Major Rivers Of Tanzania

An African Elephant in Tanzania's Rufiji River.
An African Elephant in Tanzania's Rufiji River.

Tanzania is an East African nation located between Kenya and Mozambique along the coast of the Indian Ocean. The country covers an area of 947,300 square kilometers. Tanzania’s expansive landscape is covered by scenic lakes and rivers. Some of the major rivers that run across Tanzania are the Nile, River Congo, River Rufiji, and River Ruvuma.

White Nile

The White Nile is one of the two major tributaries to the Nile, Africa’s longest river. The river flows from Lake Victoria in Uganda and covers a length of 2,299 miles. River Kagera which passes near Bukoba in Tanzania and pours into Lake Victoria is said to be the most distant source of the Nile. White Nile flows northward to Sudan where it joins with the Blue Nile to form the world famous River Nile. The White Nile passes through five countries and the whole river Nile passes through ten countries in total. The river is a major source of livelihood for the people that live on the banks of the river.


The Congo River is the world’s deepest river, reaching depths of up to 220 meters. It covers a length of 2,920 miles making it the second longest river in Africa. Its sources are Lake Tanganyika and the Highlands in northeastern Zambia. Congo River tributaries flow through Zambia, Tanzania, Central African Republic, and Cameroon. The river basin is inhabited by diverse animals such as water snakes, hippos, crocodiles, and tortoises. The surrounding area is covered by grasslands where buffaloes, gazelles, and zebras graze. The Congo River supports the people who live on its banks. Fishing and farming are the main activities along the river basin. Congo River is shared among nine countries in total. Additionally, the river is famous for hydroelectric power generation with over 40 hydroelectic power stations found along the river.


The Ruvuma River, which flows from southeastern Tanzania and drains into the Indian Ocean, covers a length of 497 miles. Part of the river forms the border between Tanzania and Mozambique. Its chief tributaries include the Lucheringo, Lugenda, Muhuwesi, and Lumesule rivers. It flows through an arid plateau to the north and passes through several cataracts. The Unity Bridge constructed across the river is in Mozambique on one end and Tanzania on another end. Its construction began in 1975, but it was abandoned due to insufficient funds. The Bridge was completed in 2010. The Ruvuma River is managed by the Ruvuma and Southern Coast Basin Water Board.


The Rufiji River is the largest uniquely Tanzanian river, covering much of southern Tanzania. It flows from southwestern Tanzania and drains into the Indian Ocean. It covers a length of 373 miles. Rufiji delta is home to the largest mangrove forest in Eastern Africa. The river is formed at the point where Kilombero and Luwegu Rivers meet. The Great Ruaha River is one of Rufiji’s main tributaries. The river is ideal for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation.

Conservation and Development of Rivers in Tanzania

Tanzania is home to many great rivers which run across its vast landscapes. The rivers provide habitats for multiple plant and animal species. Economic activities such as fishing and farming thrive along some of the rivers. The rivers are also used for hydro-power generation. Conservation agencies are involved in the management of these rivers. Furthermore, Tanzania has signed treaties with neighboring countries to preserve the rivers.

Major Rivers Of Tanzania

RankMajor Rivers of TanzaniaTotal Length
1Nile4,258 miles (shared with 10 other countries)
2Congo2,920 miles (shared with 9 other countries)
3White Nile2,299 miles (shared with 5 other countries)
4Zambezi1,599 miles (shared with 8 other countries)
5Ruvuma497 miles (shared with Mozambique)
6Rufiji373 miles
7Pangani311 miles
8Wami304 miles
9Great Ruaha295 miles
10Malagarasi295 miles (shared with Burundi)

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