Visualizing The World's Watersheds

Nothing is more fundamental to life than water – and this is particularly evident in a country like Egypt, which has been aptly described by Greek historian Herodotus as the “Gift of the Nile”.

In Egypt, an astonishing 95% of the population lives alongside the mighty Nile, which is the world’s longest river at 4,258 mi (6,853 km) and also the only major source of freshwater in an otherwise arid desert landscape.


But as Visual Capitalist's Nick Routley notes, the Nile isn’t alone in creating the right conditions for life. Rivers of all sizes help form the world’s watersheds, and together they comprise a “circulatory system” that pumps life into every corner of the globe.

Today’s stunning maps, via geographer Szűcs Róbert, divide our planet’s watersheds into colorful catchment areas, and provide an informative look at how water flows across continents.

Source: Visual Capitalist


Grade school physics teaches us that liquid water will take the most available path of least resistance. Sometimes though, that most available path can take water from mountains clear across a continent before reaching an ocean.

Source: Visual Capitalist

Nowhere is this more evident than in Peru, home of the glacier-packed Cordillera Blanca. As rain and meltwater begins flowing from the peaks of the Andes Mountains, there are two diverging paths to the ocean.

The journey to the Pacific Ocean is a quick one, and there are small rivers at regular intervals along the coast of Peru.

Because trade winds blow east-to-west in that region, most of the water flows down the eastern side of the Andes, the beginning of a journey across the continent (as demonstrated by the light blue section of Róbert’s South America map.)

Without the Andes acting as a backstop for rain, the Amazon rainforest would not exist in its current scale and form.


Source: Visual Capitalist

In the United States, the dominant drainage basin is the Jefferson-Mississippi-Missouri River system (shown in pink on the map above.) This massive basin collects water from over 40% of the contiguous U.S., and comes into contact with two Canadian provinces and 31 states before terminating at the Gulf of Mexico.


The Amazon discharges far more water than any other river on earth, dumping more water per second into the ocean than the next four largest rivers combined. That makes the Amazon a clear winner in this category.

In terms of drainage area though, the Amazon is not as dominant:

Source: Visual Capitalist

In fact, there are multiple rivers that cover massive drainage areas. This includes the Congo in Africa, as well as the mighty Mississippi, which is neck-and-neck with the Nile.

For more, view the full collection of maps here.


Albertarocks TeamDepends Fri, 07/06/2018 - 21:45 Permalink

7 feet to the kitchen tap.  The tap is connected to the river.  If my tap stops working I'll have to go to my neigbor's house, he's got one.  If they all stop working we'll have to go to tap connected to the beer kegs, either at my house or my neighbor's house.  The guy next door to him has a keg too.  But if all these sources were to go dry we'd have to go to one of the rivers around here or to one of the waterfalls or something.  But in the winter we'd have to go digging under 5 feet of snow to try to find some water.  Not too worried.

In reply to by TeamDepends

toady TeamDepends Sat, 07/07/2018 - 00:08 Permalink

Two springs on the property with ponds, and two wells. (The old was getting a little iffy... sometimes ran a little muddy. The new one is rated at 125 gallons a minute.) One of the best trout streams in the state on the south end of the property, and the largest river in the state about 300 yards north of the property.

Like I said;







In reply to by TeamDepends

SybilDefense cheech_wizard Sat, 07/07/2018 - 03:03 Permalink

Soon enough we will all live next to enough illegal immigrants willing to fetch you water for under the table level wages so that they can send said monies back home to enrich their native economies, as the Dems scare normal people into accepting their policies by using feelings and shaming as opposed to reason.  Don't worry, in a socialist country the government always makes sure everybody has plenty of great everything... two chickens in every garage.

In reply to by cheech_wizard

Theosebes Goodfellow toady Sat, 07/07/2018 - 01:41 Permalink

~I don't know how many preppers still read ZH... it's pretty rare to see much intelligent prepping conversation here anymore. Anyway, if anyone is making a list for a hideaway property the first five entries on list need to be; Water...~

Having made "the jump", here are some insight that may help those considering doing the same.

1.) It's not a "hideaway property". It's a "rural home" in a rural community. Community is everything. If you have some notion that it's going to be you, (and yours), against the world you have a very poor understanding of what it takes to survive real hardship. The faster you make the transition to your new "neighborhood" and start putting down roots, the better prepared you will be to deal with whatever comes. Local rural folk are your support network, not 'them hick peckerheads". Get your head out of your ass.

