Saturday, March 15, 2008

Nile River

Nile River, Egypt

The Nile passes through Cairo, Egypt's capital cityThe Nile passes through Cairo, Egypt's capital city

What is in length?

Nile is the greatest river on earth as it supplies water to the most needy part of the earth; the Sahara Desert; almost 100% of the Nile’s course is through Sahara world most arid desert; considering this great mission of this river’ the question that whether it is the longest river on earth seems irrelevant (it has been opined that River Amazon is longer than Nile by a few km; but what Nile supplies is precious water not length).

The Greeks Called at ‘neilos’ meaning valley. Ancient Africans called it ‘aur’, ‘iteru’ etc meaning black (the rich sediments made the river black). For Egyptians River Nile was their Holy ‘God Hapi’ visible to their eyes, they called the Nile valley as Black-Land and the rest of Africa as Red-Land; because the rich sediments made its basins black and fertile.

Ptolemy and Hebrew children

In its long history many a human being had to sacrifice his life in this eternal river; one of the Pharaohs got alarmed by the Hebrew People gaining strength in population; it is said that the Pharaoh ordered that the first child born to a Hebrew family must be drowned in Nile! If the story is true there might be millions of Hebrew children merged in the Nile. Ptolemy; the brother of Cleopatra who ruled Egypt was also one who got ‘mysteriously’ disappeared in Nile.

The only source

East Africa, showing the course of the Nile River, with the East Africa, showing the course of the Nile River, with the "Blue" and "White" Niles marked in those colours

The area irrigated by Nile equals the total area of India; for Egypt about 25 cities flourish beside this river; its more than 75% people live in Nile basin; for these people they have they have nothing else but River Nile to source water to drink or bathe; agriculture, food, transport, travel and employment of the whole area when depends on this river; how absurd it would be to think a life here without Nile.

Length and related issues

map of egyptEgypt Map

The River Nile is 6670 km in length; it is a combination of two rivers; the source of White Nile is generally accepted as the Ripon Falls an overflow of Lake Victoria; but there is one river that feed Lake Victoria that can be considered as an extension of Nile; the Kagera River that emerges from the Nyungwe Forests and its tributary Ravubu. When the length of Kagera is added Nile is easily the longest in the world. Nile flows northward and falls in to the Mediterranean Sea and average discharge is 3.1 million liters per second.

White and Blue

The White Nile the main tributary of Nile originates from the Lake Victoria the largest lake between Rwanda and Burundi and it flows through Uganda, Sudan (where it merges with the Blue Nile at Khartoum Sudan) and flows in to Egypt irrigating about 3.4 million sq km of area before joining the Mediterranean. The White Nile has two tributaries the

Bahr el Jabel and Sobat

Lake Victoria the primary source of the White Nile is the largest lake in Africa by volume of water (2750 cubic km); it has a length of 337 km and a breadth of 250 km; and an average 40 meters; shore length 3440 km. Three nations share the lake; Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. There are about 3000 islands in this lake of which only 43 are permanently inhabited. The Ssese groups of islands are the major ones inhabited by Bassese Tribes who speak Bantu language. Bugala is the largest island among them; and these islands are accessible by ferries.

The Blue Nile is comparatively small and has its origin in Lake Tana in Ethiopia. Tana is a medium sized lake (with an area of 2000 sq km; it has numerous islands in it of which less than 20 are inhabited; most of the islands have monasteries; among them Island Dek is the largest (population 17,000); the Qirqos is interesting as only monks of the Ethiopian Church live on it; they believe it as a holy place and resting place for the Ark of the Covenant).

Blue Nile enters the southeastern part of Sudan after completing a ‘U’- turn in Ethiopia. After the merger of these two rivers there is only one river that joins the confluence; the Atbara River which is a seasonal one; present only during rainy season.

It is in Khartoum; where the two Niles (White and Blue) merge in to one; the river after the union is called the ‘Proper Nile’ which is about 3000 km in length. Khartoum is the capital of Sudan and has a population of around 2.5 million. The city was established by Ibrahim Pasha an adopted son of Mohammed Ali (the founder of modern Egypt; this dynasty ruled the area comprising Egypt and Sudan until Egypt revolted in 1952). Khartoum was once a notorious slave trade center.

The Sudd (marsh lands) are great wet lands where the Whit Nile (here the White Nile is known as Behr el Jebel). The Sudd is the second largest wetland in the world after Pantanal of Brazil. It has an area between 30,000 sq km (during dry season) and 130,000 sq km during wet season. There are numerous streams, lagoons and papyrus fields in this swamp area that stretches from Mongalla to the Sobat. There are plans to avoid the loss of water due to evaporation in these swamps but so far the Sudd remains as the ‘largest water waster’ in this desert where every drop of water counts.

