The Congo River

What's the only river in the world that crosses the equator twice?

And the answer: the Congo River.  

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marie Frechon

The second longest river in Africa after the Nile, the Congo River flows through seven countries, and zigzags across the equator twice as it flows from eastern Africa to the Atlantic Ocean. The river is also the deepest in the world, reaching 720 feet deep in some parts.

The Congo River is a powerful, deep river that spans far and wide. The river has the second-largest flow in the world, behind the Amazon, and the second-largest watershed of any river, again trailing the Amazon. While most of it is navigable by boat, there are several perilous stretches, one of which that is known as the Gates of Hell for its 75 miles of rapids.

The Congo River is integral to the continued perseverance of the cultures by which it is surrounded. It has been a major source of transportation for people in Africa for many hundred years – in fact, there are still few roads and railways, as the river is relied on for much of the transportation in the region. The river provides over 9,000 miles of navigable shipping routes in Central Africa, and a tremendous amount of goods are transported on the river every day. Further, those who live along the Congo River depend on the water to irrigate their crops of cotton, sugarcane, and tobacco.

As a massive, freshwater heart of Africa, the Congo also holds an abundance of natural resources such as ivory, rubber and timber. Further, the Congo River Basin protects an abundance of life. Without this river, life in the heart of Africa would not be able to thrive.

See the river in action below.

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