What is a Confluence River?

Confluence of the Neman and Neris rivers in Kaunas, Lithuania.
Confluence of the Neman and Neris rivers in Kaunas, Lithuania.

A confluence is a river which is formed when two or more rivers combine to form a single channel of water. The confluence formed can be as a result of two smaller rivers joining to form one channel or two rivers separated by a strip of land upstream that rejoin downstream.

Confluence Zones

There are six distinct zones of hydrodynamics of a confluence river. These features are the stagnation zone, flow detection zone, flow separation zone, maximum velocity zone, and the shear layers zone. These zones are also called confluence flow zones and they are quite distinct from each other. 

Notable Confluences in Africa

Throughout the world, there are distinguishable confluences and others that are not but they are still essential. In Africa, confluences are found in West, Southern, and North African states. For example, in West Africa, the Benue River flows and joins the Niger River at Lokoja area to form a confluence. In Southern Africa, Chobe River flows into the famous Zambezi River in Zambia. In Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, a confluence is formed when the White Nile joins with the Blue Nile.

Notable Confluences in Asia

The Euphrates and Tigris rivers join to form a confluence in the town of Al Qurnah Southern Iraq. In India, the Ganges River owes its existence to the confluence formed by Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers. In addition, near the town of Allahabad, the Yamuna River flows into the Ganges and it is the site for Hindu Pilgrims who stop to take ritual baths. Across the border into China, the mighty Yangtze River is joined by the Jialing River. Also in China, the Amur River acts as the international boundary with Russia. In Laos, the Nam Khan River converges with Mekong River.

Notable confluence in Europe, South America, and North America

Germany is home to the Rhine River which forms a confluence with Ruhr at the city of Duisburg as does the Main river which flows into the Rhine at Mainz. Across the Atlantic Ocean to North America, the Mississippi River forms a confluence when Ohio River converge at Illinois. Also in the state of Utah, the Green River that starts in Utah converges with Colorado River. In South America, the Amazon River forms a confluence with Rio Negro in the city of Manaus, Brazil.

Roles of Confluences

Such rivers play important roles in society today as they did in the past, serving as religious shrines for taking ritual baths and offering sacrifices at the temples built close by. Politically, such rivers act as boundaries between nations, cities, and provinces. Public parks, important monuments, and buildings are built around these rivers to enhance their beauty and appeal.


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