There are hundreds of rivers on Earth’s surface, moving freshwater from hills and mountains down to larger rivers, lakes, and oceans.
Thanks to the planet’s natural slopes and ridges, falling rain that isn’t absorbed by soil or evaporated also ends up in nearby rivers. This area—where all flowing surface water converges—is called a river basin, drainage basin, or watershed.
These maps by Adam Symington show the world’s many rivers and major river basins, using the HydroSHEDS database and broken down by continent.
Mapping River Basins By Continent
North and Central America have many different river basins, but a few major rivers stand out.
To the North, Canada’s Mackenzie River runs from British Columbia through the Northwest Territories and ending up at the Arctic Ocean.
Of course, the Mississippi River and the Missouri River which flows into it both stand out as well, draining water from much of the U.S. to the Gulf of Mexico.
A few rivers and basins also start in the U.S. and end up in Mexico, including the Rio Grande from Colorado to Tamaulipas. Further south in Central America and the Caribbean, most of the basins don’t have major rivers and empty into the nearby oceans.
It’s well-known that the Amazon River is the largest river in the world by volume and the second largest by length.
Likewise, its reach and impact can be seen in these maps. The Amazon basin is the largest river basin in the world with (Read more...)