The Nile River has provided fertile land, transportation, food, and freshwater to Egypt for more than 5,000 years. Today, 95% of Egypt’s population continues to live along its banks.
 
Where does the Nile begin? Where does it end? Watch this video, from Nat Geo WILD’s “Destination Wild” series, to find out. For an even deeper look at the Nile, use our vocabulary list and explore our “geo-tour” of the Nile to understand the geography of the river and answer the questions in the Questions tab. 
  1. Where is the source, or headwaters, of the Nile River?

    • Answer

      The streams of Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest are probably the most remote sources of the Nile.


      The snow-capped peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains are another one of the remote sources of the Nile. The Rwenzori Mountains, sometimes nicknamed the “Mountains of the Moon,” straddle the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.


      Many geographers also consider Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa, to be a source of the Nile. The most significant outflow from Lake Victoria, winding northward through Uganda, is called the “Victoria Nile.”

  2. Can you find a waterfall on the Nile River?

    • Answer

      As it twists more than 6,500 kilometers (4,200 miles) through Africa, the Nile has dozens of small and large waterfalls. The most significant waterfall on the Nile is probably Murchison Falls, Uganda. Here, the Victoria Nile plunges 43 meters (141 feet) through a narrow gap into Lake Albert. The north-flowing stream is then called the Albert Nile.

  3. What types of wetlands do you think the Nile supports?

    • Answer

      The Nile supports freshwater marshes and swamps as it winds its way north, and brackish wetlands near its delta on the Mediterranean Sea. The largest wetland area on the Nile is the Sudd, a shallow, marshy flood plain in South Sudan.

  4. Can you identify a tributary of the Nile River?

    • Answer

      The two main tributaries of the Nile are the White Nile and the Blue Nile. The White Nile can be traced from Lake Victoria. The Blue Nile drains Lake Tana, in the Ethiopian highlands.

  5. Where is a major confluence on the Nile?

    • Answer

      The confluence of the Blue and White Nile rivers in Khartoum, Sudan, is the most significant confluence on the Nile.

  6. Are there rapids on the Nile?

    • Answer

      Yes, the Nile’s most significant rapids are the six “Cataracts of the Nile.” The Cataracts of the Nile are a long, shallow stretch of the river between Khartoum, Sudan, and Aswan, Egypt.

  7. Is there a dam on the Nile? Where?

    • Answer

      The most massive dam on the Nile is the Aswan Dam, constructed by Egypt in the 1960s. The Aswan Dam created Lake Nasser, an enormous reservoir that is one of the largest manmade lakes in the world.

  8. How has the Nile’s flood plain influenced agriculture in the region?

    • Answer

      Floods carry sediment rich in nutrients. The predictable flooding of the Nile River has made its banks the center of Egyptian agriculture for thousands of years.

  9. Can you identify a major port on the Nile River?

    • Answer

      The port of Alexandria has been Egypt’s most important port for more than 2,000 years. Through the Nile, the port links the interior of Africa with the Mediterranean Sea.

  10. What is one theory about how the Nile delta got its name?

    • Answer

      The Nile delta may have been named by ancient Greek geographers after its triangle shape—which resembles the Greek letter delta (Δ). 

  11. What is the “Nile fan”?

    • Answer

      The Nile fan is an enormous, underwater alluvial fan formed at the river’s mouth. The Nile fan began forming more than a million years ago, as the Nile began to deposit sediment and silt at its end. Today, the Nile fan covers an area of about 70,000 square kilometers (27,027 square miles).

Noun

the art and science of cultivating land for growing crops (farming) or raising livestock (ranching).

Noun

fan-shaped deposit of eroded material, usually sediment and sand.

bank
Noun

a slope of land adjoining a body of water, or a large elevated area of the sea floor.

brackish water
Noun

salty water, usually a mixture of seawater and freshwater.

cataract
Noun

waterfall or section of whitewater rapids.

confluence
Noun

place where two rivers join and flow together.

dam
Noun

structure built across a river or other waterway to control the flow of water.

Noun

the flat, low-lying plain that sometimes forms at the mouth of a river from deposits of sediments.

Noun

overflow of a body of water onto land.

Noun

flat area alongside a stream or river that is subject to flooding.

freshwater marsh
Noun

wetland ecosystem dominated by grasses that develops around lakes or rivers.

Noun

steep-sided opening through a mountain ridge.

headwater
Noun

source of a river.

highlands
Plural Noun

plateau or elevated region of land.

Noun

body of water surrounded by land.

mountain
Noun

landmass that forms as tectonic plates interact with each other.

Noun

place where a river empties its water. Usually rivers enter another body of water at their mouths.

Noun

substance an organism needs for energy, growth, and life.

Noun

place on a body of water where ships can tie up or dock and load and unload cargo.

Noun

areas of fast-flowing water in a river or stream that is making a slight descent.

Noun

natural or man-made lake.

Noun

large stream of flowing fresh water.

Noun

solid material transported and deposited by water, ice, and wind.

Noun

small sediment particles.

Noun

beginning of a stream, river, or other flow of water.

Noun

body of flowing water.

Noun

land permanently saturated with water and sometimes covered with it.

Noun

stream that feeds, or flows, into a larger stream.

Noun

flow of water descending steeply over a cliff. Also called a cascade.

Noun

area of land covered by shallow water or saturated by water.