The world’s longest river (the Nile) is located in Africa, as is the world’s deepest river (the Congo). In addition to these two record-breaking rivers, the continent is also home to many other major rivers, many of which have lengths exceeding 2000 km.
The Top 20 Longest Rivers in Africa
(1) Nile – 6650 km (4130 miles)
Still believed to be the longest river in the world (although some think this title should belong to the Amazon River), the Nile flows through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi. It empties out into the Nile Delta (Mediterranean Sea).
Learn more about the Nile.
(2) Congo – 4700 km (2900 miles)
The Congo River used to be called the Zaire River. It is the world’s second-largest river in terms of discharge volume. It is also the deepest river in the world. The Congo flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
Learn more about the Congo.
(3) Niger – 4184 km (2600 miles)
The River Niger is West Africa’s main river. It flows through Benin, Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria, and it empties out into the Atlantic Ocean in the Gulf of Guinea. It is also known as the Fula, the Zarma, the Nupe, and the Igbo.
Learn more about the Niger.
(4) Zambezi – 2574 km (1599 miles)
The Zambezi River is the longest east-flowing river in Africa. It flows through Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe. and Mozambique. It empties out into the Indian Ocean.
Learn more about the Zambezi.
(5) The White Nile – 3700 km (2300 miles)
Along with the Blue Nile (see below), the White Nile is one of the key tributaries of the Nile (see above). Its name refers to the white colour of its water caused by clay deposits.
If the headwaters of Lake Victoria are attributed to the White Nile, the river has a length of 3700 km.
(6) Orange River – 2432 km (1511miles)
The Orange River is South Africa’s longest river. It flows through Lesotho, South Africa, and Namibia, and it flows into Alexander Bay (Atlantic Ocean). It is named after the Dutch ruling family, the House of Orange.
(7) Ubangi-Uele – 2270 km (1410 miles)
The confluence of the Uele River and the Mbomou River marks the beginning of the Ubangi River. The combined length of the Ubangi-Uele is 2270 km, and it flows into the Congo River (see above).
(8) Kasai – 2153 km (1338 miles)
Like the Ubangi-Uele River (above), the Kasai River is also a tributary of the Congo River (also above). The Kasia basin is mostly made up of rainforest, and the river flows through Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
(9) Shebelle / Jubba – 1820 km (1130 miles)
The length of the River Shebelle (also known as the Shebeli River) varies depending on whether it is a wet or dry year. During periods of peak rainfall, it joins the Jubba River and flows into the Indian Ocean. When rainfall is scarce, the Shebelle doesn’t reach the Jubba, and it disappears into marshland and a series of sand flats to the northeast of the Jubba. It flows through Ethiopia and Somalia.
(10) Kwango – 1800 km (1100 miles)
Also known as the Cuango, the Kwango River is the largest left-bank tributary of the Kasai River (see above). It flows through the countries of Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
(11) Limpopo – 1750 km (1090 miles)
The Limpopo River flows east from South Africa, through Botswana and Zimbabwe before emptying into the Indian Ocean (Gaza Province, Mozambique).
(12) Okavango – 1700 km (1100 miles)
The Okavango River is located in southwest Africa. It flows through Anglo, Namibia, and Botswana. It doesn’t empty out into the sea, instead, its mouth is the Okavango Delta, an inland delta located in the Kalahari Desert.
(13) Volta – 1500 km (930 miles)
The Volta River is Ghana’s major river. It flows into Ghana from Burkina Faso. It empties out into the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean).
(14) Vaal – 1458 km (906 miles)
Located in South Africa, the Vaal River is the Orange River’s largest tributary. Its source is near Breyten in the province of Mpumalanga. It is South Africa’s third-longest river (after the Orange River and the Limpopo River.
(15) Blue Nile – 1450 km (900 miles)
The Blue Nile is one of the Nile’s major tributaries. It flows through Ethiopia and Sudan and merges with the White Nile to form a main branch of the Nile River at Khartoum in Sudan.
(16) Benue – 1400 km (870 miles)
The Benue River is a tributary of the Niger River (see above). It flows through Cameroon and Nigeria, and during the summer months, nearly its whole length is navigable. I used to be called the Chadda River.
(17) Lomami – 1280 km (800 miles)
Located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Lomami River is a tributary of the Congo River (see above). Its source is in the south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and it joins the Congo River at Isangi.
(18) Sankuru – 1200 km (756 miles)
Located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sankuru River is a major tributary of the Kasia River (see above). It is known as the Lubilash River above the point of confluence with the Mbuji-Mayi River.
(19) Draa – 1100 km (684 miles)
The Draa (also known as the Dra, the Darha, or the Dara), is Morocco’s longest river. It flows from the Atlas Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the year, the course of the river downstream of Tagounite runs dry.
(20) Senegal – 1086 km (675 miles)
Located in West Africa, much of the border between Senegal and Mauritania is marked by the course of the River Senegal. It also flows through Mali, before emptying out into the Atlantic Ocean.
Visit our Rivers page to learn more about other record-breaking rivers.