15 Interesting Facts about the Congo River

In these post, we wrote down 15 interesting facts about the Congo River in order to explain its importance and introduce its physical characteristics.

  1. The Congo is the second longest river in Africa after the Nile river.

We all know that there is no comparison to the Nile river. It is the longest river on our planet. Therefore, it has to be the longest in the African continent as well.

In the world ranking, the Congo river stands at only 9th ranking with its 2,920 miles (4700 km) length.

  1. The Congo river is also known as Zaire river.

The name Congo is named after the Kongo kingdom, and the name was preferred among English speakers. However, locals also call it Zaire. The word Zaire was adopted from the local word “nzere” by Portuguese.  It simply means “river” in the Kongo language.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the river was known as Zaire. In the 18th century, its name gradually changed into the Congo river. The Republic of Zaire, which existed between 1971 and 1997, was named after the river.

  1. The Congo is the deepest river in the world.

Its deepest spot measured to be 720 ft (220 m). In order to get an idea about its depth, visualize the Equity Tower in Indonesia or 57-floor The Pano building in Thailand. Because, these two buildings are 220 meters tall, and their peaks will be slightly visible if placed in the deepest spot of the Congo river.

  1. The Congo is the only river which crosses the equator twice.

The Equator is the imaginary line that divides our planet into the northern and southern hemispheres. Roughly a half circle shape of the Congo river leads it to cross the line twice (look at the map below).

The Congo River
A map of the Congo River
  1. The Congo river is the second largest in the world after the Amazon river by its volume of water.

An average volume of water in rivers mostly calculated by their discharge levels (or water flow rate). An average discharge volume in Congo river is about 1,454,964 cubic feet per second (41,200 cubic meters per second).

  1. The river flows through the Congo rainforest, the second largest in the world after the Amazon rainforest.

Interestingly, the Congo river has some similarities to the Amazon river, although these two rivers located on totally different continents. Both of them flow through the largest rainforests, and both got the highest discharge levels. Congo and Amazon rivers locate near the equator. That geographic location can be a simple explanation for their similarities because rainfalls are frequent near the equator.

  1. The Congo River has the potential to generate 13% of global hydropower.

This means that the Congo River has a potential to generate enough hydropower to cover the electricity needs of entire Sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, there are over 40 hydropower stations on the river basin. The two largest ones are Inga I and Inga II dams which are generating about 1,776 MW electricity.

  1. The river houses over 700 species of fish. That is very rich compared with any other rivers in Africa.

Although the Congo river is not fully studied yet, the discovery of an unusually high number of fish species proves that the river has a rich aqua-life. The dominant fish species are carp (Cyprinids), elephantfishes (Mormyridae), African tetras (Alestidae), squeaker catfishes (Mochokidae), and cichlids (Cichlidae).

  1. Diogo Cao was the first European explorer who sailed in the Congo river.

The Portuguese explorer, Diogo Cao, came to the Congo region in 1482. During the exploration, Diogo came to contact with the Kingdom of Kongo.

  1. The Congo river formed about 1.5 to 2 million years ago.

That means that the formation of the Congo river started in the Pleistocene period. That was the period when the most parts of the planet were covered with ice.

Scenery of the Congo River
A scenery of the Congo River




  1. The tributaries of the Congo river flows in Angola, Zambia, Tanzania, Central African Republic, and Cameroon.

One of the largest tributaries of the Congo river is the Ubangi river which flows into the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

  1. The Congo river flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

The river discharges about 50,000 cubic meters of water per second into the Atlantic ocean.

  1. Joseph Conrad, a Polish-English writer, wrote about a voyage up the Congo River in his famous novel, Heart of Darkness.

The book tells the story about the civilizations around the Congo river and eventful experiences of the fictional narrator Charles Marlow. Joseph Conrad wrote the novel 8 years after returning from Africa, and he used his personal diaries as inspiration.

  1. Inga is the largest waterfall in the Congo river.

Although Inga Falls causes a navigational barrier in the Congo river, it still has a huge economic impact on the region. The site includes two large dams, Inga I and Inga II, which are generating an outstanding amount of hydropower. And, two more hydropower stations, Inga III and Grand Inga dams, are projected to be built in the site.

  1. The Congo river is the crucial transportation route in Central Africa.

About 9000 miles (14500 km) of the Congo river, including all the streams, are navigable. Thousands of people travel on the ships daily, and a huge amount of goods are being transported through shipping lines.

Congo river ships

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By Arslan Batyrovich

Founder of
Writer, Researcher, Fact-finder, and All-in-one
Loves nature, Likes history, and Adores anything interesting
To get tailored writing or to work with, contact at [email protected]

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