A river is a permanent body of running water. The United Nations recognizes 193 countries, some of which host impressive rivers like the Amazon and Mississippi. In fact, some countries have a network of more than 1,000 rivers. For example, Russia has approximately 100,000 rivers, which is more than any other country in the world. Rivers are important sources of livelihood, as they provide water, and are important sources for fish and hydroelectric powers. Additionally, rivers such as the Amazon attract thousands of tourists annually. However, 17 countries do not have any rivers.
Groups of Countries Without Rivers
Countries in the Desert
Many countries without rivers are covered primarily by desert. These countries experience arid and semi-arid climates, with little or no rainfall throughout the year. The riverless countries in this category include Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, which is the largest country without a river. Other countries include Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Yemen, and Qatar. Most of these countries have river beds that may flood from time to time, but do not have permanent running rivers.
Island countries is another category of countries without rivers. Riverless countries in this category include the Bahamas, Malta, Maldives, Nauru, and Comoros. Island countries are either too small to accommodate the flow of a river or do not have a landform high from which a river can flow. Comoros is one of the smallest countries in the world, with an area of 785 square miles. Although it receives a lot of rain, the steep mountains and low hills are not high enough to form the source of a river. The terrain of the Bahamas is also low and flat, with a high point of 207 feet. In Malta, some small rivers can form during the rainy season, but are not permanent. There is also no lake in Malta. In addition to having no rivers, Nauru is the least populated sovereign country in the world.
Island Cluster Countries
Some island countries are scattered over several atolls, making it difficult for a meaningful and permanent river to form and flow. Countries in this category include Kiribati, which includes more than 32 atolls, the Marshall Islands, which has 29 atolls, and Tuvalu, which boasts of an area of approximately 10 square miles.
Monaco and the Vatican, the two smallest countries in the world, are also riverless countries. The Vatican is located in Rome, Italy, with no river passing through it, despite the many rivers in Italy.
Sources of Water for Riverless Countries
Countries without rivers have alternative sources of water. Some of the riverless desert countries have wadis, which are temporary channels of water that flow mainly during the rainy season but are dry most part of the year. The governments of some countries, such as Kuwait, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, attempt to desalinate seawater to make it usable. Monaco, which has one of the most developed economies of all riverless countries, relies heavily on tap water.