1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Nile
NILE, the longest river of Africa, and second in length of all the rivers of the globe, draining a vast area in north-east Africa, from the East African lake plateau to the shores of the Mediterranean. Although falling short of the length of the Mississippi-Missouri (4194 m. according to the estimate of General Tillo), the Nile is at the head of all rivers as regards the length of its basin, which extends through 35° of latitude or 2450 m. in a direct line, with a waterway of about 4000 m. The Nile proper, i.e. from the outlet at Victoria Nyanza to the sea, is 3473 m. long.
The Name.—The early Egyptians called this river by a name which was probably pronounced Hap. It seems to be connected with a root meaning “concealed,” “mysterious.” This survived as a religious designation down to the fall of paganism. The “great river” was also a frequent name for the main stream, and this became the usual name of the Nile in late times as Ier-‘o and continued in use amongst the Copts. In the Bible the Nile is regularly named Yeōr (יאר ,יאױ), from the contemporary Egyptian Yor, “river.” The origin of the Greek and Roman name Νεῖλος, Nilus, is quite unknown. Αἴγυπτος in the Odyssey is the name of the Nile (masc.) as well as of the country (fem.) The Arabs preserved the classical name of the Nile in the proper name En-Nīl النيل, or Nil-Misr مصر لنيل, the Nile of Misr (Egypt). The same word signifies indigo.
The modern Egyptians commonly call the river El-Bahr, “the sea,” a term also applied to the largest rivers, and the inundation “the Nile,” En-Nīl; and the modern Arabs call the river Bahr-en-Nīl, “the river Nile.”
Basin of the River.—The Nile system is a simple one with three principal divisions: (1) the main stream running south to north, and fed by the great lakes of East Central Africa; (2) the equatorial tributary rivers draining the country north-east of the Congo basin; (3) the Abyssinian affluents. The extent of the basin of the Nile is clearly indicated on the map. Its area is estimated at 1,107,227 sq. m., which compares with the 1,425,000 sq. m. area of the Congo basin. The smaller basin of the longer river is due to its narrowness when passing through the Sahara. Southward the basin includes the northern part of the plateau between the two “Rift” valleys which traverse that part of Africa, and also that portion of the Albertine (or western) “Rift” valley which lies north of the Mfumbiro mountains. That part of the plateau within the Nile basin is occupied by the Victoria Nyanza and its affluents. These affluents drain a comparatively small part of this plateau, which stretches south to Lake Nyasa. The most remote feeder of the Nile in this direction does not extend farther than 3° 20′ S. West and W.S.W. of Victoria Nyanza, however, the Nile basin reaches 3° 50′ S. (264 m. south of the equator) and 29° 15′ E., following the crest of the hills which dominate the north-eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika and the eastern shores of Lake Kivu. Turning north-westward from this point the Nile basin crosses the mountainous region of Mfumbiro and includes that of Ruwenzori. Its limit is marked by the western wall of the Albertine Rift valley, in which lie the Albert Edward and Albert Nyanzas. For a considerable distance the water-parting between the Congo and the Nile is close to the Albert Nyanza and to the Nile as it flows from that lake, but not far north of Wadelai (2° 46′ N.) the hills recede and the Nile basin expands westward, over the wide area drained by the Bahr-el-Ghazal and its tributaries. In this region there is no well marked watershed between the Congo and Nile systems, which interlace. Farther north the limit of the valley is marked by the hills of Darfur. Below that point the valley of the Nile extends but a mile or two into the desert.
The south-eastern limits of the Nile basin extend nearly to the western escarpment of the eastern Rift valley—the dividing plateau being a narrow one. North of the equator a bend is made westward to Mt. Elgon, which on the north-east sends its water towards Lake Rudolf. From Mt. Elgon the Nile watershed is some distance to the west of that lake, while to its north a turn is made again, the watershed including a great part of the Abyssinian highlands. Beyond 15° N. it follows a line generally parallel to the west shore of the Red Sea, except where diverted to the west by the basin of the Khor Baraka.
