The Nile River

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by Edgar A. Carranza

Nile River is the longest river in the world

The  Nile River is about 6,670 km (4,160 miles) in length and is the longest river in Africa and in the world. It is like a giant snake that slithers through some of the driest desert on. It passes through the present-day countries of Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. Although it is generally associated with Egypt, only 22% of the Nile’s course runs through that country creating a fertile green valley across the desert. .

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Around 3000 BC settlements began to appear in small groups around the Nile River and a small fertile area around the Nile that we now call the Nile River Valley. These settlements were found almost nowhere else in Northern Africa at this period in time because the surrounding dry deserts lacked the necessities for permanent settlements such as water and fertile soil. The Nile provided both of these things for the Ancient Egyptians, and without it, permanent settlements would have been almost impossible.

Floods provided the only source of moisture to sustain crops (Photo credit ) 

Every year, heavy summer rain in the Ethiopian highlands, sent a torrent of water that overflowed the banks of the Nile. When the floods went down it left thick rich mud (black silt) which was excellent soil to plant seeds in after it had been ploughed.

 Ancient Egyptians could grow crops only in the mud left behind when the Nile flooded. ( Photo credit )

The ancient Egyptians could grow crops only in the mud left behind when the Nile flooded. They grew crops such as wheat, barley, vegetables, figs, melons, pomegranates and vines. They also grew flax which was made into linen. The most important crop was grain. The ancient Egyptians used grain to make bread, porridge and beer. Grain was the first crop they grew after inundation (flooding season). Once the grain was harvested, they grew vegetables such as onions, leeks, cabbages, beans, cucumbers and lettuce. Farmers planted fruit trees and vines along paths, to give shade as well as fruit.

Along with water and fertile soil, the Nile River also provided transportation for the Egyptians and enabled them to interact with other civilizations along the Nile.

The city of Cairo, on the Nile River in Egypt. ( Photo credit )

The Nile River was  home to one of the earliest civilizations in history. Today, more than seventy million people live along the banks of the Nile, the world’s longest river.