The Nile is the longest African river which, with its 6,852 km.
From the sources to the Delta the Nile crosses seven African countries: Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan del Sud, Sudan and Egypt, but her hydrographic basin includes portions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Until a few years ago it was considered the longest river in the world for contending for the primacy of the length at the Rio delle Amazoni.

The word nile comes from the Greek word nèilos (νεῖλος), which means “valley of the river”. In the Egyptian language, the Nile is called Iteru, which means great river, represented by the hieroglyphics shown to the left (literally itrw).
In Coptic language, the words Piaro or Piaro meaning the river (letter p (h) .iar-o il.canale-Grande) come from the same ancient name.

Geographical characteristics –
Although the collective imagination usually focuses on the delta that leads to the Mediterranean Sea, it is important to note how the Nile crosses a large slice of the African continent. With an extension that occupies about 10% of the entire Africa and a water basin that touches eleven African states, the Nile and its waters are crucial for the stability and development of the region, and the existence of 45% of the population of the continent.
The Nile basin, with its lakes and tributaries, is shared between Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Ruanda, Kenya and Democratic Republic of the Congo. The river was born from the union of the Nile Bianco, emissary of Lake Vittoria in Uganda, with the Nile Azzurro, which originates in Ethiopia.
The Nile consists of two large confluent branches, the white Nile and the blue Nile; The latter contributes with a greater contribution of water and fertile silt, but the first is the longest. The Bianco Nile was born conventionally from the Vittoria Lake to Jinja, Uganda, but its sources go to Rwanda and Burundi; He then flows north in Uganda and southern Sudan. The blue Nile, on the other hand, was born conventionally from Lake Tana, Ethiopia, and flows through the south-eastern Sudan. The two rivers meet and blend in the Southwarm Khartum capital.
The northern course of the river flows almost entirely through Sahara, from Sudan to Egypt, a country whose civilization has depended on the river since ancient and more remote times. Most of the Egyptian population and all its cities (with the exception of those located along the coast) are located along the Nile Valley north of Assuan, and almost all the historical and cultural sites of ancient Egypt are long The banks of the river.
In the end the Nile branches out in a large delta and flows into the Mediterranean Sea. His number of Strahler is 10.

Historical notes –
The Nile is closely linked to the development of ancient Egyptian civilization, with most of the population and cities located in the valley north of Assuan. The Nile has been vital for Egyptian culture since the stone age. The climate change and the progressive unwary of the pastures and those lands of Egypt who gave life to the Sahara, already in the 8000 BC. Presumably they pushed the inhabitants to migrate to the river, where they then developed sedentary agriculture based on the fertilization of the territory thanks to the silt and a more centralized society.
Every year the river exceeded the bed and overwhelmed the neighboring territories; The waters retired in November, returning to the bed, and left on the fields a layer of dark and extremely fertile mud (silt).
Along the Nile Valley, the peasants have cleverly exploited the flood of the Nile, organizing remediation works to the detriment of marshes and marshes.
The Egyptians were therefore able to cultivate wheat and other crops, obtaining food to support the food needs of the population. Furthermore, the introduction by the Persians of the buffaloes in the seventh century BC which sought wet environments and with the presence of water, in addition to camels, represents an excellent source of meat.
The buffaloes were also domesticated and used for plowing, while camels as somoma animals. The water was therefore vital for both people and cattle. The Nile also allowed an efficient transport system.
In addition, the waters of the Nile River refuge to numerous species of animals and plants. The fertile swampy areas constituted a true paradise for hunters, especially when the waters of the flood retreated. The birds were hunted on the banks of the river, using networks and boomerangs.

Ecosystem –
Over the centuries the areas around the Nile have become increasingly arid, dragging with itself populations and changing the characteristics of the ecosystem, increasingly desert, moving away from the banks of the river.
To this change, partly physiological and linked to the cyclical climatic trend of the planet, today is added a much more dangerous one which is that of the quality of the waters of the Nile river.
In fact, today pollution from heavy metals, the erosion of the coast and the rise of the sea water threaten the survival of the delta del Nilo, an ecosystem on which the life of 60 million people and many migratory birds depends.
The alarm is launched by a study published by the University of Southern California in the magazine Earth’s Future of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).
Egypt is the most populous and arid land downstream of the Nile: the river represents the only source of drinking water and for the irrigation of crops. The country must currently face one of the highest water deficit in Africa, after decades passed to compensate for the decrease in water supply with intensive and large -scale reuse of waste water, whose consequences have so far been underestimated.
So the civilization that has thrived in a spectacular aquatic landscape for over 7,000 years must face the reality of this irreversible environmental degradation on a large scale.
The picture of the situation emerges from the analysis of the samples of sediments collected by two arms of the Nile Delta. The results highlight a strong presence of heavy metals such as cadmium, nickel, chromium, copper, lead and zinc. Contaminants come mainly from the unrelated agricultural drainage and urban and industrial waste water. Without adequate recycled water treatment, the concentrations of heavy metals increase and are permanently incorporated into the river bed, unlike the organic pollutants that degrade over time. The concentration of heavy metals could grow further due to the increase in large dams built upstream, which interrupt the natural flow of the river reducing their ability to eliminate the contaminants by pouring them into the Mediterranean.

Flora –
With an area occupied for 97% by desert areas, the only flora observable in Egypt is located on the banks of the Nile. Only in the oasis can fruit trees be found, such as orange, dating palm trees, figs, lemons and many others.
In some points of the banks there is the Egyptian lotus and, almost everywhere, reeds.

Fauna –
As for the fauna of the Nile, surely and to mention the famous Nile crocodile, while in the desert that surrounds the river they can meet camels, jackals, snakes and other species that have adapted to life in arid environments.
Returning to the banks of the Nile you can see many species of birds several of which use this river for the long migratory routes between the south and the north of the hemisphere.
However, over the centuries the longest river in the world has seen an increasing population installation on its banks, which has led to the development of an original fauna and flora. Today in the waters of the Nile the cat fish, the Nile Persics and the Tilapies live mainly. The ornithological fauna is also very present. Aironi guardabuoi, martin fishermen, uprues, canelele and water hens divide the territory. In the southern part of Egypt, Lake Nasser is populated, among others, by crocodiles and turtles with a soft armor.

Environmental safeguard actions –
Nile water is a precious resource, all the more in the arid areas of Africa. In the north oriental area of the continent, the Nile is undoubtedly the greatest source of supply.
The use of its waters has been regulated by treated since the times of colonial domain. The first is dated 1902, the next 1929: very similar to each other, the two texts, signed by Egypt and England – as a spokesperson for the colonized Sudan – guaranteed the Egypt a privileged position. In particular, the 1929 agreement granted Egypt the possibility of using 48 billion cubic meters of water, while in Sudan it guaranteed only 4 billion. In addition, Egypt could veto on all decisions that concerned infrastructure construction projects in the Nile basin that could have given them damage.
Since 1959, the old Treaty has been replaced by an agreement between Egypt and the now independent Sudan: the new text provides for a regulation very similar to that drawn up in the colonial period.
The agreements for the protection of this complex ecosystem are still weak, mainly linked not only to the quantity but also to the quality of the nile waters.
As mentioned, the pollution from heavy metals is largely irreversible, as the researchers explain, but the conservation measures on a scientific basis suggested by some studies could slow down the environmental degradation by promoting the recovery of the ecosystem.

Guido Bissanti

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