Navigation.— At high Nile there is uninterrupted water communication from the sea to Fort Berkeley in 4° 40′ N.—a distance of 2900 m. Owing to the cataracts, navigation between Assuan and Khartum is impossible during low Nile, and from the 1st of March to the 1st of August the upper courses of the Damietta and Rosetta branches are closed to navigation; the water being utilized for summer irrigation in the delta. As far as Mansura (60 m.) on the Damietta branch and Kafr-el-Zayat (70 m.) on the Rosetta branch, and between Khartum and Fort Berkeley (1090 m.) the river is navigable all the year round, though between the Sobat confluence and Bor, navigation is dependent on the channel being kept clear of sudd. Above Fort Berkeley navigation is interrupted by the rapids and cataracts which extend to Dufile, but from the last-named town to Fajao at the foot of the Murchison Falls (a distance of 150 m.) the river is navigable throughout the year. There is a further navigable stretch between Foweira (just above the Karuma rapids) and the southern end of Lake Kioga. The Blue Nile is navigable for steamers during flood time from its confluence at Khartum to Roseires at the foot of the Abyssinian hills, a distance of 426 m. At low water small boats only can go up stream. The Atbara is never navigable, the current during flood time being too swift for boats. Including the Sobat and the Bahr-el-Ghazal the navigable waters of the Nile and its affluents exceed 4000 m.
Owing to the cataracts and the partial closing of the Damietta and Rosetta branches for irrigation purposes, the Nile below Khartum is subsidiary, as a means of communication, to the railways and highroads. Above Khartum the river is the chief channel of trade and commerce. Steamers first ascended the Nile above the cataracts (to Korosko) in 1820. It was not till 1846 that a steamboat was placed on the White Nile. (W. E. G.; F. R. C.)
Story of Discovery.—Few problems in geographical research exercised for so long a period so potent an influence over the imaginations of man as that of the origin of the Nile. The ancient Egyptians, as is apparent from the records on their monuments, were acquainted with the main stream as far south as the junction of the White and Blue Niles. They appear also to have known the Blue Nile up to its source and the White Nile as far south as the Bahr-el-Ghazal confluence. Beyond that point the sudd probably barred progress. The knowledge acquired by the Egyptians passed to the Persians and Greeks. Herodotus (about 457 B.C.) ascended the Nile as far as the First Cataract. He was led to believe that the source of the river was far to the west in the region of Lake Chad. Eratosthenes, superintendent of the Alexandrian library, in a map made about 250 B.C., showed, with fair accuracy, tho course of the river as far as where Khartum now stands. He showed also the Atbara and Blue Nile. Eratosthenes was the first writer to hint at equatorial lakes as the sources of the river. Tuba II., king of Mauretania (who died about A.D. 20), in his Libyca, quoted by Pliny, makes the Nile rise in western Mauretania, not far from the ocean, in a lake presenting characteristic Nile fauna, then pass underground for several days' journey to a similar lake in Mauretania Caesariensis, again continue underground for twenty days' journey to the source called Nigris on the borders of Africa and Ethiopia, and thence flow through Ethiopia as the Astapus. This remarkable story received considerable credence, and may be connected with the theory which made the Niger a branch of the Nile, (see below). Strabo (a contemporary of Juba), who ascended the river as far as Syene, states that very early investigators had connected the inundation of the Lower Nile with summer rains on the far southern mountains, and that their theory had been confirmed by the observations of travellers under the Ptolemies. About the same time Dalion, a Greek, is believed to have ascended the White Nile. Nero dispatched two centurions on an expedition for the express purpose of exploring the Nile, and Seneca states that they reached a marshy impassable region, which may be easily identified with the country of the White Nile above the mouth of the Sobat. To what they referred when they reported a great mass of water falling from between two rocks is not so readily determined. During this period more accurate knowledge concerning the Nile sources was obtained from the reports of Greek traders who visited the settlements on what is now called the Zanzibar coast. A merchant named Diogenes returning (about A.D. 50) from the east coast of Africa told a Syrian geographer, Marinus of Tyre, that journeying inland for twenty live days he reached the neighbourhood of two great lakes and a range of snow mountains whence the Nile drew its sources. Marinus published this report in his geographical works. This book is lost, but the information is incorporated in the writings of Ptolemy, who in his book and map sums up all that was known or surmised of the Nile in the middle of the 2nd century of the Christian era. Ptolemy writes that two streams issuing from two lakes (one in 6° and the other in 7° S.) unite in 2° N. to make the Nile, which, in 12° N., receives the Astapus, a river flowing from Lake Coloe (on the equator). His two southern lakes, he conceived, were fed by the melting of snows on a range of mountains running east and west for upwards of 500 m.—the Mountains of the Moon, τὸ τῆς σελήνης ὄρος, Lunae Montes. It will be seen that, save for placing the sources too far to the south, Ptolemy's statements were a near approximation to the facts. The two southern lakes may be identified with Victoria and Albert Nyanzas, and Lake Coloe with Lake Tsana. The snow-capped range of Ruwenzori occupies—at least in part—the position assigned to the Mountains of the Moon, with which chain Kilimanjaro and Kenya may also be plausibly identified. On all the subsequent history of the geography of the Nile Ptolemy's theory had an enormous influence. Medieval maps and descriptions, both European and Arabian, reproduce the Mountains of the Moon and the equatorial lakes with a variety of probable or impossible modifications. Even Speke (see below) congratulated himself on identifying the old Ptolemian range with the high lands to the north of Tanganyika, and connected the name with that of Unyamwezi, the “country of the moon.”
