The Zambezi River is the fourth-largest river in Africa. The Zambezi River originates in the mountains at an altitude of 1,300 meters on the northwestern border of Zambia. Its mainstream flows through Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Mozambique.
The Zambezi River is a developed water system with many tributaries. The main tributaries are Kuanduo River, Chobe River, Kafue River, Luangwa River, etc. The tributaries on both sides develop asymmetrically.
Due to many natural obstacles, such as sandbars at the mouth of the river, shallow waters, rapids, and waterfalls, the Zambezi River as a trade route has only about 2,610 kilometers of water for boats with shallow drafts. You will learn more about the fantasy river in this post.
Zambezi River Introduction
The Zambezi River, with its tributaries, forms the fourth-largest river basin in Africa and irrigates a large area of the central and southern part of the continent. It originates from the Central African Plateau, through south-central and southeastern Africa, and flows into the Indian Ocean. The Zambezi also flows through one of the world's greatest natural wonders, Victoria Falls, and the Kariba and Cabora Bassa dams, among the largest hydroelectric projects in Africa. The Zambezi River crosses or forms the borders of six countries, as mentioned above, and the use of its water has become the subject of a series of international agreements.
- The upstream from the source to Victoria Falls is 1287 kilometers long.
- The middle reaches from Victoria Falls to the Cabra Bassa Reservoir in Mozambique is 869 kilometers long;
- After the Cabra Bassa is downstream of the Zambezi River, 579 kilometers long.
Zambezi River Size
- The river flows eastward for about 2,200 miles (3,540 kilometers) from its source on the Central African Plateau to empty into the Indian Ocean.
- With its tributaries, it drains an area of more than 500,000 square miles (1,300,000 square kilometers).
- A huge estuary delta is formed where it enters the sea, with an area of 7148㎞². The average annual flow of the estuary is 7080m³/s, and the runoff is 223.2 billion cubic meters, second only to the Congo River in Africa.
Climate And Hydrology
The Zambezi River is in the tropics. The upper and middle reaches are on the plateau, so the winter (May-July) is cool and dry, with an average temperature of 20°C. The rainy season starts from November to April. Precipitation and humidity downstream in Mozambique increased due to the summer monsoon. The precipitation in the Zambezi River basin decreases from north to south (1560-650 mm), so the tributaries on both sides develop asymmetrically. The rainfall in the upper southwest is small, the variability is large, and the tributaries are mostly intermittent rivers.
The Zambezi River is well recharged, and its flow varies greatly with the precipitation season. The river has distinct flood and dry seasons; the peak flow is usually in March or April. The average annual flow can reach 7000m³ (247,000 cubic feet) per second. The flood season occurs in the rainy season, from November to April.
Flora and Fauna
The vegetation along the upper and middle course of the Zambezi is predominantly savanna, with deciduous trees, grass, and open woodland. Forestland with species of the genus Baikiaea, found extensively on sandy interfluves between drainage channels, is economically the most important vegetation type in Zambia, for it is the source of the valuable Rhodesian teak. In the lower course of the Zambezi, dense bush and evergreen forest, with palm trees and patches of mangrove swamp, is the typical vegetation.
The Zambezi also supports several hundred species of fish and birds, some of which are endemic to the river. Important species include cichlids fished heavily for food, catfish, tigerfish, yellowfish, and other large species. Hippo, Nile crocodiles, and monitor lizards are commonly found along many of the calm stretches of the river. Species of birds, like heron, pelican, egret, and African fish eagle, are also found in large numbers here. The riverine woodlands support many large animals, such as buffalo, zebra, giraffe, and elephant.
There are many waterfalls and rapids along the Zambezi River, including 72 waterfalls, among which the largest Victoria Falls is a world-famous wide waterfall. The Zambezi River cruise tourism project area is located in the middle reaches of the Zambezi River, which is the widest part, as horizontal as a mirror, 2 kilometers wide, and 5 kilometers away from Victoria Falls. It is surrounded by Zambezi National Park on one side and Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park on the other. The river is also rich in hydraulic resources, with a reserve of 137 million kilowatts. The downstream section is the longest navigable section. The above factors make the Zambezi River basin a relatively developed African area.