Amazon is the biggest river, responsible for one-fifth of the world’s freshwater outflow. As such, it is the single most crucial freshwater system globally. China’s Yangtze is the world’s third-largest river, with more than one-fifth of the world’s population.
Rivers are places to enjoy, where anybody can relax and appreciate the beauty of the natural world. But rivers are also vital for humankind and always have been. In many countries, rivers still provide the majority of the water supply. River water enters a massive treatment plant, filtered and purified before piping to homes. As well as water to drink, we need food to eat. Also, rivers are a vital source of water used to irrigate crops.
Present industries were founded on rivers. The electricity from this station powers industry once driven by water mills. River water in these giant cooling towers is a key element of electricity generation. River water cools the plant and offers transport for the fuel. In this case, millions of tonnes of coal are shipped to the site annually by river barge. No coal trucks clog up roads here! To escape life’s pressures, rivers offer the perfect answer.
Why are rivers important?
Since the beginning of civilization, rivers have been the fascinating center point of our history. Rivers of many sizes occur in the USA and UK. The volume of water carried, even in the smallest, is astonishing. This relatively small river transports a road tanker’s load of water every second. In times of flood, that can become as many as five tankers every second. Rain seems the obvious reason rivers continue to flow day in and day out, but days or even weeks can go by without any rainfall.
The land that a river drains is called the catchment. A river of this size could collect the rain that falls on an area of several hundred square kilometers. The amount of rainfall varies significantly from place to place. From only half a meter a year in Southeast England to four meters a year in Scotland. The amount also varies throughout the year.
The world’s lakes and flowing rivers constitute 1% of the planet’s water. The fresh water in rivers is vital to all land-based life. But population pressures are putting major waterways under stress. Rivers provide drinking water and water for agricultural purposes. Since the beginnings of human civilization, rivers have been used for transport, and cities have grown on their banks.
Importance for Transportation
Rivers are an integral part of the water cycle where fresh water falls as rain or snow. It flows to the oceans to evaporate by the sun’s warmth, forming clouds that release rain. All plant and animal life depends on this cycle. Africa’s river Nile is the longest in the world. Since ancient times the Nile has been a lifeline for the people and animals at 6,800 kilometers. Ten countries share the Nile.
The Nile water agreement of 1929 granted Egypt the lion’s share of the Nile waters. Lake Victoria is the source of the White Nile. It is the most extended branch of the Nile. It’s the world’s largest tropical lake and is an important transport hub for Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.
Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Congo, Sudan, and Egypt rely on the Nile for transportation and agriculture. The Egyptian capital Cairo sits on the banks of the Nile. Because of the treaty, it can veto any upstream irrigation plans that could threaten the Niles levels.
South America has an in-depth system of rivers and lakes that go surprisingly far inland. Bolivia can have a Navy if they don’t get on Brazil’s. However, some water waves are considered international passageways, and ships traveling through them under normal conditions cannot be taxed or blocked. It is most noble in Europe, where a lot of landlocked.
The most important river in Europe is the Danube which starts in Germany and flows through Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria. It provides many countries with an essential link to the Black Sea and the North Sea. Rivers canals connect the world’s waterways and give otherwise landlocked countries access to the ocean from the San Juan River and Nicaragua to the Nisha River in all these countries.
Importance for Agriculture
Over 95% of Egypt’s water comes from the river, and most Egyptians live in the Fertile Nile Valley. However, it makes up only 4% of Egypt’s available land. The country’s population is growing, so Egypt’s water needs will increase.
An adequate water management system is essential for crops to attain their full potential. It allows for proper soil composition and optimal root development, maximizing plant strength and nutrient uptake. Many countries are dependent on irrigation systems.
The key visible features of a water management system include the outlet, a ditch or stream to carry excess water away, and a buffer strip to shield the stream from overland soil erosion. In the Middle East, the importance of rivers has been seen since the dawn of civilization in Egypt.
The Nile was everything as it provided the source of transportation and water for agriculture. Mesopotamia means the land between the rivers, specifically the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. However, nearby Saudi Arabia is the largest country globally, with no rivers. So they are dependable for food and other agricultural product.
Importance for Civilization
During the Paleolithic Age, the First Wave of Civilizations occurred roughly between 3500 B.C.E. and 600 B.C.E.. Humans mostly lived in small bands as Hunter-Gatherers. After adopting farming, Humans moved into the Neolithic Era and settled into larger communities. Around 3500 B.C.E., the first evidence of human societies organizing themselves into more significant civilizations.
In advanced civilizations, there is a surplus of food due to agriculture. Therefore not everyone is needed to produce or gather food. This allows some people to focus on doing other specific jobs, like making tools or blacksmithing. Governments in advanced civilizations also made it possible to finance and organize large-scale public works projects, such as irrigation projects, Monumental Architecture, and the Pyramids of ancient Egypt.
It makes sense that because water is necessary for life and agriculture, the earliest civilizations all began near significant rivers. The earlier FIRST WAVE Civilizations all had some or all of these characteristics.
Mesopotamian civilization began near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East. The region was also referred to as the FERTILE CRESCENT. Several kingdoms ruled during this era, the Nile starting with the Sumerians.
A notable achievement of the Sumerians was developing a system of writing known as CUNEIFORM. After the Sumerians came to the Akkadian Empire, one of the earliest examples of Literature, THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH, a poem about an ancient Sumerian king, was produced.
Following the Akkadians were the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires. The most well-known Babylonian King, King Hammurabi, developed one of the earliest written laws known as HAMMURABI’S CODE. Another First Wave Civilization, around 3000 B.C.E., was Ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptian Civilization arose along the Nile River in Northern Africa.
Like the Mesopotamians, they also developed a writing system known as HIEROGLYPHICS. They also had a strict Social Hierarchy and organized religion. At the top of the Social Pyramid were the Pharaohs, or kings, followed by priests, scribes, or record keepers, and at the bottom of the hierarchy were the peasants. Egyptian pharaohs organized the construction of pyramids and large-scale irrigation systems.
Heading east into present-day Pakistan, along the Indus River, the Indus River Civilization arose between 3300 B..E. and 1800 B.C.E. Not much is known about the Indus Valley civilization. Still, archaeologists have discovered the remains of two major urban areas, the ancient cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. These cities showed evidence of extensive urban planning, including indoor plumbing.
Mysteriously, the civilization appears to have abruptly disappeared around 1800 B.C.E. Hinduism’s cultural and religious practices began to emerge in this region during this period. Hinduism has continued to be a part of life in South Asia even to this day. We will discuss the last of the First Wave River Valley Civilizations in Ancient China.
Civilizations began to emerge along with the Yellow or Huang He River and Yangtze Rivers around 2000 B.C.E. Three kingdoms, the Xia, Shang, and Zhou, established ruling dynasties. These civilizations established long-standing traditions in Chinese society. One of these was the “ MANDATE OF HEAVEN.”
These civilizations, Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Indus, and Ancient China, developed along major rivers and demonstrated various characteristics of advanced civilizations, including organized governments and religions, urbanization, advanced tools and knowledge, large construction projects, and writing systems.
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