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The Zambezi is the fourth-longest river in Africa. It is also the longest east-flowing river in Africa and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa. The area of its basin is 1,390,000 square kilometers, slightly less than half of the Nile’s.
See the fact file below for more information on the Zambezi River or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Zambezi River worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Zambezi River, also spelled Zambesi, is a river draining a large portion of south-central Africa. Together with its tributaries, it forms the fourth largest river basin of the continent.
- The river flows eastward for about 2,200 miles (3,540 kilometers) from its source on the Central African Plateau to empty into the Indian Ocean. With its tributaries, it drains an area of more than 500,000 square miles (1,300,000 square kilometers).
- The Zambezi (meaning “Great River” in the language of the Tonga people) includes along its course the Victoria Falls that is one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, and the Kariba and Cahora Bassa dams, two of Africa’s largest hydroelectric projects.
- The Zambezi rises out of a marshy bog near Kalene Hill, Zambia, about 4,800 feet (1,460 meters) above sea level, and flows some 20 miles before entering Angola, through which it runs for more than 175 miles.
- In this first section of its course, the river is met by more than a dozen tributaries of varying sizes. Shortly after entering Zambia, the river flows over the Chavuma Falls and enters a broad region of hummocky, sand-covered floodplains, the largest of which is the Barotse, or Zambezi, Plain.
- The region is inundated during the summer floods, when it receives fertile alluvial soils. The main tributaries intersecting the river along the plains are the Kabompo River from the east and the larger Lungué-Bungo (Lungwebungu) River from the west.
- The Victoria Falls mark the end of the upper course of the Zambezi, as its waters tumble with a thunderous roar and an enormous cloud of spray.
- The area around the falls was once covered by a thick layer of lava, which as it cooled formed wide cracks, or joints, that became filled with softer sediments.
- As the Zambezi cut its present valley it encountered one of these joints, eroded the sediment, and created a trench, eventually forcing a gap at the lower end of the trench that quickly widened into a gorge.
- The force of the water also created a second gap at the upper end of the trench that gradually diverted the river until the trench itself was left dry.
- The Zambezi, according to measurements taken at Maramba (formerly Livingstone), Zambia, experiences its maximum flow in March or April.
- In October or November the discharge diminishes to less than 10 percent of the maximum. The annual average flow reaches about 247,000 cubic feet (7,000 cubic meters) per second.
- Measurements taken at Kariba Dam reflect the same seasonal pattern; the highest flood recorded there was in March 1958, when the flow reached 565,000 cubic feet per second.
- Given its numerous natural barriers—sandbars at the mouth, shallowness, and rapids and cataracts—the Zambezi is of little economic significance as a trade route.
- About 1,620 miles of the river, however, are navigable by shallow-draft steamers. The longest stretch of unbroken water runs from the river delta about 400 miles upstream to the Cahora Bassa Dam.
- Above the dam Lake Cahora Bassa is navigable to its confluence with the Luangwa River, where navigation is interrupted again to the Kariba Dam.
- Lake Kariba is navigable, but the river again becomes impassable from the end of the lake to the Ngonye Falls, some 250 miles upstream.
- It is again navigable by shallow-draft boats for the 300 miles between the Ngonye and Chavuma falls and then for another 120 miles above Chavuma.
- The river has four major crossing points. The Victoria Falls Bridge, the first from the head of the river, carries rail, road, and foot traffic between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
- The dam wall at Kariba is heavily used by road traffic, and a road bridge at Chirundu, Zimbabwe also connects the two countries.
- The fourth major crossing is the rail and road bridge between Mutarara (Dona Ana) and Vila de Sena, Mozambique. There are also a number of motor ferries crossing the river at various points.
STUDY AND EXPLORATION
- The first non-Africans to reach the Zambezi were Arab traders, who utilized the river’s lower reaches from the 10th century onward. They were followed in the 16th century by the Portuguese, who hoped to use the river to develop a trade in ivory, gold, and slaves.
- Until the 19th century, the river, then called the Zanbere, was believed to flow south from a vast inland sea that was also thought to be the origin of the Nile River.
- Accurate mapping of the Zambezi did not take place until the Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone charted most of the river’s course in the 1850s.
Zambezi River Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Zambezi River across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Zambezi River worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Zambezi which is the fourth-longest river in Africa. It is also the longest east-flowing river in Africa and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa. The area of its basin is 1,390,000 square kilometers, slightly less than half of the Nile’s.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Zambezi River Facts
- The Tonga
- Fill Me Up
- On Expedition
- Putting a Smile
- Dangerous Stone
- Zambezi Puzzle
- Water Source
- Lakes to Rivers
- A Natural Wonder
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Link will appear as Zambezi River Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 14, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.