1850 map showing the comparative length of the world's rivers and lakes

1850 map showing the comparative length of the world’s rivers and lakes. It includes a list of rivers and lakes at the bottom

4306 x 5581

‘The main oddity with the Mississippi-Missouri system is that the Missouri is the longest of the two by a good long bit – the main reason that the Mississippi is considered the main river is really just because European mapmakers discovered it first.

However, even when the whole thing is measured from the Missouri’s headwaters – where it should be measured from, strictly speaking – it’s still shorter than the Amazon and Nile, although by a lot less than when it’s measured from the Mississippi’s headwaters.

Mainly, people tend to get excited when they realize the screwy way that the Mississippi’s length is usually reckoned, or sometimes just simply add the two rivers together. This map is old, too, and the interior of Africa wasn’t that well explored, so the precise length of the Nile probably wasn’t actually known’

1850 map showing the comparative length of the world's rivers and lakes

1850 map showing the comparative length of the world’s rivers and lakes. It includes a list of rivers and lakes at the bottom

4306 x 5581

‘The main oddity with the Mississippi-Missouri system is that the Missouri is the longest of the two by a good long bit – the main reason that the Mississippi is considered the main river is really just because European mapmakers discovered it first.

However, even when the whole thing is measured from the Missouri’s headwaters – where it should be measured from, strictly speaking – it’s still shorter than the Amazon and Nile, although by a lot less than when it’s measured from the Mississippi’s headwaters.

Mainly, people tend to get excited when they realize the screwy way that the Mississippi’s length is usually reckoned, or sometimes just simply add the two rivers together. This map is old, too, and the interior of Africa wasn’t that well explored, so the precise length of the Nile probably wasn’t actually known – so by what people knew at this point, the considerably better-surveyed Missouri probably was the longest river of all.

(And that may also be a factor – the modern idea that the Mississippi is the longest river may very well still percolate from a time when that was an entirely reasonable conclusion.)’

Water catchments of Australia

Water catchments of Australia

4018 × 3242

‘This is incredible. I love the way there are so many large catchment areas in the east of the continent however once you get in to the west it is all broken up into tiny sections … Tiny?! Some of those catchment areas are still the size of Belgium … Thank you kind sir for using my country as a measuring reference … For some reason, unknown to me, us Aussies use Belgium a lot when referring to the size of portions of Australia. I don’t get it, but that just happens … Belgium is probably the most well known, culturally significant country that’s extremely small.

It’s a good benchmark. Everyone knows about Singapore but everyone also knows that it’s basically just a city. Not everyone knows about Luxembourg and Lichtenstein.

But Belgium was a coloniser, and went to war with other European countries. It’s a big deal, so it feels meaningful to say “we’re so massive you could fit Belgium into one of our cattle stations”.’

River basins of North Dakota

River basins of North Dakota

3386 × 1993

‘I’m always fascinated when I drive between Jamestown and Valley City on I-94 and I see that big marker, “CONTINENTAL DIVIDE”. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, in a flat expanse.

Get up to a place like Harvey where the James and Sheyenne come within 10 miles of one another. Perfectly walkable over mild terrain. And yet, the waters in each river diverge, never to cross again, destined to end up on complete opposite ends of the continent. Incredible …. There’s a creek in Wyoming which splits (which is rare enough, rivers typically don’t do that), with one part flowing to the Atlantic and the other flowing to the Pacific’

River basins of Germany

River basins of Germany

980 × 1385

‘This is awesome. Each one of those big, and sometimes smaller ones, has an amazing cycle path running along it if you’re into long bike rides and camping out. I’ve done most of the stuff in the southwest because i live there so this is interesting to see where to go next when its safe to get back out on the roads’–youwutnow