Major Rivers of Ethiopia | Ethiopia About Ethiopia (2023)

Ethiopia has nine major rivers and twelve big lakes. Lake Tana, for example, in the north is the source of the Blue Nile. However, apart from the big rivers and major tributaries, there is hardly any perennial flow in areas below 1,500 m. While the country’s annual renewable freshwater potential is 122 billion m3, only 3 percent of this amount remains in the country. It is estimated that 54.4 billion m3 of surface runoff and 2.6 billion m3 of groundwater can be developed for utilization. Currently less than 5 percent of surface water potential is used for consumptive purposes.

Blue Nile makes about 80% by volume of the Great Nile River. The Blue Nile from Ethiopia originating form Lake Tana and the White Nile that originated form Lake Victoria merge into the Great Nile River at Khartoum, the Sudan capital to form the longest river of the world draining to the Mediterranean Sea.The Blue Nile Falls is one of the most popular tourist destination sites along the historic route. The Blue Nile Falls is situated near Tis-Abay town, 30 kms to the east of Bahir Dar, which is 20-30 minutes walk from the little town of Tiss Abey.

The Blue Nile flows generally south from Lake Tana and then west across Ethiopia and northwest into Sudan. Within 30 kilometres (19mi) of its source at Lake Tana, the river enters a canyon about 400 kilometres (250mi) long. This gorge is a tremendous obstacle for travel and communication from the north half of Ethiopia to the southern half. The power of the Blue Nile may best be appreciated at Tis Issat Falls, which are 45 metres (148ft) high, located about 40 kilometres (25mi) downstream of Lake Tana.

The distance from its source to its confluence is variously reported as 1,460 and 1,600kilometres (907 and 1,000 miles). The uncertainty over its length might partially result from the fact that it flows through a series of virtually impenetrable gorges cut in the Ethiopian Highlands to a depth of some 1,500 metres (4,900ft) - a depth comparable to that of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River in the United States.

Although there are several feeder streams that flow into Lake Tana, the sacred source of the river is generally considered to be a small spring at Gish Abbai, situated at an altitude of approximately 2,744 metres (9,003ft). This stream, known as the Lesser Abay, flows north into Lake Tana. Other affluents of this lake include, in clockwise order from Gorgora, the Magech, the Northern Gumara, the Reb, the Southern Gumara and the Kilte. Lake Tana's outflow then flows some 30 kilometres before plunging over the Tis Issat Falls. The river then loops across northwest Ethiopia through a series of deep valleys and canyons into Sudan, by which point it is only known as the Blue Nile.

(Video) River Basins in Ethiopia

The Omo River tumbles its 350 -kilometer way through a steep inaccessible valley before slowing its pace as it nears the lowlands and then meanders through flat, semi-desert bush eventually running into Lake Turkana. Since 1973, the river has proved a major attraction for white-water rafters. The river passes varied scenery, including an open gallery forest of tamarinds and figs, alive with colobus monkeys. Under the canopy along the riverbanks may be seen many colorful birds. Goliath herons, blue breasted kingfishers, white-cheeked turacos, emerald-spotted wood doves and red-fronted bee-eaters are all rewarding sights while monitor lizards may glimpse scuttling into the undergrowth. Beyond the forest, hippos graze on the savannah slopes against the mountain walls, and waterbuck, bushbuck and Abyssinian ground hornbills are sometimes to be seen.

The Baro River

The Baro Riveris a river in southwestern Ethiopia, which defines part of Ethiopia's border with South Sudan. The Baro river is created by the confluence of the Birbir and Gebba Rivers, east of Metu in the Illubabor Zone of the Oromia Region. From its source in the Ethiopian Highlands it flows west for 306 kilometres (190mi) to join the Pibor River. The Baro-Pibor confluence marks the beginning of the Sobat River, a tributary of the White Nile.

The Baro and its tributaries drain a watershed 41,400km2 (16,000sqmi) in size. The river's mean annual discharge at its mouth is 241 m³/s (8,510 ft³/s).[2]

(Video) Social study rivers of Ethiopia

The only navigable river in Ethiopia. The Baro River area, accessibly by land or air through the western Ethiopia town of Gambela, remains a place of adventure and challenge.

Awash River

Major Rivers of Ethiopia | Ethiopia About Ethiopia (1)

The Awash River is a major river of Ethiopia. Its course is entirely contained within the boundaries of Ethiopia, and empties into a chain of interconnected lakes that begin with Lake Gargori and end with Lake Abbeon the border with Djibouti, some 100 kilometers (60 or 70 miles) from the head of the Gulf of Tadjoura. It is the principal stream of an endorheic drainage basin covering parts of the Amhara, Oromia and Somali Regions, as well as the southern half of the Afar Region.

