The Congo River
Henry Morton Stanley was the first European to explore the Congo river from Central Africa to the Atlantic Ocean. The Congo gets its name from the ancient Kingdom of Kongo which inhabited the lands at the mouth of the river. The Congo River is Africa's second longest river, or the world's eighth longest river, at a length of 4700 km. It is also the deepest river in the world with measured depths of 230 m/750 ft. From 1971 to 1997, the Congo River was called the Zaire river by the government of the Zaire. It flows in a counterclockwise arc 2900 miles to the Atlantic Ocean.
The river makes a giant arc across central Africa. It flows to the northwest, west, and southwest before reaching the west coast. It empties into the Atlantic Ocean at the town of Banana, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The river and its tributaries flow through the Congo rain forest. The Congo and one of its tributaries the Ubangi form most of the boundary between the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). The Congo basin is the area of land that is drained by the river the basin includes all of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It also covers parts of the republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Zambia, Angola, Cameroon, and Tanzania. It is impossible to travel the entire length of the river by boat. Several waterfalls block the western end of the river's course. Therefore, river travel begins and ends farther upstream, at the city of Kinshasa.
Many types of birds live near the river and many types of fish live in it. Crocodiles, water snakes, turtles, and hippopotamuses also swim in the Congo's waters. Fishing in the Congo River is an important activity. The river also is a source of electric power. Typical climate in regions through which the Congo flows is in the mid-70s F. Humidity is high throughout the year and annual rainfall amounts to 67 inches. The Congo basin is home to the second largest rain forest in the world. The forest region is bordered on either side by belts of savanna (grassy parkland). The forest and savanna often meet imperceptibly, blending together in a mosaic pattern.