Lake Nasser and Abu Simbel

The Nile makes its way through the SaharaThe Nile makes its way through the Sahara

In its long course; this great river traverses many countries and numerous landmarks one prominent site is the Abu Simbel Temple; the twin temple dedicated to Ramesses II at upstream Aswan; famous for its marvelous statues and was in news at the time of construction of the famous Aswan dam the dream child of Abdul Nasser former Egyptian ruler.

This dam built with Soviet help gave birth to gigantic artificial lake (Lake Nasser) with a length of 550 km and a width of 35 km. This twin temple was replaced with the help of UNESCO to a higher location to avoid getting submerged in the lake.

Qena and Dendera

Qena is located north of Luxor and Karnak; it the capital of a province and the nearest town to Dendera where the Temple of Hathor the wife of God Horus is located. This is comparatively a latest structure (built between 30 BC and 14 AD) on an already existed old temple; the strange thing with this temple is that its bas reliefs include images of Roman Rulers along with Egyptian Gods!

Luxor and Karnak

The town of Luxor where the world’s biggest temple complex is situated; it occupies 62 acres of built in areas (Karnak Temple - most of the parts now ruined); it is the second most visited structure in Egypt after the Pyramids. On the west bank of Nile there is the Valley of Kings; the royal tombs of the Legendary Pharaohs.

Philae, an island in Nile which in the ancient time housed an ancient temple complex and other monuments including the Tomb of Osiris (a widely worshipped Egyptian god of life, death and fertility; his worshipping was discouraged during the Christian times). In early times ordinary people were not allowed to get in to it.

Cairo and Giza

Dhows on the Nile Dhows on the Nile

Cairo the capital of Egypt is the most important city on the banks of Nile has a 17 million plus population; it is the 16th most populous city in the world. The Cairo City was established by Fatimid Calyph Dynasty (AD 969 -1171), they built wall around the city and built suburbs with beautiful buildings.

Four gates (babs) were installed and no one without any specific purpose were allowed inside. Cairo is said to be the heart of Egypt and every thing specific to Egypt is represented in Cairo like Pagan Temples, ancient Christian Churches, Islamic monuments etc.

Giza needs no introduction is the most famous site in Egypt as well as the world, with its eternal Pyramids, the mysterious sphinxes, tombs, mummies, etc all remaining as the everlasting wonders in the world; it is close to the city of Cairo.

The Nile Delta

The Blue Nile Falls fed by Lake Tana near the city of Bahar Dar, Ethiopia forms the upstream of the Blue Nile. It is also known as Tis Issat Falls after the name of the nearby village.The Blue Nile Falls fed by Lake Tana near the city of Bahar Dar, Ethiopia forms the upstream of the Blue Nile. It is also known as Tis Issat Falls after the name of the nearby village.

The big River Nile leaves a big delta also; the Nile Delta is one of the world’s largest one spreading 240 km along the Mediterranean Coast from Alexandria in the western edge to Portland in the east. The Nile Delta is in the northern coast of Egypt and measures about 160 km from south to north. It is one of the most fertile agricultural lands in the world.

Nile Basin Initiative

Nile is the carrier of the world’s most precious commodity; the water; so many nations most of them craving for water is always bargaining for their pie of this gold. Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia are all complaining against the supremacy of Egypt in utilizing this liquid wealth; the Nile Basin Initiatives are intended to create a peaceful atmosphere for the just sharing of Nile Water between the Nile Basin nations.


Abas KS said...

Hi, Sinu

How are you?

Some people think that the Egytian great Aswan Dam is a mistake & also the location of it should have been a bit further north or south (I can't remember) from where it is now. Farmers are complaining that the soil near the dam & parts of the Nile River is no longer continuously fertile.


Suzanne said...

Thank you for this great post. I'm going to Egypt in April so I have lapped up all this information. The trip will be more meaningful knowing all this.

Sinu S Kumar said...

yes, there are always two sides to any argument and the Egytian great Aswan Dam is no exception. on one hand lies the energy demands of the nation and on the other lies the destrucion it causes to the immediate surroundings. its a matter of how the authorities perceive the issue and what their priorities are.

Sinu S Kumar said...

Dear Suzanne, we're glad that you liked the post, we're rolling out a couple of posts on egypt in the coming days, do read it and send in your comments. wish you a happy journey in advance. send in some photos if you could that i could use on the blog.

warm regars

sinu kumar