At nearly 3,000 miles, the Congo River is the second longest river in Africa (after the Nile) and the eighth longest in the whole world. The river starts in Zambia and is fed by rains falling in the mountains and highlands of east Africa as well as Lake Mweru and Lake Tanganyika. The volume of water flowing is fairly constant year-round as it always the rainy season somewhere along its giant course. Weaving its way through central Africa, it crosses the equator twice, passes through nine countries and is second only to the Amazon in terms of flow rate and drainage basin area.
The river is peppered with islands, waterfalls and hydro-electric power plants along its course, meaning that only sections of it are navigable by larger boats. Despite this, the river is of huge economic importance, being used to transport a variety of goods from copper to palm-oil, cotton, sugar and coffee. It is also an important source of fish to the many people who live along its banks as well as supporting many species of wildlife including hippo and crocodile.