea.

THE CATARACTS:

These are where the normal flow of the river is “disturbed” by rocks, islands and is more shallow than usual and thus difficult to navigate.  There are 6 of these cataracts, only one in Egypt, in Aswan. All of them occur on the “Great Bend” in the Nile, where it seemingly veers off its course before getting back on track and heading towards the Mediterranean again.

THE MOUTH OF THE NILE:

In Egypt, near Cairo, the River divides again into 2 branches:

  • the Rosetta (Rushid) branch (West)
  • the Damietta branch (East)

Between these 2 branches is the area known as:

THE DELTA:

This is the large flat, fertile plains where the flooding river would gently deposit its rich silt before finally entering the Mediterranean. This was the “food basket” of Egypt in days gone by. Half of Egypt’s population lives in the Delta region.

THE ANNUAL FLOODS:

The ancient rhythm of the Nile dictated the life of the ancient Egyptians. Once a year, the farmers left their fields and went to their villages higher up to await the annual flood. This flooding in the Delta region, brought about a large deposit of thick, rich dark silt, mostly from Ethiopia. When the waters had subsided enough, the farmers would come back down to the plains and begin to plant on the lovely moist and rich fields. These annual floods dictated the life and times of the Egyptians

THE ASWAN DAM:

The annual floods stopped in 1969, when the Aswan Hight Dam was being built. This altered the rhythm and life of the people of Egypt. This meant that people could live closer to the Nile, and no longer needed to move for the flood and wait months for the water to recede so they could begin planting. They could now build and live right alongside the nile and farm throughout the year. Many people initially feared the ancient curse that would be incurred should anyone interfere with the natural rhythms of the river, but life has re-established itself along the Nile, with new villages, homes, farms and harvest. But no longer is that thick black rich silt easily deposited on the land.

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