In the fourteen centuries after Ptolemy virtually nothing was added to the knowledge of the geography of the Upper Nile. Arab writers of the 12th and 13th centuries make mention of the great lakes, and their reports served to revive the interest of Europe in the problem of the Nile. Idrisi made both the Nile and the Niger issue from a great lake, the Niger flowing west, the Nile north. Hence arose much confusion, the Senegal estuary being regarded by its discoverers (1445) as the mouth of a western branch of the Nile. Even until the early years of the 19th century the belief persisted in a connexion between the Nile and the Niger (see further Niger). Portuguese explorers and missionaries, who in the 15th and 16th centuries visited the east coast of Africa and Abyssinia, gained some information about the equatorial lake region and the Nile, the extent of the knowledge thus acquired being shown in the map of Africa of Filippo Pigafetta, Italian traveller and historian (1533–1603) published in 1580. It was not, however, till the 17th century that the sources of the Blue Nile were visited by Europeans. In 1615 Pedro Paez, a Portuguese priest, was shown them by the Abyssinians. Ten years later another Portuguese priest, Jeronimo Lobo, also visited the sources and left a vivid description of the rise of the river and its passage through Lake Tsana. An English version of the accounts of Paez and Lobo—written by Sir Peter Wyche—was published in 1669 by order of the Royal Society, of which Sir Peter was an original Fellow. Between 1625 (the date of Lobo's visit) and 1770, some attempts were made by French and other travellers to explore the Blue Nile, but they ended in failure. In the last-named year James Bruce (q.v.) reached Abyssinia, and in November 1772 he arrived in Egypt, having visited the source of the Blue Nile and followed it, in the main, to its confluence with the White Nile. On returning to Europe Bruce was mortified to find that whilst he was still in Egypt the French geographer D'Anville had (1772) issued a new edition of his map of Africa in which by a careful study of the writings of Paez and Lobo he had anticipated Bruce's discoveries, D'Anville's map is singularly accurate, if we remember the scanty information at his disposal. To Bruce, nevertheless, belongs the honour of being the first white man to trace the Blue Nile to its confluence with the White Nile. He himself, considering that the Blue Nile was the main branch of the river, claimed to be the discoverer of the long-sought caput Nili.