The Awash rises south of Mount Warqe, west of Addis Ababa in the woreda of Dandi, close to the town of Ginchi, Mirab (West) Shewa Zone, Oromia. Thence the Awash flows south to loop around Mount Zuqualla in an easterly then northeasterly direction, passing the Awash National Park, and joined on its left bank by its chief affluent, the Germama (or Kasam) River, before turning completely east to reach lake Gargori.

(Video) Great Information | Facts about Ethiopia’s Nile Basin Rivers

According to materials published by the Ethiopian Central Statistical Agency, the Awash River is 1200 kilometers long.

Tekeze River

The Tekeze River, is a major river of Ethiopia. For part of its course it forms a section the westernmost border of Ethiopia and Eritrea. The river is also known as the Setit in Eritrea, western Ethiopia, and eastern Sudan. According to materials published by the Ethiopian Central Statistical Agency, the Tekezé River is 608 kilometers (378mi) long. The canyon which it has created is the deepest in Africa and one of the deepest in the world, at some points having a depth of over 2000 meters (6,562 feet).

The Tekeze River rises in the central Ethiopian Highlands near Mount Qachen within Lasta, from where it flows west, north, then west again, forming the westernmost border of Ethiopia and Eritrea from the confluence of the Tomsa with the Tekeze to the tri-point between the two countries and Sudan. After entering northeastern Sudan,the Tekeze joins the Atbarah River, the lower course of which is a tributary of the Nile. The Tekeze is perhaps the true upper course of the Atbarah, as the former follows the longer course prior to the confluence of the two rivers.

The names of its main tributaries in Ethiopia from its source are: on the right bank Tahali, Meri, Tellare, Sullo, Arekwa, Gheoa, Wari, Firafira, Tocoro and Gumalo Rivers; on the left bank Nili, Balagas, Saha, Bembea, Ataba, Zarima, and Kwalema Rivers.

(Video) Ethiopia River Basins

Shebelle River

Major Rivers of Ethiopia | Ethiopia About Ethiopia (2)

The Shebelle River, also known asWebi Shabeelle river,begins in the highlands of Ethiopia, and then flows southeast into Somalia towards Mogadishu. Near Mogadishu, it turns sharply southwest, where it follows the coast. Below Mogadishu, the river becomes seasonal. During most years, the river dries up near the mouth of the Jubba River, while in seasons of heavy rainfall, the river actually reaches the Jubba and thus the Indian Ocean.

The Shebelle river is 1130 kilometers long, extending for 1000km inside Ethiopia and 130km inside Somalia.

Angereb River

The Angereb also known as the Bahr as-Salam is a river of Ethiopia and eastern Sudan, and one of the sources of the Nile. It rises near Daqwa, north of Gondar in the Amhara Region, flowing west to join the Atbarah River.

(Video) Tekeze River Ethiopia imagery map video Aerial view

Mereb River

The Mereb River (or Gash River), is a river flowing out of central Eritrea. Its chief importance is defining part of the boundary between Eritrea and Ethiopia. the Mereb River is 440 kilometres (270mi) long. The Ethiopian Ministry of Water Resources reports its Ethiopian catchment area as 5,700 square kilometres (2,200sqmi), with an annual runoff of 0.26 billion cubic meters. Other sources talking about a catchmant of 21,000 square kilometres (8,100sqmi) to 44,000 square kilometres (17,000sqmi) over all, and a discharge of 21.6 cubic metres per second (760cuft/s) in average over the year, and 870 cubic metres per second (31,000cuft/s) in peaks. Its headwaters rise south-west of Asmara in central Eritrea. It flows south, bordering Ethiopia, then west through western Eritrea to reach the Sudanese plains near Kassala. Unlike the Setit or Takazze rivers, which flow out of Ethiopia and also forms a natural border with Eritrea, the waters of the Mareb do usually not reach the Nile but dissipate in the sands of the eastern Sudanese plains.

The Mareb is dry for much of the year, but like the Takazze is subject to sudden floods during the rainy season; only the left bank of the upper course of the Mareb is in Ethiopian territory. Its main tributaries are the Obel River on the right bank (in Eritrea) and the Sarana, Balasa, Mai Shawesh, and 'Engweya Rivers on the left (in Ethiopia).

FAQs

How many major rivers does Ethiopia have? ›

Ethiopia has twelve lakes and nine major rivers with several tributaries.

What major river flows through Ethiopia? ›

The Nile is formed by three principal streams: the Blue Nile (Arabic: Al-Baḥr Al-Azraq; Amharic: Abay) and the Atbara (Arabic: Nahr ʿAṭbarah), which flow from the highlands of Ethiopia, and the White Nile (Arabic: Al-Baḥr Al-Abyad), the headstreams of which flow into Lakes Victoria and Albert.

