The Nile, in Africa, is the second longest river on Earth (Amazon is now considered the longest river). It flows generally northwards through Sudan and Egypt, from Khartoum where the White Nile meets the Blue Nile to the Mediterranean Sea through an extensive delta in the north of Egypt.
|The Nile in Egypt|
The Nile (iteru in ancient Egyptian) was the lifeline of the ancient Egyptian civilization, with most of the population and all of the cities of Egypt in the Nile valley. It still supports much of the population of Egypt, living between otherwise inhospitable regions of the Sahara Desert. The river flooded every spring, depositing fertile soil on the fields. The flow of the river is disturbed at several points by cataracts, which are sections of faster flowing water with many small islands, shallow water and rocks, forming an obstacle to navigation by boats. The first cataract, the closest to the mouth of the river, is at Aswan to the north of the Aswan Dams. The Nile north of Aswan is a regular tourist route, with cruise boats and falukas, which are traditional wooden sailing boats.
While most Egyptians still live in the Nile valley, the construction of the Aswan High Dam (finished in 1970) to provide hydroelectricity ended the spring floods and their renewal of the fertile soil.
The source of the Nile was unknown until the 19th century, when John Hanning Speke was the first to identify it as Lake Victoria. Various earlier expeditions since ancient times had failed to determine the source.