From the time of Bruce, interest in the Nile problem grew rapidly. The Englishman W. G. Browne (q.v.) when in Darfur (1794–1796) heard that the Abiad rose far south in the Mountains of the Moon, but he makes no mention of the great lakes, and in Major Rennell's map of 1802 there is no hint of equatorial lakes at the Abiad sources. During the French occupation of Egypt the river from the sea to Assuan was accurately surveyed, the results being embodied in Jacotin's Atlas de l'Egypte (1807). In 1812–1814 J. L. Burckhardt, the Orientalist, went up the Nile to Korosko, travelled thence across the desert to Berber and Shendi, and crossing the Atbara made his way to the Red Sea. It was, however, due to the initiative of Mehemet Ali, Pasha of Egypt, that the While Nile was explored. In 1820–22 a military expedition under Ismail Pasha, a son of Mehemet Ali, which was joined by the French scientist Frédéric Cailliaud (who had visited Meroë in 1819) ascended the river to the confluence of the White and Blue Niles, founded the city of Khartum, and ascended the Blue Nile to Fazokl. In 1827 Adolphe Linant, a Belgian in the service of the British African Association, ascended the White Nile 132 m. above Khartum, being the first white man to do so since the first century A.D. Then followed three Egyptian expeditions sent in 1839-41 and 1842 by Mehemet Ali up the White Nile. The first expedition reached, on the 28th of January 1840, a point 6° 30′ N., the second and third pressed further south, reaching 4° 42′ N.—or the foot of the rapids above Gondokoro. A Turkish officer, Selim Bimbashi, commanded the expeditions, and among the members were the Frenchmen Thibaut (a convert to Islam and for nearly forty years French consular agent at Khartum), D'Arnaud and Sabatier, and a German, Ferdinand Werne. The last-named wrote a scientific account of the second expedition and drew a map of the Nile between Khartum and Gondokoro. An Austrian Roman Catholic mission was established in the Sudan, and in 1850 one of its members, Dr Ignatz Knoblecher, sent to Europe reports, gleaned from the natives, of the existence of great lakes to the south. About the same time two Protestant missionaries, Ludwig Krapf and John Rebmann, stationed on the Zanzibar coast, sent home reports of a vast inland sea in the direction where the Nile sources were believed to be. This sea was supposed to extend from 0° 30′ N. to 13° 30′ S. These reports revived interest in Ptolemy's Geography. The exploration of the Bahr-el-Ghazal by John Petherick, Miss Tinne and her companions, and others followed the opening up of the White Nile (see Bahr-el-Ghazal.). The general result of the work carried on from the north was that by 1858 the Nile system was known as far south as the rapids at Bedden.
On the 3rd of August 1858 the English explorer J. H. Speke (q.v.) discovered the large nyanza (lake), which he rightly conceived to be the head reservoir of the White Nile, and which in honour of the queen of England he named Victoria Nyanza. Captain (Sir Richard) Burton and Speke had gone inland from Zanzibar to investigate the reports concerning the vast lake which Rebmann and Krapf had called the Sea of Unyamwezi. These reports proved to be exaggerated accounts of three distinct lakes—Nyasa, Tanganyika and Victoria Nyanza. In 1860 Speke returned to Zanzibar accompanied by J. A. Grant (q.v.), bent on solving the problem of the Nile. In spite of great difficulties he made his way to Uganda, on the north-west of Victoria Nyanza, and (without exploring the lake) succeeded in reaching its outlet. On the 28th of July 1862 Speke stood by the Ripon Falls—the birthplace of the Nile. In his journey he had discovered the Kagera river, now known to be the most remote head stream of the Nile, a fact of which Speke was uncertain. though he recognized that it was the largest river entering the nyanza. Speke and Grant paddled down the Nile a short distance, but before reaching Lake Kioga they were stopped by hostile natives and compelled to go westward to Unyoro. There they heard of another great lake further west, but the king of Unyoro refused them permission to visit it. In the end they descended the Kafu river to its confluence with the Nile and then down the main stream to the Karuma Rapids. Here Speke and Grant left the river, and travelled overland east of the stream, which they did not strike again until just above the Ausa confluence. Thence they travelled down the Nile to Gondokoro, reached on the 15th of February 1863.
This remarkable journey virtually solved the Nile problem so far as the source of the main stream was concerned, but there remained much to be done before the hydrography of the whole Nile basin was made known. At Gondokoro Speke and Grant met Mr (afterwards Sir Samuel) Baker and his wife—a Hungarian lady—who had journeyed thither to afford the explorers help. To Baker Speke communicated the news he had heard concerning the western lake, and this lake Baker determined to find. On the 26th of March 1863 Baker and his wife left Gondokoro, and despite much opposition, especially from slave-dealers, followed, in the reverse direction, the route of Speke and Grant as far as Unyoro, whence they journeyed west. On the 14th of March 1864 they struck the lake (Albert Nyanza) on its S.E. side. They paddled up the lake to the point where a large river coming from the east poured its waters into the lake. This stream, which they rightly conjectured to be Speke's Nile, they followed up to the Murchison Falls. Thence they went overland to the Karuma Rapids, and so back to Gondokoro by their old tracks. It fell to the lot of General C. G. Gordon (when that officer administered the Egyptian Equatorial provinces) and his assistants to fill up the gap left by Speke and Baker in the course of the main stream. In 1874 75 two English engineer officers—Lieut. (afterwards Colonel Sir Charles M.) Watson and Lieut. H. Chippendall—followed the river between Gondokoro and Albert Nyanza; in 1876 an Italian, Romolo Gessi Pasha, circumnavigated that lake, proving Baker's estimate of its size to be vastly exaggerated; Gordon in the same year traced the river between Murchison Falls and Karuma Rapids, and an American, Colonel C. Chaillé-Long followed (1874) the Nile from the Ripon Falls to the Karuma Rapids, discovering in his journey Lake Kioga (which he named Ibrahim). In this manner the identity of the Victoria Nile with the river which issued from the Albert Nyanza was definitely established.
