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Hieroglyphs meaning Great river or Nile
Map of the Nile

The Nile is one of the major rivers of the world. It is entirely within Africa. It is the longest river on Earth (about 6,650 km or 4,132 miles). It begins near the equator and ends in a large delta into the Mediterranean Sea near Alexandria, Egypt. Its name is from the Greek word Neilos, meaning "river valley".

The Nile was very important to Ancient Egyptians. With its annual flood the Nile provided most of the water used to grow crops in Egypt, whereas the rest of Egypt is a desert. Thus, the Nile Valley is an oasis. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote that Egypt was the gift of the Nile.

The Nile no longer floods in Egypt since the completion of the Aswan Dam in 1970.

The drainage basin of the Nile covers 3,254,555 square kilometres (1,256,591 sq mi), about 10% of the area of Africa.

White Nile + Blue Nile = Nile[edit | edit source]

The Nile is composed by the junction in Khartoum of two tributaries : the White Nile and the Blue Nile.

  • The White Nile flows from Lake Victoria in Uganda, and through Sudan to Khartoum. It is the longest of the two. It flows water all year long because of the uniform rainfall of the equatorial climate . It gets its name from the whitish clay suspended in its waters.
  • The Blue Nile springs from Lake Tana in the Ethiopian Highlands, under tropical climate with dry and wet seasons. The Blue Nile flows about 1,400 kilometres to Khartoum.The flow of the Blue Nile varies considerably over its yearly cycle and is the main contribution to the large natural variation of the Nile flow in Sudan and Egypt. During the dry season the natural discharge of the Blue Nile can be as low as 113 m3/s (4,000 cu ft/s). During the wet season the peak flow of the Blue Nile often exceeds 5,663 m3/s (200,000 cu ft/s) in late August (a difference of a factor of 50). Ninety percent of the water and ninety-six percent of the transported sediment carried by the Nile originates from Ethiopia due to the Blue Nile and others tributaries. The erosion and transportation of silt only occurs during the Ethiopian rainy season in the summer ; the rest of the year, the great rivers draining Ethiopia into the Nile have a weaker flow.

The Nile and the Egyptian civilization[edit | edit source]

Flooding of the Nile. Photography taken in 1908

The Nile provided a great role in the development of Egyptian civilization. Silt deposits from the Nile made the surrounding land fertile because the river overflowed its banks annually. The Ancient Egyptians cultivated and traded wheat, flax, papyrus and other crops around the Nile. Water was vital to both people and livestock. The Nile was also a convenient and efficient means of transportation for people and goods.

Hapy was the god of the annual floods, and both he and the Pharaoh were thought to control the flooding.

The ancient Egyptian calendar was based on the 3 cycles of the Nile. These seasons, each consisting of four months of thirty days each, were called Akhet, Peret, and Shemu. Akhet, which means inundation, was the time of the year when the Nile flooded, leaving several layers of fertile soil behind. Akhet began in June. Peret was the growing season and Shemu, the last season, was the harvest season.

The Nile was considered to be a causeway from life to death and afterlife. The east side of the Nile was thought of as a place of birth and growth, and the west side was considered the place of death. In Ancient Egyptian believed that the god Ra, the Sun, underwent birth, death, and resurrection each day as he crossed the sky from east to west. Thus, all tombs were west of the Nile, because the Egyptians believed that in order to enter the afterlife, they had to be buried on the side that symbolized death.

adapted from English Wikipedia [1]

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