175 Facts About Rivers And Streams That You Need To Know

Sridevi Tolety
Feb 29, 2024 By Sridevi Tolety
Originally Published on Dec 30, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Shruti Thapa
Streams and rivers form the earth most key geographical features
Age: 3-18
Read time: 10.2 Min

Planet earth is blessed with several long waterways in the form of brooks, streams, rivers, and underground springs.

Streams and rivers form the earth's most key geographical features. These water bodies are capable of giving water to sustain life and at the same time inflict massive damages with the same water in the form of floods.

When you think of a river, what's the first thing that comes to your mind? Water, right? The source, in fact, the only source through which we get water that's suitable for our drinking is nature's one of the most crucial resources of survival. Not just a river but a lake is also a resourceful way to get drinking water.

The main difference between the two is that a river flows, and a lake stays still. But rivers are more than just for drinking water purposes. It provides life to other aquatic species as well. Learn more about rivers, streams, and its importance.

If you want to know river facts, check out our other articles on rivers, the deepest rivers in the world, and the longest rivers in the world here on Kidadl.


Any interesting facts about rivers, sea, ocean, tributaries, or streams start from their source, such as a mountain. Rivers flow downward, and they can do so in both north-to-south and south-to-north directions. Mostly the river flows downhill resulting in small water bodies called tributaries. These tributaries add to the speed and volume of water which is why whenever you see the source of river near its source point, it would appear to be very small, but by the time it reaches its need, it is grown in size and volume. This end-point of rivers and streams is known as a mouth that often merges into larger water bodies like oceans or the sea. The site where fresh water and saltwater mixes, forms a unique ecosystem for the organisms that thrive in both salt and freshwater habitat. The exact number of rivers in the world is not known, but the major ones are discussed further in the article.

If you thought rivers could only have their water flowing from the mountains, then here's an interesting fact, rivers start not only from a high point in mountains but also if a lake were to overflow, the water flowing from this overflowed river would move down an elevation causing the creation of a river. But is the source the only way to classify rivers and streams? Of course not; let's find more classification methods.

Any environmental study involves water, and thus oceans, streams, lakes, and rivers are subject to many scientific research projects. Thus, many scientists developed classification systems to segregate the plethora of information on river water based on its depth, direction, speed, ecosystem, flow, and length. These classification systems classify rivers by topography (physical features and shape), biotic status (the living things inside the river), Strahler stream order, and whitewater (recreational activities done on the river) biotic classification focuses on classifying rivers based on the type of ecosystem present inside the river. You would find the classifying labels to be that of the cleanest or purest river in the world or the most contaminated river of the world. The topographical classification includes a river's physical features and shapes while categorizing. The primary categories in this classification are alluvial, mix, and bedrock. Rivers are not only used for providing drinking water but are also used to provide several recreational opportunities such as whitewater rafting or navigating boats at varying speeds in a fast flow of the river. The most popular activity, however, remains to be rafting. So rivers are classified according to their flow and difficulty to ride into six main categories, namely, Class I: where the river flow is fast but the difficulty to ride a raft is easy. Class II: riding difficulty is a novice, but there is a presence of medium-sized waves. Class III: has intermediate riding difficulty with irregular waves; Class IV: on the other hand, has both advanced difficulty level and powerful waves. Class V has violent waves, complex river flow passages, and Class VI is the most dangerous of all with extreme river flow conditions and waves.

The Strahler Stream Order proposes to classify rivers on the basis of a Strahler number that gives an idea about the complex branches of a river. This 1952 method creates a kind of pyramid of rivers based on their tributary numbers, and the categories range from 1st order to 12th order.


A river is one of nature's marvels that has not many, but still significant, features associated with it as it flows through the land and ends at sea. As its journey starts from the mountain, it undergoes several changes and formations before culminating at sea. Let us see some of these interesting facts about a river's features.

The basic feature of any river is to start at high points of any land which becomes their source and follow a downward journey to ultimately end into saltwater. This downward flow also results in the collection of more water from any drainage basin, which allows it to fill the river and prevents it from becoming dry before reaching its mouth.

The features of a river include upper, middle, and lower course features. Flood plains, V-shaped valleys, and oxbow lakes are some examples of these features.

A river's upper course features can be classified into features like gorges, interlocking spurs, waterfalls, steep side V-shaped valleys, and rapids.

Meanders, Oxbow lakes, and wider-shallow valleys form the upper course river features.

The river's lower course features result in floodplains, deltas, and flat-bottomed valleys.

A river bed is a passage about which the river flows, and the earthy soil on each side of the river is known as the river bank.

The movement of water inside a river is known as a current, and you would find this current to be the strongest near the source of the river.

Perrinneal rivers flow throughout the year, and a river flowing at specific times of the year only is known as the intermittent river. The ones that flow in caves or beneath the ground are called subterranean rivers.


Earth is known as mother earth for a reason; just like any other, she whole-heartedly provides everything she can. Similarly, a river also provides its benefactors as much as possible. Let's look at the benefits humans have from these rivers.

