North America is the third largest continent by area and fourth largest by population. There are 23 countries found on the continent, but the majority of the continent is made up of Canada and the United States. The continent is bordered by the Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is found to the north-west of South America. North America has many mountain ranges where many rivers begin their journey to lower ground. The longest river on the continent begins in the famous Rocky Mountains.
What is the longest river in North America?
The title of the longest river in North America is the subject of much debate. In terms of length by main stem, the Missouri River is the longest on the continent. It flows for approximately 3,767 km (2,341 mi) from the Rocky Mountains in western Montana to Missouri where it meets the Mississippi River to the north of St. Louis.
Although it is the longest river in North America, it is only the ninth largest in terms of water discharged in the United States. The largest river in this category is the Mississippi, which has an average discharge of over 16,000 cubic meters per second. (almost 600,000 cubic feet per second).
The second longest river by main stem is the Mississippi river at 3,544 km (2,202 mi). These rivers together are called the Mississippi-Missouri River which, if classified as a single river, is the fourth longest in the world.
Did you know?
There are three streams in the Rocky mountains of Montana and Wyoming that come together to form the Missouri river. The longest of these begins on the slope of Mount Jefferson at about 2,800 m (9,100 ft) above sea level.
The drainage for the Missouri river covers 1,300,000 km2, which is more than half a million square miles. This includes parts of two Canadian provinces and 10 U.S. states!