“O’er Egypt’s land of memory floods are level,
And they are thine, O Nile! and well thou knowest
The soul-sustaining airs and blasts of evil,
And fruits, and poisons spring where’er thou flowest.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley
We have all heard of the phrase that Egypt is the “gift of the Nile“. Yes it is a fact that Egypt would not have been inhabitable in the absence of River Nile. The Nile has flooded and still floods the land in Egypt and deposits black sediment, which is why Egyptians called it “Ar” which means “black”. The river was named Nile since there is a Semitic word “Nahal” that was later named “Neilos”, meaning river valley. The Egyptians rightly termed it as “river of life” since it has given life not only to the land of Egypt but also to its culture and civilization.
The Egyptian civilization started around the banks of the Nile as the river deposits extremely fertile soil, which provided the Egyptians a rich source to grow food crops, which helped sustain the crops amidst the desert. It has been proved that the River Nile has consistently been Egypt’s source of all things green and abundant, when it comes to cultivation. This river is the major source of water for all of Egypt.
Interesting Facts about the River Nile
- The Nile originates in Burundi, which is located South of the equator that flows across Northeastern Africa, finally crossing Egypt and then draining into the Mediterranean sea.
- It is one of the longest rivers in the world; it used to be the longest but recent studies suggest that the Amazon river is possibly longer than the Nile. The length of the river is approximately 6695 km and the river has two tributaries.
- Only 22% of the river passes through Egypt, the other countries through which the Nile passes are Sudan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Zaire, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.
- The cities that Nile flows past are Cairo, Khartoum, Gondokoro, Aswan, Karnak, Thebes and the town of Alexandria.
- River Nile has two tributaries namely the Blue Nile and the White Nile; the volume of water of Nile is mostly determined by the Blue Nile, which contributes more than 50% of the water of the Nile river but then fertility wise, both the tributaries contribute considerably. In fact White Nile is called so because it appears white due to the presence of silt. White Nile originates at Lake Victoria and then the Blue Nile, which originates at Lake Tana in Ethiopia, joins in Sudan and proceeds northwards.
- The Bahr al Ghazal and the Sobat River are the major tributaries of White Nile.
- The source of the river is debatable since it is commonly known that the source of the river is Lake Victoria, which is the biggest lake in Africa, but it is observed that on the northern side of the lake there is a waterfall called Ripon Falls, which has a small opening where supposedly the water in the River Nile comes from but then this cannot be held as the ultimate truth since there are many rivers that flow into Lake Victoria. Presently River Kagera and its tributary, which is called Ruvubu whose headwaters are in Burundi, are considered to be the source of the River Nile.
- Nile also played an important part in building if the famous Pyramids since the blocks of stone, which were used to make these pyramids, were actually transported from the source to the site with the help of the Nile.
- If you have read the quote carefully it also mentions about the “blasts of evil” associated with the river, by evils probably Shelley meant the risks of flood that Egyptians initially faced. The presently erected Aswan Dam has now made Egypt a safer place, in respect to flooding.
- The Aswan Dam dam situated across the Nile River in Aswan, Egypt. A new dam called the High Dam was constructed between 1960 and 1970. This dam has had a significant impact on the economy as well as the Egyptian culture. Both these dams have helped control floods and protects the farmlands, especially the cotton crops.
- Nile is also home to many deadly crocodiles, who live on the banks of the river.
These are a few facts about the river Nile. This river has helped give rise to a great and prosperous civilization. Without this river, the lands of Egypt would have remained barren. The dams build across the river has helped reduce the impact of annual floods considerably. It is one of the most important Nile river facts, that this river will forever remain the generous endowment of nature, for the people of Egypt.