What are the major characteristics of Ethiopia rivers? ›

General Characteristics of Ethiopian Rivers

Almost all major rivers originate from the highlands elevating more than 1500 meters above sea level,  Majority of Ethiopian rivers are trans-boundary,  Due to the marked seasonality of rainfall, Ethiopian rivers are characterized by extreme seasonal fluctuation.

What is major river? ›

Seven major rivers (Indus, Brahmaputra, Narmada, Tapi, Godavari, Krishna and Mahanadi )along with their numerous tributaries make up the river system of India. Most of the rivers pour their waters into the Bay of Bengal.

Which is the largest river in Ethiopia? ›

Blue Nile makes about 80% by volume of the Great Nile River. The Blue Nile from Ethiopia originating form Lake Tana and the White Nile that originated form Lake Victoria merge into the Great Nile River at Khartoum, the Sudan capital to form the longest river of the world draining to the Mediterranean Sea.

How many rivers are there? ›

There are 8 major river systems in India, with more than 400 rivers in total. Rivers play an important role in the lives of the Indian people due to their crucial importance in sustenance and their place in Indian religions.

Why Blue Nile is called Blue? ›

The Blue Nile is so-called because during flood times the water current is so high that it changes color to almost black; in the local Sudanese language the word for black is also used for blue.

What are 10 facts about the Nile river? ›

Top 15 Astonishing facts about the River Nile
  • The River Nile is believed to be the longest river in the world. ...
  • River Nile passes through 9 African Countries. ...
  • River Nile was sacred to ancient Egyptians. ...
  • The annual floods make the banks of the River Nile very fertile. ...
  • There are two other Nile Rivers.
Aug 2, 2022

What makes Ethiopian rivers and lakes important? ›

Some of the lakes and their influent rivers are used for irrigation, soda abstraction, fish farming and recreation, and also support a wide variety of endemic birds and wild animals. Ethiopia's major mechanized irrigation farms and commercial fishery are confined within the Rift region.

What are the major bodies of water in Ethiopia? ›

The Ethiopian Rift Valley Lakes
  • The Ethiopian Rift Valley Lakes. Lake Tana. ...
  • Lake Ziway. ...
  • Lake Langano. ...
  • Lake Awassa. ...
  • Lake Afdera and Asale.

How many river basins are there? ›

There are 20 river basins/draining areas, large and small, in India. The Ganga basin is the largest. Narmada river is the fifth largest river and is also the largest west flowing river. Narmada basin has been shown at index 15 in the basin map.

Where does the Awash River start and end? ›

Awash River is located in the central Rift Valley in Ethiopia. The river emerges from the central highlands 150 km west of Addis Ababa and flows via the central Rift Valley to Lake Abbe on the border with Djibouti (Edossa et al., 2010).

How many rivers are there? ›

There are 8 major river systems in India, with more than 400 rivers in total. Rivers play an important role in the lives of the Indian people due to their crucial importance in sustenance and their place in Indian religions.

What are the major bodies of water in Ethiopia? ›

The Ethiopian Rift Valley Lakes
  • The Ethiopian Rift Valley Lakes. Lake Tana. ...
  • Lake Ziway. ...
  • Lake Langano. ...
  • Lake Awassa. ...
  • Lake Afdera and Asale.

How many reservoirs does Ethiopia have? ›

List of dams and reservoirs
ReservoirCoordinatesTotal reservoir size [km3]
Kessem9.150°N 39.883°E0.5
Koka Lake8.468°N 39.156°E1.9
Koysha (fr)6.584°N 36.565°E6
Legedadi9.068°N 38.962°E0.044
25 more rows

How many mountains are in Ethiopia? ›

There are 1948 named mountains in Ethiopia. The highest and the most prominent mountain is Ras Dashen.

Videos

1. Rev. Chris Christian | BEYOND THE RIVERS OF ETHIOPIA | 5 MINUTES PHILOSOPHY
(Rev Chris Christian)
2. Geography of Ethiopia and the Horn: Chapter four Part 1; Major Drainage system in Ethiopia
(Absera studio | አብሰራ)
3. FROM BEYOND THE RIVERS OF (CONTINENTAL) ETHIOPIA/AETHIOPIA
(አቡነ ማር ዘአገዘቶ ጽዮን በርኅራኀኃ)
4. Ethiopia says it needs Blue Nile water to help its people
(Al Jazeera English)
5. Beyond The Rivers of Ethiopia
(No1_ Raison D' Être)
6. Aerial view of Blue Nile River in Ethiopia
(Namaste World)
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