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Introduction to The Nile

Comparison Between the Nile and Amazon Rivers

Criteria Nile River Amazon River
Images Nile river Amazon River
History - The Nile was the lifeline of the Egyptian civilization,
- Most of the population of Egypt and all of its cities,, lie along those parts of the Nile valley north of Aswan
- All the cultural and historical sites of Egypt are found along the banks of the river.
- Traditionally considered as a virgin Rainforest, with few native tribal settlements
- Amazonia was not heavily populated.
Flow - Runs South-north from the High mountains of Ethiopia and the Great Lakes region of central Africa, through Sudan and Egypt
- The Nile ends in a large Delta that empties into the Mediterranean Sea.
- The northern section of the river flows entirely through the arid Sahara Desert
- Within the northern section between Aswan and Khartoum, in Nubia, the River passes through formations of hard igneous rock, resulting in a series of rapids and cataracts, forming a natural southern boundary for Egypt
- Runs East-West from the Andes Mountains in Peru, through Brazil to the Atlantic Ocean.
River Basin and Agriculture - Every summer, torrential rains in the highlands of Ethiopia cause a drastic increase in the volume of water flowing into the Nile from its tributaries.
- Between June and September, the reaches of the Nile running through Egypt would burst their banks and cover the adjacent flood plain
- . When the waters receded, around September or October, they left behind a rich alluvial deposit of exceptionally fertile black silt over the croplands, making the land surrounding the Nile is extremely fertile
- Egypt's stability was an immediate result of the Nile's fertility
- The river basin occupies 7 million square kilometers of tropical rainforest - - this is the largest rainforest in the world
- The vast Amazonian forest vegetation appears extremely lush, leading to the erroneous conclusion that the underlying soil must be fertile. In fact, the nutrients in the system are locked up in the vegetation and the soil is sandy and of low natural fertility because of its' lack of nutrients and high acidity.
- Agriculture was historically of relatively minor importance in the life of native indigenous people - very small isolated plantations
- hunting and fishing was the major source of food
Transportation The calm waters of the Nile from Aswan to the Mediterranean were ideal for downstream boat transportation
- The Nile flowed from south to north at an average speed of about four knots during inundation season.
That made a river voyage from Thebes north to Memphis lasting two weeks.
During the dryer season when the water level was lower, and speed slower, the same trip would last about two month
- The north wind is the prevailing wind in Egypt - boats traveled easily upstream under sail
- This natural and simple transportation system was a key element in the development of a united civilization
  1. The Amazon river passes through large series of rapids and cataracts, making downstream navigation difficult and dangerous in many places
  2. Wind flows in all directions making Upstream navigation impossible
  3. The extremely dense vegetation made land transportation tedious
  4. All these factors led to the development of only small villages along the Amazon's banks, scattered in hundreds of small tribes with no writing system
Wild life - In the Egyptian Sector of the river, wildlife was relatively small, consisting of small fish, Nile Crocodiles and some birds
- Other wild mammals like lions became extinct since antiquity
- The vegetation is so dense that sunlight can't reach the rainforest floor.
- one third of all species in the world live in the Amazon Rainforest
- The diversity of plant species in the Amazon basin is the highest on Earth - more than 75,000 types of trees and 150,000 species of other plants.
- One square kilometer of Amazon rainforest contains about 90,000 tons of living plants.
Width - The width of the Nile north from Aswan is 2.8 km in average
The greatest width is at Edfu, with 7.5 km, the smallest at Silwa Gorge, near Aswan, with 350 meters.
- No bridges crossed the river in ancient times
- The average width is 8 km - No bridges
Length - Starting from the Kyaka river in Burundi, the Nile is 6,671 km long - longest river in the world - 6280 km long
Depth - The water level was on average about 8-11 meters deep
- A nilometer was used to measure the height of water in ancient times. - priests monitored the level of the river to predict the summer flood, the quality of the year's flood was a vital part of the agricultural cycle
- The average depth of the river is 40 m - this fact had little importance to the daily life of indigenous people
Tributaries - The Nile has two major tributaries, the White Nile and Blue Nile, the latter being the source of most of the Nile's water and fertile soil - Thousands of tributaries join the main branch of the Amazon river. Of these tributaries, 17 are over 1600 kilometers long. the largest drainage system in the world in terms of the volume of its flow and the area of its basin
Drainage System - The Nile is unusual in that its last tributary (the Atbara) joins it roughly halfway to the sea. From that point north, the Nile diminishes because of evaporation.
- The Nile River's average discharge is about 300 million cubic meters per day.
- The quantity of fresh water released by the Amazon to the Atlantic Ocean is enormous: up to 26000 million cubic meters per day.
- Total river flow greater than all the other top ten largest rivers flowing into the ocean combined
- The Amazon is responsible for a fifth of the total volume of fresh water entering the oceans worldwide.
- Offshore of the mouth of the Amazon, potable water can be drawn from the ocean while still out of sight of the coastline, and the salinity of the ocean is notably lower a hundred miles out to sea.

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Video: A Fantastic Trip to Ancient Egypt. And the Nile.

A journey back in time. Egyptian builders @ work. Pharaos, monuments, laborers. Trade, resources, plagues. Baskets, pottery, treasures....

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By Ayman Fadl - Copyright © 2001-2014