World Facts

Countries That Do Not Have Rivers

Many countries around the world lack rivers. Malta and those on the Arabian Peninsula do, however, have wadis.

A river is a large, natural stream of water flowing into a sea, lake, or ocean, or joining with another river. Rivers have a myriad of uses depending on their sizes and geographical locations. The culture of the people along the river also play a significant role in determining the main use of the river. Big rivers like Amazon and Mississippi are used for navigation as they are big enough to accommodate ships. Other uses include industrial use, agriculture, production of power and also for religious purposes. In some cases, they also act as tourist attraction sites. However, some countries do not have rivers particularly those in the Arabic peninsula. The area is a desert and instead of rivers there are wadis. A Wadi is a valley or channel that is always dry apart from the rainy seasons. In this article, we will discuss some of the countries that lack rivers and how this has affected them.


Kuwait is a unitary, constitutional, monarchical, state located in the southwestern region of Asia. The country experiences very low levels of rainfall, and only 0.5% of its land mass is considered arable. There is a big wadi known as Wadi al Bati which also serves as the border between the country and Iraq. However, the Wadi is not able to cater for the country’s domestic water use. The government has invested heavily in desalination of sea water. The first desalination plant in the country was established back in 1954. In 1965, a Swedish company was contracted to establish a modern distillation plant for Kuwait City which is the nation’s capital. Currently, the country ha six plants supplying fresh water for drinking and other domestic use to the citizens of Kuwait. Other sources of water include underground water and treated wastewater effluents.


Monaco is a small unitary parliamentary republic situated along the French Riviera. The total area of the country is only 0.78 square miles and a population of 35,352 people. The country has no rivers and is largely based on tap water. The land is small, and hence there are no much agricultural activities that take place in the nation. The main income earner is tourism. The country has a huge number of tourists attracted to the island by the sea sports, climate, and casinos. The country is one of the richest in the world having most billionaires per capita and the lowest unemployment and poverty rates globally. The casinos are only for visitors, and the locals are denied access.

Saudi Arabia

The country is a unitary Islamic absolute monarchy and republic found in the southwestern region of Asia. It has a total area of 830,000 square miles with only 0.7% of it being occupied by water. Saudi Arabia gets most of their water supply from desalinated water from the sea. 59% of the water comes from Desalinated seawater while 40% comes from underground water while the rest 10% comes from surface water. In 2010, the country decided to introduce desert farming by the use of underground water. Underground water is non-renewable, and by 2012, the country had finished around 80% of the water. The nation depends on the extraction of oil to fuel its economy. Petrochemicals make up 80% of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and more than 90% of the country’s exports.

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is an absolute monarchy and a federation in the southeastern portion of the Arabian Peninsula. The country is located in a desert and experiences low rainfall on an annual basis. There are two main sources of water in the country. Drinking water comes almost entirely from desalinated sea water while the underground water is used for agriculture. The economy of the country is not highly dependent on agriculture but oil. In 2003, the government initiated an artificial water recharge program near Liwa Oasis to ensure greater water security.

Other Countries Lacking Permanent Rivers

Most of the countries in the Arabian Peninsula lack rivers due to their dry desert climates. The technology of desalinating water has played a vital role in providing water to the inhabitants of these areas. Other notable countries without rivers include Bahrain, Bahamas, Bermuda, Yemen, and others listed in the table below.

Countries That Do Not Have Permanent Rivers
British Indian Ocean Territory
Cayman Islands
Christmas Island
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Easter Island
Marshall Islands
Norfolk Island
Pitcairn Islands
Saint Barthélemy
Saint Martin
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates
Vatican City
Wallis and Futuna

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