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Rivers of South Africa


Orange river in South Africa
Orange river in South Africa

The chief rivers are the Orange, Vaal, and Limpopo. The Orange is the longest, stretching about 2,100 km (about 1,300 mi). It rises in Lesotho, where it is called the Senqu, and flows northwestward to the Atlantic Ocean, forming the boundary with Namibia along the river’s westernmost section. The Vaal rises in the northeast, near Swaziland, and flows southwestward to its confluence with the Orange. The Limpopo rises further north, flowing northeastward to the Botswana border and then eastward along the Botswana and Zimbabwe borders until it enters Mozambique, where it empties into the Indian Ocean. Many shorter rivers flow south to the Indian Ocean, including the Sundays (Sondags), Great Fish, and Kei in the Eastern Cape, and the Thukela (Tugela) in KwaZulu-Natal.

Most of South Africa’s rivers are irregular in flow and are dry during much of the year. Consequently, they are of little use for navigation or hydroelectric power, but of some use for irrigation and water supply. The Orange River Project, begun in 1962, transfers water from the Orange River to the Great Fish and Sundays river basins. In the late 1970s, water began to be pumped from the Thukela to the Vaal to meet the growing needs of the Witwatersrand industrial region. This is supplemented by the major Lesotho Highlands Water Project, begun in 1986, which diverts water from the Senqu and other rivers. With the exception of Fundudzi Lake, which was formed by a huge landslide in the northeastern Soutpansberg Range, South Africa’s only notable lakes are artificial, and include those created by the Vaal Dam and Gariep Dam on the Orange River.

Coastline


South Africa’s 2,798 km (1,739 mi) of coastline has few bays or coves and only one good natural harbor, at Saldanha Bay in the southwest, which is used mainly for the export of iron ore. Other ports are essentially artificial, including Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, and Richard’s Bay. The most distinctive promontory on the coast is Cape Peninsula in southwestern South Africa, which ends at the Cape of Good Hope. Coral reefs fringe parts of the eastern coast. "South Africa" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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