Why Do Rivers Flow North?

North Flow Rivers

Do rivers always flow from the north to the south? While some people think that rivers always flow from north to south on a map, rivers always flow downhill with gravity unless modified by humans. On maps, there are countless examples of rivers that flow from the south to the north, such as the Ob River in Russia.

For the Nile River, the elevation in Africa is highest near the equator, the middle of the continent, and it becomes less or goes downhill. So in the Nile River’s case, it flows from the south to the north. For many people, that means it flows backward. So remember, no matter if rivers flow from south to north or north to south, rivers always flow downhill.

Why Do Rivers Flow North? (Scientific explanation)

Many rivers in this world flow north and connect with the ocean. There are mainly three rivers in the world that flows north. These are the Nile River of Africa, Lena River of Russia, and St John’s River of the US. Why are there not many north-flowing rivers?

No matter the river, it always flows downhill due to gravity. But an average elevation is always higher in the northern part of the country than in the southern part, making the river flow towards the south.

No matter where the river is, it will always flow towards the least resistance path and downhill. But it is more likely for the part of the river to be east, west, and south than the part of the river being not only due to geography. Take an example of India. There is not even a single north-flowing river that entirely flows north. But some rivers like Chambal Dam flow not only for a short distance but join the river Ganga, which flows towards the east.

Which river flows north?

Many rivers flow north. Here is the list of rivers that flow north:

  • Nile, Northeastern Africa: 4258 miles
  • Lena River, Russia: 2735 miles
  • Magdalena River, Colombia: 949 miles
  • Mojave River, US: 110 miles
  • Ob River, Russia: 2268 miles
  • Athabasca River, Canada: 765 miles
  • River Bann, Northern Ireland: 80 miles
  • Richelieu River, Canada: 77 miles
  • St. Johns River, US: 310 miles
  • Willamette River, US: 187 miles
  • Yenisey River, Russia: 2136 miles
  • Bighorn River, US: 185 miles
  • Cauca River, Colombia: 600 miles
  • Deschutes River, US: 252 miles
  • Essequibo River, Guyana: 630 miles
  • Fox River, US: 202 miles
  • Genesee River, US: 157 miles
  • Red River, US, and Canada: 318 miles

The Nile River is one of the most geopolitically significant waterways globally. It’s the lifeblood of Egypt and runs through ten African countries, providing a regular source of conflict over water rights and distribution. About 99% of Egypt’s 83 million inhabitants live along the narrow sliver of green belt on each bank of the Nile River, covering about 22,000 square miles from the US one high dam to the Mediterranean shore.

The river is also a significant source of geopolitical contention through much of Central and East Africa. The larger of the two tributaries, the Blue Nile, originates in Ethiopia and the White Nile originates in the Great Lakes region, making it the world’s longest river. Cooperation among the Nile River states varies widely, and each seeks water usage for agriculture, domestic and industrial uses, and the right to build dams for hydroelectric power.


Know more about rivers:

Why Do Rivers Flow In One Direction?

Why Do Most Rivers Flow South?

Importance Of Rivers

How Do Rivers Form?

Why Do Rivers Curve?

Julia Rose

My name is Julia Rose. I'm a registered clinical therapist, researcher, and coach. I'm the author of this blog. There are also two authors: Dr. Monica Ciagne, a registered psychologist and motivational coach, and Douglas Jones, a university lecturer & science researcher. I would love to hear your opinion, question, suggestions, please let me know. We will try to help you.

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