Longest Rivers In Mexico

The Rio Grande in Mexico.
The Rio Grande in Mexico.

Mexico is a federal republic located in the southern part of North America. The United States of Mexico borders the United States, Pacific Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Guatemala, Belize, and the Gulf of Mexico. The country covers a total area of 2 million square kilometers, the world’s 13th largest independent nation. Mexico also includes 6,000 square kilometers of an island within the Pacific Ocean and shares a border with the United States. Mexico’s longest rivers comprise of 26 streams with some rivers crossing the international boundaries into other countries such as the US and Guatemala. The longest rivers in Mexico are looked at below.

Rio Grande

The Rio Grande, or Rio Bravo, is a principle river in the northern areas of Mexico and the southwestern United States. The river arises from the State of Colorado in the US and eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The River measures 1,896 miles and also forms part of the border between Mexico and the US. Due to the high consumption of water by the people living in cities along the river, less than 20% of Rio Grande discharge flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The Rio Grande has twelve tributaries with the largest being Rio Conchos. Parts of Rio Grande, in Texas and The New Mexico, have been designated as National Wild and Scenic Rivers System while the US designated the entire river as American Heritage River. The waters are shared between Mexico and the US under treaties and agreements enforced by International Boundaries and Water Commission.


The Colorado River, similar to the Rio Grande, is also a principal river both in Northern Mexico and the southwestern US, draining arid watersheds covering nine states, including two in Mexico and seven in the US. The river originates from Rocky Mountains in the US and flows through Colorado Plateau, Grand Canyon, Lake Mead in the US, and through Colorado River Delta in Mexico with a total length of 1,450 miles. Most of the Colorado River water is consumed by the large agricultural industries while the river also suffers pollution from the effects of pesticide used by these industries. The river has 25 major tributaries with Green River being the largest by the amount of discharge and the length. Colorado River discharges an average of 20.1 cubic kilometers of water into the Gulf of California annually, translating to an average flow rate of 640 cubic meters per second.


The Usumacinta River flows in the southeastern part of Mexico and the northwestern part of Guatemala, defining part of the border between Mexico’s state of Chiapas and Guatemala. The river, which originates from the junction of Pasion River and Salinas River in Guatemala, enters Mexico through Tabasco State where it forms the Wetland of Centla. Usumacinta River’s total length measures 621 miles and is a favorite destination for archaeologists, travelers, birders, and tourists. The river is home to diverse biodiversity including large reptiles, several species of birds, and hundreds of plant species. Usumacinta River has also offered a crossing border for Guatemala refugees getting into Mexico. The wildlife around the river has been threatened by illegal logging, poaching, and looting.

Shared Waters and Environmental Threats

Along with the Usumacinta River, Mexico also shares the Grijalva River with Guatemala. The Grijalva River flows into Usumacinta River in the State of Tabasco, Mexico. The rivers in Mexico have improved the economic lives of people living along their banks. However, pollution and overconsumption are major threats facing rivers in Mexico

The Longest Rivers In Mexico

RankMajor Rivers in MexicoTotal Length
1Rio Grande1,896 miles (shared with United States of America)
2Colorado1,450 miles (shared with United States of America)
3Usumacinta621 miles (shared with Guatemala)
4Culiacán544 miles
5Balsas479 miles
6Lerma466 miles
7Grijalva (Tabasco)379 miles (shared with Guatemala)
8Nazas348 miles
9Río Conchos348 miles
10Pánuco311 miles

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