In 1874 H. M. Stanley (q.v.) went to Africa with the object of completing the work left unfinished by David Livingstone, who believed, erroneously, that the ultimate sources of the Nile were far to the south (see Congo). Stanley, in 1875, circumnavigated Victoria Nyanza, setting at rest the doubt thrown on Speke's statement that it was a huge sheet of water, but proving Speke mistaken in believing the nyanza to have more than one outlet. On the same journey Stanley encamped at the foot of the Ruwenzori range, not knowing that they were the &lduo;Mountains of the Moon,” whose streams are the chief feeders of Albert Nyanza. (At the time of his visit the snow-peaks and glaciers were hidden by heavy clouds.) In 1888, however, Stanley saw the mountains in all their glory of snow and ice, discovered Albert Edward Nyanza, and traced the river (Semliki) which connects it with Albert Nyanza. The Semliki had been discovered, and its lower course followed in 1884 by Emin Pasha. Thus at length the riddle of the Nile was read, though much was still to do in the matter of scientific survey, and in the exploration of the valley of the Sobat (q.v.). The Kagera had been partly explored by Stanley (1875), by whom it was called the Alexandra Nile, and between 1891–98 its various branches were traced by the German travellers Oscar Baumann, Richard Kandt and Captain H. Ramsay, and by Lionel Décle, a Frenchman. A British officer, Colonel C. Delmé-Radcliffe, made the first accurate survey (1900–1901) of the Nile between Albert Nyanza and Gondokoro. In 1903 an Anglo-German commission under Colonel Delmé-Radcliffe and Captain Schlobach made a detailed survey of the Kagera from 30° E. to its mouth. The Kioga system was surveyed in 1907–1908 by Lieut. C. E. Fishbourne. A trigonometrical survey of the upper river was begun by Colonel M. G. Talbot, director of Sudan surveys, in 1900, and other surveys were made by Captain H. G. Lyons, director-general of the Egyptian survey department. A fish-survey of the waters of the Nile was also undertaken.
The Removal of Sudd.—As already stated, the sudd above the Sobat confluence seems to have stopped the Roman centurions sent by the emperor Nero to explore the Nile. When the river above the Sobat was again reached by white men (1840) the stream was clear of sudd, and so continued until 1863-1864, when both the Bahr-el-Jebel and the Bahr-el-Zeraf became blocked by floating masses of vegetation. When Baker proceeded to Gondokoro in 1870 he thus described the increase that neglect had caused in the obstruction: “The immense number of floating islands that were constantly passing down the stream of the While Nile had no exit; thus they were sucked under the original obstruction by the force of the stream, which passed through some mysterious channel, until the subterranean passage became choked with a wondrous accumulation of vegetable matter. The entire river became a marsh, through which, by the great pressure of water, the stream oozed through innumerable small channels. In fact, the White Nile had disappeared.” Baker, who had to cut through 50 m. of sudd in his passage to Gondokoro, urged to Khedive Ismail to reopen the Nile. This work was efficiently done by Ismail Ayub Pasha, and the White Nile was clear for large vessels when Gordon reached Khartum in 1874. The river did not long remain free, for in 1878 Emin Pasha was unable to ascend the Bahr-el-Jebel from the south on account of sudd. It was cleared in 1879–1880 by officials in the Egyptian service, but had again accumulated in 1884. In consequence of the Mahdist movement nothing could then be done to clear the river, and the work was not taken in hand again until 1899, when, by direction of Sir William Garstin, the Egyptian inspector-general of irrigation, an expedition under Major Malcom Peake, R.A., was sent to cut through the sudd, which then extended from the Bahr-el-Ghazal confluence almost to Gondokoro. During 1900 a channel was cut through the northern and heaviest portion of the sudd. The work was one of much difficulty, some of the blocks being 1 m. long and 20 ft. deep; the water beneath flowed with great velocity. To remove the obstruction the surface was first burnt; then trenches were cut dividing the sudd into blocks 10 ft. square, and each of these was hauled out with wire hawsers and chains by gunboats working from below. For a distance of 172 m. N. of Shambe (i.e. about midway between the Ghazal confluence and Gondokoro) the true bed of the river could not, in many places, be found, but Major Peake forced a passage to Gondokoro through a spill channel or series of shallow lakes lying west of the main stream. In 1901 Lieut. Drury, a British naval officer, removed many of the remaining blocks of sudd, opening to navigation a further 147 m. of the river. Beyond this point for a distance of 25 m. the Bahr-el-Jebel could not be traced, so completely was the channel choked by sudd. In 1902, however, Major G. E. Matthews discovered the true bed of the river, which by 1904 was completely freed from obstructions, and freedom of navigation between Khartum and Gondokoro was permanently secured. The effect of the sudd-cutting operations on the supply of water available for irrigation purposes in the lower river was slight. Nevertheless, Sir William Garstin reported that the removal of the sudd “undoubtedly checked the fall in the river levels which would otherwise have taken place.”
