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The Rivers Portal


Elwha River in the Olympic Peninsula

A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually a freshwater stream, flowing on the Earth's land surface or inside caves towards another waterbody at a lower elevation, such as an ocean, sea, bay, lake, wetland, or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground or becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of water. Small rivers can be referred to by names such as creek, brook, and rivulet. There are no official definitions for these various generic terms for a watercourse as applied to geographic features, although in some countries or communities, a stream is customarily referred to by one of these names as determined by its size. Many names for small rivers are specific to geographic location; examples are "run" in some parts of the United States, "burn" in Scotland and Northeast England, and "beck" in Northern England. Sometimes a river is defined as being larger than a creek, but not always; in English the language is vague compared to some languages like French, where a fleuve flows into the sea and a rivière is a tributary of another rivière or fleuve.

Rivers are an important part of the water cycle. Water from a drainage basin generally collects into a river through surface runoff from precipitation, meltwater released from natural ice and snowpacks, and other underground sources such as groundwater recharge and springs. Rivers are often considered major features within a landscape; however, they actually only cover around 0.1% of the land on Earth. Rivers are also an important natural terraformer, as the erosive action of running water carves out rills, gullies, and valleys in the surface as well as transferring silt and dissolved minerals downstream, forming river deltas and islands where the flow slows down. As a waterbody, rivers also serve crucial ecological functions by providing and feeding freshwater habitats for aquatic and semiaquatic fauna and flora, especially for migratory fish species, as well as enabling terrestrial ecosystems to thrive in the riparian zones.

Rivers are significant to humankind since many human settlements and civilizations are built around sizeable rivers and streams. Most of the major cities of the world are situated on the banks of rivers, as they are (or were) depended upon as a vital source of drinking water, for food supply via fishing and agricultural irrigation, for shipping, as natural borders and/or defensive terrains, as a source of hydropower to drive machinery or generate electricity, for bathing, and as a means of disposing of waste. In the pre-industrial era, larger rivers were a major obstacle to the movement of people, goods, and armies across regions. Towns often developed at the few locations suitable for fording, building bridges, or supporting ports; many major cities, such as London, are located at the narrowest and most reliable sites at which a river could be crossed via bridges or ferries. (Full article...)

View of Elder Park, the Riverside Precinct and the Torrens Lake, before construction of the pedestrian bridge in 2014.

The River Torrens /ˈtɒrənz/ (Karrawirra Parri / Karrawirraparri) is the most significant river of the Adelaide Plains. It was one of the main reasons for the siting of the city of Adelaide, capital of South Australia. It flows 85 kilometres (53 mi) from its source in the Adelaide Hills near Mount Pleasant, across the Adelaide Plains, past the city centre and empties into Gulf St Vincent between Henley Beach South and West Beach. The upper stretches of the river and the reservoirs in its watershed supply a significant part of the city's water supply.

The river is also known by the native Kaurna name for the river—Karrawirra Parri or Karrawirraparri (karra meaning redgum, wirra meaning forest and parri meaning river), having been officially dual-named in 2001. Another Kaurna name for the river was Tarndaparri (Kangaroo river). The river was thought to be a reflection of the Milky Way ("wodliparri"), and was the heartland of the Kaurna people, who lived along its length and around the tributary creeks. (Full article...)
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I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river is a strong brown god—sullen, untamed and intractable. — T. S. Eliot, "Four Quartets," in The Dry Salvages

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Photograph: Lviatour

Dordogne in Perigord, south-western France, near Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

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Tagus River
Tagus River
Photograph: David Iliff
The Tagus River, seen here passing through the World Heritage listed city of Toledo, Spain. It is the longest river on the Iberian Peninsula at 1,038 kilometres (645 mi). It begins its journey in the Albarracín mountains in Spain, and follows a very constricted course for much of its length before reaching the Atlantic Ocean in Portugal.



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