The Nile is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa and is the longest river in Africa and the disputed longest river in the world, as a group of Brazilian scientists claims that the Amazon River is longer than the Nile. The Nile is about 6,650 km (4,130 mi)[n 1] long and its drainage basin covers eleven countries: Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Republic of Sudan, and Egypt. In particular, the Nile is the primary water source of Egypt and Sudan.
The Nile has two major tributaries – the White Nile and the Blue Nile. The White Nile is considered to be the headwaters and primary stream of the Nile itself. The Blue Nile, however, is the source of most of the water, containing 80% of the water and silt. The White Nile is longer and rises in the Great Lakes region of central Africa, with the most distant source still undetermined but located in either Rwanda or Burundi. It flows north through Tanzania, Lake Victoria, Uganda, and South Sudan. The Blue Nile begins at Lake Tana in Ethiopia and flows into Sudan from the southeast. The two rivers meet just north of the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.
The northern section of the river flows north almost entirely through the Sudanese desert to Egypt, then ends in a large delta and flows into the Mediterranean Sea. Egyptian civilization and Sudanese kingdoms have depended on the river since ancient times. Most of the population and cities of Egypt lie along with those parts of the Nile valley north of Aswan, and nearly all the cultural and historical sites of Ancient Egypt are found along river banks.
Etymology and names
The standard English names “White Nile” and “Blue Nile”, to refer to the river’s source, derive from Arabic names formerly applied only to the Sudanese stretches which meet at Khartoum.
In the ancient Egyptian language, the Nile is called Ḥ’pī (Hapy) or Iteru, meaning “river”. In Coptic, the word ⲫⲓⲁⲣⲟ, pronounced piaro (Sahidic) or phiaro (Bohairic), means “the river” (lit. p(h).iar-o “the.canal-great”), and comes from the same ancient name.
In Nobiin the river is called Áman Dawū, meaning “the great water”.
In Egyptian Arabic, the Nile is called en-Nīl while in Standard Arabic it is called an-Nīl. In Biblical Hebrew:
The source of the Nile is sometimes considered to be Lake Victoria, but the lake has feeder rivers of considerable size. The Kagera River, which flows into Lake Victoria near the Tanzanian town of Bukoba, is the longest feeder, although sources do not agree on which is the longest tributary of the Kagera and hence the most distant source of the Nile itself. It is either the Ruvyironza, which emerges in Bururi Province, Burundi, or the Nyabarongo, which flows from Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda. The two feeder rivers meet near Rusumo Falls on the Rwanda-Tanzania border.
The source of the Nile from an underwater spring at the neck of Lake Victoria, Jinja
In 2010, an exploration party went to a place described as the source of the Rukarara tributary, and by hacking a path up steep jungle-choked mountain slopes in the Nyungwe forest found (in the dry season) an appreciable incoming surface flow for many kilometers upstream, and found a new source, giving the Nile a length of 6,758 km (4,199 mi).
Gish Abay is reportedly the place where the “holy water” of the first drops of the Blue Nile develop
Water sharing dispute
The Nile’s water has affected the politics of East Africa and the Horn of Africa for many decades. The dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over the $4.5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has become a national preoccupation in both countries, stoking patriotism, deep-seated fears, and even murmurs of war. Countries including Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya have complained about Egyptian domination of its water resources. The Nile Basin Initiative promotes peaceful cooperation among those states.
Several attempts have been made to establish agreements between the countries sharing the Nile waters. On 14 May 2010 at Entebbe, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda signed a new agreement on sharing the Nile water even though this agreement raised strong opposition from Egypt and Sudan. Ideally, such international agreements should promote equitable and efficient usage of the Nile basin’s water resources. Without a better understanding of the availability of the future water resources of the Nile, it is possible that conflicts could arise between these countries relying on the Nile for their water supply, economic and social developments