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Facts about the Congo River For Kids

The Congo River is a river in Africa, and is the deepest river in the world, with measured depths in excess of 720 ft. Additionally, its overall length of 2,920 mi makes it the ninth longest river. The Congo gets its name from the ancient Kingdom of Kongo which inhabited the lands at the mouth of the river.

  • Between 1971 and 1997 the government of then-Zaire called it the Zaire River.
  • The Congo’s drainage basin covers 1,550,000 sq mi.
  • The Congo’s discharge at its mouth ranges from 810,000 cu ft/s to 2,600,000 cu ft/s, with an average of 1,400,000 cu ft/s.
  • The river and its tributaries flow through the Congo rainforest, the second largest rain forest area in the world, second only to the Amazon Rainforest in South America.
  • Because its drainage basin includes areas both North and South of the equator, its flow is stable, as there is always at least one part of the river experiencing a rainy season.
  • The Congo flows generally northwards from Kisangani just below the Boyoma falls, then gradually bends southwestwards, passing by Mbandaka, joining with the Ubangi River, and running into the Pool Malebo.
  • Kinshasa and Brazzaville are on opposite sides of the river at the Pool, where the river narrows and falls through a number of cataracts in deep canyons, running by Matadi and Boma, and into the sea at the small town of Muanda.
  • The Congo River Basin is one of the distinct physiographic sections of the larger Mid-African province, which in turn is part of the larger African massive physiographic division.
  • The river is also potentially valuable for hydroelectric power, and the Inga Dams below Pool Malebo are first to exploit the Congo river.
  • During the rainy season over 1,800,000 cu ft of water per second flow into the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The plan as originally conceived called for the construction of five dams that would have had a total generating capacity of 34,500 megawatts.
  • It is feared that these new hydroelectric dams could lead to the extinction of many of the fish species that are endemic to the river.
  • The bonobo is endemic to the humid forests in the region, as are other iconic species like the Allen’s swamp monkey, dryas monkey, aquatic genet, okapi and Congo Peafowl.
  • Among these ecoregions, the Lower Congo Rapids alone has more than 300 fish species, including approximately 80 endemics while the southwestern part (Kasai Basin) alone has about 200 fish species, of which about a quarter are endemic.
  • 1878: Henry Morton Stanley documented his journey down the Congo River in Through the Dark Continent, first published in 1878.
  • 1902: Although not explicitly cited, the Congo River provides the setting for Joseph Conrad’s 1902 novel Heart of Darkness.
  • 1914: American poet Vachel Lindsay portrays a dark and savage society around the Congo River in his 1914 poem The Congo: A Study of the Negro Race.
  • 1980: The Congo River is featured in a chapter of Michael Crichton’s novel Congo, as well as in the 1995 film based on the book.
  • 1998: The river’s history is discussed in the 1998 book King Leopold’s Ghost.