2.) It is absolutely true that water is vitally important. It does hold the #1 spot on your considerations when looking at a property. But it is secondary in the sense that if you are moving to an area that gets regular rainfall, then the sourcing of water loses it primacy to water capture and storage.


Toady's insistence of the primacy of water holds true if you are settling in the west. When it was time for us to decide where we wanted to land after nearly four decades in California, we chose the southern middle-eastern part of the US due to a number of factors, including cost of land, amount of natural rainfall, lack of hard freezing weather in the winter, low taxes and strong conservative values locally. Farther down the list were our own preferences for housing types, land conditions and local geographical features.

It took us better than 6 months to find the "right property" for us. We looked at over 100 properties before settling on this one. I think we were extremely lucky, plus we had local "eyes on the ground" that helped us search when we could not be in the area. We also cheated, in that we had a travel trailer that served as our mobile command post for when we did get to the area. It wasn't until after we had purchased the house we settled on that I drove back to California to get all my chattel out of storage.

As an aside, when you are starting to pack up your old place before heading out looking for your new one, take a hint from me. Sell just about everything you own. If you haven't picked it up in the last year, you probably don't need it at the new place. I could have saved myself $4000 had I offloaded half of my crap. It depends on how far you are going to transfer to, for us it was over 2000 miles. The things you cannot sell (for lack of a buyer), give away. You won't find a buyer for it at your new neighborhood either.


Here's the last piece of advice:

"Hurry every chance."

The clock is ticking. I do not think it is too late, but it certainly is getting late. I believe that the longer you wait, the harder it may be to make the jump in the future. I may be wrong. YMMV. Good luck, Good fortune!



In reply to by toady

Kit Carson Theosebes Goodfellow Sat, 07/07/2018 - 10:44 Permalink

Ahoy Theo,

There are many smart people posting here but clearly the Bell Curve is exhibited.  Please don't start a "Land Rush" to my neck of the woods as we are happy here with our population density of 23 per square mile.  In a sampling of those 23 are competent persons to help all of us survive living off the land using existing tools and resources.  They are very easy to find and meet.  Just go to any church on Sunday, or a Lions Club meeting, or a Little League get the idea.


There is a dated but useful book (there is always a book) Strategic Relocation by Skousen with some helpful suggestions.  He recommends picking a community more than 10-miles from any Interstate Highway for example and avoiding areas with existing high rural crime rates.

My suggestion is that if you are not going to live full time at your "Retreat" buy crop land you can rent out to a neighbor.  That helps cement your connection to the community and enables you to gain access to an established network of farmers.  Those guys are Boy Scouts, always prepared, and make great friends so long as you respect them.

Theo, if you are my neighbor, stop over any time but let's not invite everybody who reads posts.



In reply to by Theosebes Goodfellow

gearjammers1 Theosebes Goodfellow Sat, 07/07/2018 - 12:45 Permalink

Move back to where your family came from. We lived our entire life up in Illinois without relatives. We're now in Tennessee surrounded by family. The family who lives at the end of our street is related to my grandmother. We're two miles away from a big river (you can see our river on the map). The river here is still unspoilt, we're out in the middle of nowhere. Nobody is going to going to starve here, these are good old anglo-saxons whose first inclination in times of trouble is to protect the town and keep out the neegros.

In reply to by Theosebes Goodfellow

Free This Oh regional Indian Sat, 07/07/2018 - 09:49 Permalink

I was on a mission, for one to establish who I am, and what I stand for! If all you saw was that, then you didn't really read my posts. I am very chill kind sir.

It's drivel to you because you happen no to agree with me, that's your right, I'd die to give you that right.

You just don't understand me, but this is FIGHT CLUB, get used to me! I might even teach you something, and you me, one never knows.

Sic Semper Tyrannis

In reply to by Oh regional Indian

Faeriedust Oh regional Indian Sat, 07/07/2018 - 12:38 Permalink

There have been many other, and equally grievous, sins.  But the one you reference was surely great enough to attract the attention of the Old Gods.  This is the problem with allowing merchants to rule the world: they understand nothing except the gross material, preferably that crossing their palms.  They lack sensitivity to anything less dramatic than a 2X4 cracking against their skulls.  And unlike those of the peasants who are similarly dense, they believe themselves brilliant and constantly use their intellects to cheat and defraud people of less ingenuity but greater virtue.

