A common misconception about rivers is that they all flow south. Perhaps some people think that all rivers flow toward the equator or that rivers like to flow down toward the bottom of north-oriented maps.
Whatever the source of this misunderstanding, the truth is that rivers flow downhill due to gravity. No matter where a river is located, it will take the path of least resistance and flow downhill as rapidly as possible. Sometimes that path is south but it is just as likely to be north, east, west, or some other direction in between.
There are countless examples of rivers flowing northward. Some of the most famous are the world’s longest river the Nile, along with Russia’s Ob, Lena, and Yenisey. The Red River in the US and Canada and Florida’s St Johns River also flow north.
In fact, rivers that flow north can be found all around the world. Athabasca River (Canada), River Bann (Northern Ireland), Bighorn River (US), Cauca River (Colombia), Essequibo River (Guyana) are one of the few examples.
The most famous river that flows north is also the longest river in the world — the Nile, which passes through 11 different countries in northeastern Africa. It flows north through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. Since ancient times, the Nile has provided sustenance and support to the people who live along its banks. Herodotus, a Greek historian, referred to Egypt as ‘a gift of the Nile’. In fact the great Egyptian civilization would not have been able to prosper without it.
Of Russia’s mighty rivers — including the Ob, the Lena, and the Amur — the Lena is one of the longest, from the Baikal Mountains to the Arctic Sea. The river stretches through Siberia known for its harsh climate. Some historians believe the revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, after being exiled to Siberia, took the name Lenin after the Lena River. The river’s floodplain is known for its snow forests and tundra.
St Johns River
The St Johns River is the longest river in Florida, US, running up the eastern coast of the State from St Johns Marsh to the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way, the river drops only 30 feet in elevation, which is why it flows so slowly. The river feeds into Lake George, the second largest lake in Florida. The earliest people to live along the river were likely the hunter-gatherers known as Paleo-Indians, who inhabited the Florida Peninsula over 10,000 years ago. Later, the area was home to native tribes, including the Timucua and the Seminole. French and Spanish settlers arrived in the 16th century. It was Spanish missionaries who later established a mission named San Juan del Puerto (St John of the Harbour), giving the river its name.
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