Top 10 Most Powerful Rivers in the World

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When you think of a river, the last thing you think about is probably how strong its water really is. You are more than likely to think about calm flowing water that brushes over stones at the bottom of the river. Maybe you envision small fish in the river. Whatever you think about, it’s definitely not how powerful the river is.

If you’re one of those people that are fascinated by random yet helpful bits of information, then this top-ten list is for you. Here are the top ten most powerful rivers in the world. This list is based upon the flow rate of the river itself.

10. Mekong River

The Mekong River is located in China. It runs through Burma, Thailand, Yunnan, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. The Mekong is the 11th longest river in the world and the 7th longest in Asia. The river is said to be about 2,703 miles long. Because of the seasonal changes that cause variations in flow as well as the appearance of rapids and waterfalls in the river, the Mekong is extremely difficult to navigate. This river so strong that the level of the river located in Cambodia is lower than the high tide at sea! In 2000, the river’s rapids and tides became so overwhelming that it flooded, killing about 90 people.

9. Lena River

Flowing through Eastern Siberia, the Lena River is the 10th longest river in the world, bringing water 2,734 miles until it flows into the Sea. The river flows northeast and joins with two other rivers and finally flows into the Laptev Sea. The river is known to have strong links to stream flow, especially during the summer and spring when the water is much warmer than usual. Once it is spring, the ice on the Lena River melts before the ice downstream does, which usually causes flooding because ice blocks hinder the flow of water. In 2007, the river over-flooded and more than 1,000 houses and 12 towns were under water.

8. Parana River

The Parana River is the 14th longest river in the world. Though most of the river is located in Brazil, it also runs through other parts of South America such as Argentina and Paraguay. The river is about 2,485 miles long and flows into three other rivers. On the southern part of the river, flooding is extremely common. The strong currents that the Parana brings have been said to erode river shores, destroy buildings, and cause many people to have to move out of their homes. The high winds and the El-Nino effect also play big roles in how powerful the river is.

7. Yenisey River

The Yenisey River is the biggest river that flows into the Arctic Ocean. At 3,445 miles long, the river is the 5th largest in the world. The river flows through Mongolia, the Yenisei Gulf, and then drains in the center of Siberia. The upper part of the river is subject to floods a swell as rapids. Because part of the river exits through the Darkhad Valley, studies have shown that it is often blocked by ice. Once the glaciers retreat, it is said that as much as 500km ³ of water could escape from the river and cause a complete debacle.

6. Mississippi River

The Mississippi River is the only river in the U.S. to make the list! The Mississippi River is the second largest in the U.S. It expands across 2,340 miles of land. It starts at Lake Itasca in Minnesota and travels all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. Those who live along the banks of the river often have to fear its high tides and extremely powerful waters. Many of the levees that have been built to hold back the water have proven extremely unhelpful. In 2008, many were afraid that the river would over-flood even more than it already had. The water was topping levees and many had to be evacuated from their homes.

5. Brahmaputra River

The Brahmaputra River is located in Bahaduradbad, Bangladesh. It starts in southwestern Tibet, goes through the Himalayas, the Assam Valley, and then through Bangladesh. The Brahmaputra River is about 1,800 miles long and is mostly used for transportation as well as irrigation. While most of this river is navigable, some parts are prone to catastrophic flooding in the spring once the snow of the Himalayans melt. This river is also one of the few that is known to have something called a tidal bare. This means that incoming tides form waves that travel up the river against the direction of the current. This is what researchers call a true tidal wave. This makes the Brahmaputra River that much stronger.

4. Yangtze River

The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia as well as in China. It is the 3rd largest river in the world. The river stretches to about 3,964 miles and flows through East China Sea in Shanghai. The Yangtze River is known for its flooding, and dams that have been built to prevent water from flowing outside of the river’s banks have proven to be useless. Researchers have realized that the river actually has three different types of floods and that its tides are much too strong during some seasons to prevent water from overflowing. Many use the river for electricity and water transport, but they often, if not always have to live in the fear of their towns being flooded.

3. Orinoco River

The Orinoco River is one of the longest in South America. In fact, it is the 3rd longest in South America. The river is 1,330 miles long and flows through Colombia and Venezuela. It begins at the Delgago Chalbaud Mountain. Once the river passes the forested terrain and waterfalls, it slows. However, the waterfalls become rapids which have proven to be extremely difficult to navigate, even though during this time the river is downstream. Eventually the river dumps into the Atlantic Ocean. The river also experiences coastal upwelling year-round, which often poses a threat for those who live close to the river.

2. Congo River

You might know the Congo River as the Zaire River. Whichever name you are familiar with, this river is the largest river in Western Central Africa. At 2,922 miles, the Congo River is the second longest river in Africa. This river is also Africa’s most powerful river. Even though the Congo starts off as a peaceful river, especially near Lake Tanganyika, it eventually begins to widen and also picks up speed during this time. Eventually the water passes through the “Gates of Hell,” which is a 75-mile long canyon that presents rapids that are impassable. At the Upper Congo, the river ends, but has a 60 mile stretch of rapids that make it dangerous and powerful.

1. Amazon River

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The Amazon River is the largest river in the world when looking at its volume. It is located in South America, and because it is so large, it can count for at least 1/5 of the world’s complete river flow. This river is so powerful and so big that there aren’t any points along the river that can be crossed by a bridge. The river has an extremely powerful discharge at the mouth which can release as much as eight trillion gallons of water each day. The river is said to be about 150 ft. deep, so if you’re thinking about going for a swim in the Amazon, think again!


