Large River Basin

Large River Basin

Hundreds and maybe even thousands of rivers flow across the countries and continents of the world. While they are beautiful to look at, take a swim in and float across on a boat, have you wondered what it is that fills a river with water? To understand these beautiful and magnificent bodies of water, we need to first understand what a river basin is.

River basin is the term used to refer to an extent or surface of land that collects water and drains it into a corresponding river or any of its tributaries. To picture a river basin, think of a large basin or bowl on the surface of the land. Due to various forces such as the force of gravity, water is pushed into this large river basin, down its sides and to the bottom of the bowl, forming a body of water down there. This water then finds its way to a river through the medium of streams or creeks.

How Does a Large River Basin Work?

Water is produced by nature through rain or melting snow from the mountains. This water runs or flows downhill and collects into a large river basin. Consequently, the river basin is then drained into bodies of water. These bodies could be lakes, reservoirs, estuaries, rivers, seas or oceans. The river basin is therefore known to include not just the rivers and streams that transport water but also the surface of land where the water originally accumulated and drained. A drainage divide separates large river basins that are adjacent to each other.

In other words, it could also be said that a large river basin has the functionality of a funnel. Since the water is all collected into a single area making up the basin and then it is channeled into various water bodies, a funnel is the best way to describe a river basin. Sometimes, many a large river basin may be geologically present adjacent to each other. In such cases, it is usual to find some kind of division between them such as mountains, hills or ridges. These are also known as water divides.

Additional Information on Large River Basins

A river basin is also known by several other terms. Some of these terms are catchment basin, water basin or drainage basin. There are certain kinds of basins that do tend to drain water particularly into oceans but only into seas and lakes. These are otherwise known as endorheic basins. Some of the largest river basins located around the world are:

  • The Amazon river basin
  • The Congo river basin
  • The Mississippi river basin


Of these, the Amazon and the Congo rivers are two among the three rivers in the world that drain the most water.

A lot of information regarding large river basins can be found through the use of maps and atlases. Additionally, there are many websites, books and encyclopedias that have exhaustive information about rivers and river basins in various parts of the world.



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