The Congo River (French: Fleuve Congo), also known as the Zaire River, is located in central and western Africa and is the second-longest river in Africa, second only to the Nile River. The upper Lualaba River originates from the Zaire Sabah Plateau, and the farthest source is in Zambia, called the Chambishi River. It is called the Congo River after it flows out of the Boyoma Falls.
The mainstream of the Congo River runs through the Congo Basin, forming a large arc. It crosses the equator twice and then flows into the Atlantic Ocean. It flows through Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of the Congo, and Angola. The Democratic Republic of Congo section is more than 1000 kilometers long.
The Congo River basin has the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world after the Amazon rainforest in South America, covering an area of 3.7 million square kilometers, accounting for 70% of the total area of tropical rainforests in Africa and 25% of the total area of tropical rainforests in the world. It is very rich in biological resources.
Congo River Introduction
The Congo River originates in the highlands and mountains of the East Africa Rift, between Lakes Tanganyika and Mweru at an elevation of 5,760 feet (1,760 meters) above sea level and a distance of about 430 miles (700 km) from the Indian Ocean. The Congo River basin is located in the famous Congo Basin in the equatorial region of Africa. With its many tributaries, the Congo forms the continent's largest network of navigable waterways. Because the river's many large tributaries drain areas with rainy seasons that alternate on either side of the equator, the Congo has a fairly constant water flow throughout the year.
The Congo River system has three distinct parts from its source to the estuary: the upper Congo, the middle Congo, and the lower Congo. Kisangani marks the true start of the navigable upper Congo; Lake Malebo marks the beginning of the lower Congo.
|Source||highlands and mountains of the East Africa Rift|
|Length||4,700 km (2,900 miles)|
|Basin size||4.01 million square kilometers (1,550,000 sq mi)|
|Maximum depth||219.5 m (720 ft)|
The overall length of the Congo River is 4,380 km, but if one takes the Chambeshi River as the source, the total length reaches 4,700 km (2,900 miles). That makes the Congo the second-longest river in Africa after the Nile and the fifth-longest in the world.
The Congo River drains a total watershed area of 4.01 million square kilometers (1,550,000 sq mi), covering all of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as parts of Congo-Brazzaville, Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola. If calculated by flow, the Congo River is the second largest river in the world after the Amazon River. The average annual flow of the estuary is 41,000 cubic meters per second, and the maximum flow reaches 80,000 cubic meters per second.
The Congo River basin has the most humid and hot climate in Africa. It has a constant rainwater supply throughout the year, and the flow is balanced, giving birth to the most extensive and dense equatorial tropical rainforest. The savanna is outside the forest area, where various organisms depend on abundant water resources to survive. The giant river also forms one of the largest biogeographic barriers in Africa. For example, chimpanzees and bonobos are separated by the Congo River. Chimpanzees are only found north of the Congo River, and bonobos are found only south of the Congo River. Many other animals show similar geographic distribution patterns. The Congo River has a major role in African biogeography, but little is known about its history.
The Congo River is partially navigable from below the Boyoma Falls. Together with many tributaries, it forms a great shipping waterway system with a total length of about 16,000 kilometers, which plays an important role in promoting the economic development of the inland. Various economic activities include palm oil production on the banks of the Kwilu River and the establishment of crude coffee plantations in Kisangani, etc. The hydraulic reserves of the Congo River basin account for 1/6 of the world's known hydraulic resources.