Rivers have always been important to the world since prehistoric times. During prehistoric times, people built houses near river banks where they would have ample drinking water, fish and other small animals to eat, water to bathe and cook as well. This is also why rivers are known to be cradles of civilizations such as the Indus Valley civilization, Mesopotamian civilizations, the Chinese and Egyptian civilizations. Rivers worldwide are the backbone of any ecosystem, and even today, on any riverbank, you would see a hydroelectric plant used to generate electricity. How useful can one resource be!

Farmers construct canals from streams and rivers to irrigate their crops. Recreational activities such as fishing, boating, and swimming are also possible benefits for humans provided by rivers and their flow. Rivers prove to be an extensively inhabited home to several plants and animals. Many fish, mammals, snails, and salamanders call a river it's home and thrive in it. Hence it's not just humans who benefit from the existence of rivers but other species as well.

The currents in a river can be powerful enough to even pick up and move large items like cars! Learn more such fun facts on rivers in this article.

Important Facts About Rivers And Streams

Rivers have long been a part of myths, religious texts, and stories. Many such facts about rivers exist that we are sure most of you are unaware of, so let's end the article with a dive into some of the important facts about rivers and streams. We are sure you are aware of the water cycle, but it's not just the water, rain, and clouds that take part in the cycle. Rivers and streams are also a part of it. When it precipitates on the ground, some rainwater is absorbed by the soil, some sinks deep in the ground, and some flows into different rivers and streams to make them larger rivers. Eventually, the ocean takes in all of these water bodies. These rivers, streams, and their respective flows would appear to be akin to veins on the Earth's surface from space.

The Mississippi River makes for United States's longest river with a length of about 2340 mi (3765 km). Along with the Mississippi River, the Missouri River makes up for the longest North American river system of 3902 mi (6279 km), albeit still shorter than the Amazon and Nile rivers. Rivers also have capabilities to bring about changes in various landforms on the earth's surface as the erosion process creates canyons and valleys. UK's longest river is the Severn, followed by the river Thames.

Did you know that when streams and rivers connect, they form a system that is known as a watershed? Both rivers and streams in a closed watershed empty out in lakes, and the ones in an open watershed empty out into an ocean. About 65% of drinking water is collected from these rivers and streams! But these hold only 1% of the entire planet's water. Over 99% of water is found as frozen polar ice caps or as seawater. Hence the constant emphasis on protecting rivers and conserving them.

The Amazon River, Mississippi River, Yenesei river, the Yangtze, the Nile, the Ob, Yellow river, and the Parana form the world's longest rivers. The Nile, however, holds the title of the longest river in the world, with a length of 4,145 mi (6,671 km). The source of this river is Lake Victoria, and it ends in the Mediterranean Sea. Europe's largest river is the Missouri River.

The Amazon River is by far the second-longest river in the world, with a distance covering 4000 mi (6437 km). Although the exact end of the river is unknown due to its varying mouths, it still makes for the largest river and the widest river 7 mi(11 km) due to its enormous volume of water. Can you believe that 20% of the world's ocean gets water discharged from Amazon itself! Origins of the Amazon River can be traced to the Andes in Peru, and its flow is from Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Bolivia. The Amazon hosts a variety of river creatures ranging from pink-skinned dolphins, freshwater turtles, electric eels, stingrays, and many other fishes. And you'd be surprised to know that several of these creatures have been around for more than 200 million years!

But this was all about the longest rivers; what about the world's deepest river? It's the Congo Rivers from central Africa. Despite its exact depth unknown, scientists believe the waters of the Congo river must reach at least 754 ft (230 m) which is deep enough to swallow the entire London's clocktower! Colorado River is another popular river that is said to disappear into desert sands. It is visible from atop to a dark blue streak onto the earth's surface. As the river nears its end, a multicolored layout of farmlands is set at the base of the Sierra de Juarez Mountains. In fact, were you aware that the Grand Canyon is a creation owed to the flow of the Colorado river? This river shapes the physical layout of the Grand Canyon. For over 70 million years, the Colorado river has given millions of thirsty residents living on its bank's water for their living.

Rivers host a variety of plants and animals, but only certain species of, say, fish or plants can survive in brackish waters. Brackish waters are the regions where fresh water merges with the ocean's saline water.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 175 facts about rivers and streams that you need to know, then why not take a look at famous rivers in India or famous rivers.

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Written by Sridevi Tolety

Bachelor of Science specializing in Botany, Master of Science specializing in Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs

Sridevi Tolety picture

Sridevi ToletyBachelor of Science specializing in Botany, Master of Science specializing in Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs

With a Master's degree in clinical research from Manipal University and a PG Diploma in journalism from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Sridevi has cultivated her passion for writing across various domains. She has authored a wide range of articles, blogs, travelogues, creative content, and short stories that have been published in leading magazines, newspapers, and websites. Sridevi is fluent in four languages and enjoys spending her spare time with loved ones. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, cooking, painting, and listening to music.

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