views updated Jun 11 2018

Nile Longest river in the world, flowing c.6700km (4160mi) from the Kagera headstream, e Burundi, to its Mediterranean delta in ne Egypt. The Kagera flows generally n before emptying into Lake Victoria. The Victoria Nile flows from Lake Victoria to Lake Albert in Uganda. From Lake Albert to the Sudanese border, it is called the Albert Nile. It continues to flow n through the s Sudanese swamps as the Bahr el Jebel. From Malakâl to Khartoum the river is called the White Nile. At Khartoum it converges with the Blue Nile. As simply the Nile, the river continues to flow n to the Egyptian border. It then flows into the man-made Lake Nasser, created by the damming of the river at Aswan. From Aswan, the river flows through Luxor to Cairo. n of Cairo is the Nile Delta, Egypt's largest agricultural area. The Nile empties into the Mediterranean at Damietta and Rosetta. As well as supporting the agriculture of Egypt and Sudan, the Nile is used for transport, hydroelectricity, and tourism.


views updated May 23 2018


NILE , river in N.E. Africa. The Nile is the lifestream of the civilizations flourishing in the valley bordering it. If the river is too high or too low in one year, disaster and famine follow in the next. Indeed, the ancient Egyptians saw in the yearly inundation the annual renewal of the first act of creation, the rising of the primeval mound out of the primordial ocean. From the correct observation of this yearly flooding, which enriched the fields of the lower Nile Valley with the fertile black alluvial soil, developed much of the later civilization of the pharaohs, and particularly the 365-day calendar. Unquestionably, the Egypt of the pharaohs was "the gift of the Nile." The Hebrew word for the Nile, יְאוֹר, is a loan word from the Egyptian ʾitrw ("river") which by the period of the Middle Kingdom came to designate the Nile as the river par excellence.

Although the name Nile is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, it is alluded to as "the river" (Gen. 41:1; Ex. 2:3), the "river of Egypt" (Gen. 15:8), the "flood of Egypt" (Amos 8:8), Shihor (Josh. 13:3), brook of Egypt (according to some, but see *Egypt, Brook of), river of Cush, and many more. The Nile plays a prominent part in the early stories of the Exodus (Moses, Ex. 2:3; the ten plagues, 7:15, 20; et al.), and is used by the prophets as the symbol of Egypt (Amos 8:8; 9:5; Jer. 46:8).

[Alan Richard Schulman]


views updated May 18 2018

Nile a river in eastern Africa, the confluence of the Blue Nile and the White Nile, which flows northwards through Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean, and which is the longest river in the world; the search to discover the true source of the Nile was pursued by a number of 19th-century explorers. It was in the course of such a journey that David Livingstone (see Dr Livingstone, I presume) was for a time lost.

Nile is one of the oldest geographical names in the world, and comes via Latin from ancient Greek, and probably ultimately from Semitic–Hamitic nagal ‘river’. It was called Ar or Aur ‘black’ by the ancient Egyptians, referring to the colour of the sediment when it is in full flood.