Uncovering The Secrets Of The Nile I Oxford Open Learning

    The Nile

    Uncovering The Secrets Of The Nile

    Two seemingly unremarkable river tributaries, the White Nile – which originates in South Sudan – and the Blue Nile – which starts in Ethiopia – join together in the Sudanese city of Khartoum to form one of the most famous rivers in the world. A staggering 6,695km in length, the Nile passes through 11 countries in north-east Africa before it reaches the Mediterranean Sea.

    The Nile As Lifeblood of Egypt

    The Nile is of vital importance in particular to Egypt, where more than 95% of the population lives within a few miles of its banks, depending utterly upon its waters for many aspects of daily life in the hot and dry Egyptian climate. What’s more, the roots of ancient Egyptian civilization can in fact be traced back to the Nile: 5,000 years ago, Egyptian people started building villages next to the river, which provided them with a crucial source of freshwater in the otherwise arid desert landscape. The Nile flooded each summer, with the floodwater carrying nutrient-rich soil onto the land, providing essential fertile farmland and enabling the ancient Egyptians to grow food and crops. The Nile also provided vital transportation links, and the banks of the river supplied reeds, which were used to make important everyday items including papyrus – the first form of paper.

    Although the Nile is still critical to daily life in north-east Africa, it no longer floods each August. Since the completion of the construction of the mighty – and controversial – Aswan High Dam across the Nile in 1970, the flow of river water can be controlled during the former flooding season, with the resulting reservoir providing a supply of water during droughts.

    Nature And Climate Threat

    As well as people, many fish, birds and other types of wildlife, including turtles, river snakes and the famous Nile crocodile, rely on the river for their existence. However, climate change presents a huge threat to the Nile and its dependants, with potentially devastating consequences for human life and wildlife in the surrounding area. While there is debate over the exact nature of the long-term impacts of climate change on the river, it is likely that the area around the Nile will in future be subject to more extreme, more frequent and longer dry seasons. The water levels may decrease in the upper parts of the Nile as the world warms up, and an increase in sea levels could cause saltwater from the sea to flood into the mouth of the river and surrounding area, which would devastate wildlife and cause a loss of vital freshwater around the Nile Delta.

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