focus on refugees Introduction
People and Rivers
Case Study: Bangladesh
Case Study: The Amazon
introduction header

harry click hereto find out some fascinating facts about rivers.
Did you know that three quarters of our planet is covered in water? Most of it (almost 97%) is in the seas and oceans - and we can't drink it. Do you know why? jack
cecile Of course, it's because it's salty - did you know that?
So that means that there's only 3% we can drink then! harry
jack Not exactly, Harry. Most fresh water is frozen in icebergs and glaciers, or locked up underground in the rocks. In the end we have a very small amount to share amongst all the people in the world, less than 1%. Most of that flows in our rivers and streams.
Find out more about the water cycle by visiting

© Fred Hoogervoorst/Panos Pictures

Think of it this way Harry, if all the water of the world was placed in a one-litre bottle, only one teaspoon would be fresh water for drinking! cecile
harry That's not a lot of water to go round, is it?
I know. It's amazing that we don't run out of water! In fact, we have to re-cycle a lot of it. Just think, the water you are drinking today could have been watering fields or producing energy last week! cecile
jack But we should remember that water is a precious resource, and should not be wasted. If we ran out of water all life would come to an end. Do you remember what it was like when we had a water shortage?
I remember, we couldn't water the garden or wash the car. I did offer not to have a bath, but Mum still made me! harry
cecile My friends told me about the time they had no water. They had to go to standpipes in the road with buckets and containers to collect enough to use for the day. They soon got tired of carrying it. Luckily, the pipes were mended quickly.

Many places in the world are not as fortunate as us. In some of the drier parts of Africa, children often have to help their parents by walking many miles to collect water. Some countries in the Middle East are facing the threat of no water because neighbouring countries are building dams and cutting off the supply of water. jack

©Bradley Arden/Panos Pictures.

cecile So we shouldn't take water for granted! Why don't you have a go in persuading people to save water by taking part in our competition?
Look at these names, can you tell what they have in common?
Yangtze, Zaire, Mekong, Volga, Orinoco, Danube (click on the question mark for the answer) click here
cecile Using this table about rivers, can you help Harry complete his homework?
to download a word version of the table , then choose 'print' from the file menu.

River Continent Length (km) Drainage area (square km) Countries passed through
Nile Africa 6,695 2,881 Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan
Amazon South America 6,439 7,180 Brazil
Yangtze Asia 6,376 1,970 China
Mississippi/Missouri North America 6,019 3,221 USA
Volga Europe 3,530 1,380 Russia
Murray/Darling Oceania 2,570 1,072 Australia

© Luiz C. Marigo/Still Pictures


The longest river in the world is the and it is in the continent of . One of the countries it flows through is . The longest river in South America is the . It is km less than the Nile. But it is the largest river in the world, draining an area of square km. The river is the longest river in and drains an area of square km. It reaches the coast at New Orleans, on the southeast coast of USA. It is 499 km than the Amazon. The river that passes through China, the , is km long, so it is the longest river in the world. Australia's longest river is the , which is 2,570 km long. This is km shorter than the Nile. It drains an area of square km, which is almost 900 square km less than the Yangtze. The last continent, , has a river that flows for 3,688 km through Russia. The Volga, at km is 960 longer than Oceania's river but 2,909 km less than the Amazon.

jack Click on the 'Get my score' button to see if you got the right answers.

Phew! Thanks for helping me. I would never have got it finished on my own! Now go to the next page to find out how we use rivers. harry
top People and Rivers
h="61" height="41" border="0" alt="top"> People and Rivers