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24 Comments

  1. I think that brahmaptra is the world best river cause its natural beauty is outstanding if u don't see it then u can't bealive it. I saw its beauty thats why i toll about its self.

  2. The waters of the Parana River is also the main power for the Itaipu Hydroelectric Plant, currently the biggest hydroelectric plant in the world.

  3. Paulo Portugal on

    The wave that you saw in Amazonas is the Pororoca Wave and happens one time for year and was caused by the moon…

  4. Hi – I am an Instructional Technology Specialist and am creating a project for our fourth graders on the great explorers. Could I please have your permission to link to the picture of the Mississippi?

    Thanks!

  5. "if you’re thinking about going for a swim in the Amazon, think again!"¨

    Why don't you tell that to Martin Strel a 52 year old who spent 66 days swimming the entire amazon.

    Some of his other endeavours were the Missisipi, The Yahtze river etc..

  6. After descending from the Andes, the Amazon River is joined by the waters of over 1100 tributaries until it becomes a liquid mass of unimaginable proportions. Stretching for 6762 km, it is the longest and widest river, with the greatest volume of water in the world. In Peru, it drains some 956 751 km2 and close to 900 species of fish have been identified in its waters. To see pictures of the Amazon River and the Pacaya Samiria Reserve you must visit http://www.yesperu.com/En/PacayaSamiria.aspx

  7. Interesting, but engineering ability is not the reason that a bridge cannot be built to cross the Amazon. There simply isn’t the economic need for one. And why would depth be a reason to not swim in a body of water?

  8. Hello, I really enjoyed reading all the information about the rivers of the world, someday I would like to be able to travel and see some of them. Siberia has always called me for an adventure. I only have one question though. What about the Piscataqua river along the banks of Maine and New Hampshire, USA. I aways thought that its currents were the second strongest in the world ? Thank you, Brad

  9. Where did you get this information from? You said that the Mississippi is the second longest in the USA? The Mississippi is 3710 miles long, not 2340. It is also the third longest river in the world after only the Nile and the Amazon. So, based on your post, what river in the US is longer than the Mississippi?

    • Source is http://www.nps.gov/miss/riverfacts.htm, which states, “…there are competing claims as to the Mississippi’s length. The staff of Itasca State Park at the Mississippi’s headwaters say the river is 2,552 miles long. The US Geologic Survey has published a number of 2,300 miles, the EPA says it is 2,320 miles long, and the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area suggests the river’s length is 2,350 miles.” It seems no one can agree.

      The Missouri river is listed as being 2,540 miles long. So it depends who you ask, I guess. We can agree though that the Mississippi is one of the top 10 most powerful and useful rivers in the world, yes?

  10. 5. Brahmaputra River
    How can you say that it is situated in Faridabad of Bangladesh when the fact is that it is flowing through 3 countries, Tibbet, India and Bangladesh.
    It has several names not just Brahmaputra River. Like, in Tibbet it is named as Tsangpo, entering India, in Arunachal Pradesh (A state of India) it is named as Dihong, IN Assam (Another state of India) it is called Brahmaputra (means the Son of God Brahma), in Bangladesh it is named as Yamuna and after merging with Ganga, it is named as Padma.

    Over all a nice story to read. Thanks for sharing.
    Santanu

  11. Length or width are not measures of what makes a river “powerful”. It is the rate of flow.

    Most of the rivers listed above are very wide with very sluggish water flow.

    The most ‘powerful’ river in the world is probably the Niagara.

    • Steve Mitchell on

      Just before the Drop, known as Niagara Falls, the river is said to be about 4 feet deep, and the current at least 35 miles per hour. Thus swimming is banned nearby — too dangerous.

      However, approximately 100 years ago, the Niagara River actually dried up during a long drought. So it can’t be that powerful, except at the Falls.

      My home is on the St. Marys River, connecting Lake Superior to Lake Huron. The upper 4 Great Lakes are drained by the Niagara, as we all know. However the flow past my home is very very slow, and actually we have a small daily fluctuation in water levels, with a major seasonal high water level, and low water level. Again, if the Niagara was as powerful as we seem to think, my beachfront would have a much faster current, even though I’m hundreds of miles upstream. It is said that the water in the St. Marys takes 3 full days to arrive at Niagara Falls. So the powerful flow at the Falls is very deceiving to us.

      • Yes, I probably should have noted that the Niagara may once have been the most powerful flowing river, except that its flow has been largely diverted. The current rate at the falls is about one fourth of the natural flow. This has been done to reduce the rate of erosion. The Niagara Falls could cease to exist within a very short geological period (only a few hundred years) if it weren’t for the diversion. I suppose that within the context of this article, the Niagara can no longer be considered the most powerful flowing river in the world, because its flow has been reduced by human intervention to save the Niagara Falls from extinction.

  12. What about the Zambezi in Mozambique, Zambia & Zimbabwe? Had read somewhere that with its crazy rapids, biggest Victoria Falls waterfall in the world, it’s the most powerful in the world.

    Also no rivers from Europe & Australia could make your list, huh?

  13. Pius N Mwita on

    I was watching Video on your TOPTENZ Rivers and they are very interesting.
    I really like them. I would like to know how much the price and how can
    I buy them from. Please kindly let me know.
    P.N.Mwita

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