"I have not increased nor diminished the measure, I have not diminished the palm; I have not encroached upon the fields.
I have not added to the balance weights; I have not tempered with the plumb bob of the balance.
I have not taken milk from a child’s mouth; I have not driven small cattle from their herbage .. ."

Note that all of these sins are typical of businessmen, apparently since history began. 50% of profits are derived from fraud.  And yet our world today is oriented towards the acceptance of BUSINESSMEN and their enablers the Economists, as the oracles of ethics.  Is it any wonder we are constantly opening new Pandora's Boxes of technology without evaluating the potential harm that could result?

In reply to by Oh regional Indian

rtb61 Fri, 07/06/2018 - 23:27 Permalink

Water accessibility is not what most people think because of lies by corporate main stream media.

Water is all about the cost of delivery of water, you can deliver all the water you want to pretty much any place on the globe as long as you are willing to pay the cost.

The lie about the rarity of water is a lie to cover up the cost of water. Corporations want the cheapest water they can get, that you die of thirst, is great, hell you will pay a fortune for the water they have stolen via corruption. It is all about the cost, they get it cheap or even for free and then deny you access and sell their water at hugely inflated profits. Purposely, psychopathically and utterly ruthlessly (people will die as a result, the CEO cheers, already to many people and the rest will be willing to pay more or also die).

Getting water from one place to another place against the force of gravity is expensive. Reverse osmosis desalination plants are nothing but pumps and filters, the big cost, getting it from below sea level and pumping it hundreds of metres uphill. Not lack of water at all just cost of water and psychopaths running corporations making it cheaper even free for them and charging us a fortune or we die. Often in the most insane fashion, they will force the use of fresh clean water, denying it to the rest of the population, just because it is marginally cheaper that filtering and reusing water, hey that's the CEO bonus, so the fuck what if tens of thousands of you have to die to feed his bonus, seriously, this is the reality.

The Conger Sat, 07/07/2018 - 03:22 Permalink

Rivers cannot flow on a spinning ball earth...water ALWAYS finds level...that's pure physics FACT...only stupid people and there are billions of them believe matter that they know in their minds that what I say is true...they cannot wrap their own minds around it because they are totally brainwashed and living in a false reality...

These stupid people also believe people live upside down to them...that planes and trains cars ships and boats travel upside down...

It really is pathetic that in 2018 the masses are still educated with 500 year old lies fed to the peasants by the Catholic Church....

Ever felt that something aint right with this you know why....




SybilDefense Sat, 07/07/2018 - 03:54 Permalink

Slightly off topic but: has anyone considered that "global warming" is not due to the carbon emmision of human breathing (and as such a suitable carbon tax can be imposed on every human for the good of the world), but it is nature's attempt to dilute the polluted oceans as Ice is triggered to melt to normalize the solute that is known as the Pacific and Atlantic gyre of swirling plastic goo (and hence taxing only on the plastics and waste industries)?  In a closed system, shit like that happens you know... Global osmosis? 

But that idea is not as lucrative to our gobberments and therefore gets lobbied out of theoretical science. Imposing a carbon tax on every living thing (you, your family, your pets, your livestock, etc) is much easier and provides for an exponentially larger tax base than making the plastics companies create biodegradable solutions or even policing litterbugs with fines since it's the indigent and poor who are more likely to toss garbage willy nilly. .. just watch the video at a 7-11 with any "city dwellers". Some folks be juss too lazy an dumb to be using garbage cans. That's for white privilege folk.

Think about it though.  Nature doesn't want all that crap in the ocean.  It's only defense as a living thing is to try and dilute the offensive solute.  Where does nature store it's extra water??? (I dunno, Alaska) Right, Ice!  How does it get the ice to melt?  By floating a layer of plastic goo that traps the heat on the surface and thus warming the system.

Water = life.    Fuck with it at your own perril.

Teach poeple that their litter affects everyone.  Don't demean them with pointed finger, "shame!". That's for liberals.  Make a real impact by asking them to help you pick up their garbage in a pleasant voice. "Excuse me sir, could you help me keep our country clean?"  Beleave me, they will be so embarrassed that they will never litter again... It will impact their lives.  Of course you can always say "What the fuck dude!" the next time an Escalade rolls down it's window and drops out a KFC bucket at a red light (happened to me in Cleveland... I freaked!).

Whatever works for you, but "Keep It Clean"!