Political Relations.—Explored in part by Egyptian government expeditions, the upper Nile as far south as Albert Nyanza became subject, between 1840 and 1882, to Egypt. Possession of the greater part of the river above Wadi Halfa then fell to the followers of the Mahdi. In 1896–98 an Anglo-Egyptian army reconquered the country, and from Victoria Nyanza to the Mediterranean the main river came under British or Egyptian administration. The west bank of the Bahr-el-Jebel, as far north as 5° 30′ N., was in 1894 taken on lease from Great Britain by the Congo Free State during the sovereignty of Leopold II., the territory leased being known as the Lado enclave (q.v.). The Kagera, the main head stream, lies almost wholly in German East Africa.
Authorities.—For the story of exploration see the works of Bruce, Speke, Grant, Baker and other travellers (whose books are mentioned in the biographical notices). Their achievements, and those of ancient and medieval explorers, are ably summarized in The Story of Africa, vols. ii. and iii., by Dr Robert Brown (London, 1893–1894), and The Nile Quest, by Sir Harry Johnston (London, 1903). See also J. Partsch, Des Aristotel's Buch: “Über das Steigen des Nil” (Leipzig, 1909). For the Kagera region consult Caput Nili, by Richard Kandt (Berlin, 1904). Latest additions to geographical knowledge are recorded in the Geographical Journal (London) and the Cairo Scientific Journal. For the hydrography, geology and climate see: The Physiography of the River Nile and its Basin, by Captain H. G. Lyons, director-general, survey department, Egypt (Cairo, 1906), an authoritative work, and numerous other publications of the Survey and Public Works Departments; “Notes on the History of the Nile and its Valley,” by W. F. Hume, in Geog. Jnl. (Jan. 1906); Egyptian Irrigation (2nd ed., London, 1899) and the Nile Reservoir Dam at Assuan and After (London, 1901), both by Sir William Willcocks; the Annual Reports (1899 and after) of the Egyptian Public Works Department, by Sir William Garstin and others, and those on Egypt and the Sudan by Lord Cromer and Sir Eldon Gorst (London; official publications). Of special value is the Blue Book Egypt No. 2, 1904, which is a report by Sir William Garstin on the basin of the upper Nile, dealing at length with the lake area, the Nile affluents and the main river as far south as Khartum, from the topographical as well as the hydrographical aspect. Sir W. Garstin and Captain Lyons give full bibliographical notes.
The study of the zoology of the Nile valley was the special object of a Swedish scientific expedition in 1901, under the direction of Prof. L. A. Jägerskiöld. The Results were published at Upsala, pt. iii. appearing in 1909. For the botanical and other aspects of the Nile valley, see the works of Petherick, Heuglin, Schweinfurth, Junker and Emin. An orographical map of the Nile basin was published by the Survey Department, Cairo, in 1908. It is in six sheets on a scale of 1:2,500,000, with inset maps showing political divisions, distribution of rainfall and of vegetation. (F. R. C.)
- General Alexi A. Tillo (1839–1900), Russian scientist and geographer, author of works on geodesy, meteorology, &c.
- “En-Nīl is the river (lit. the inundation) of Egypt: Es-Saghani says—‘But as to the nil [indigo] with which one dyes, it is an Indian word Arabicized’” (The Misbāh of El-Fayāmi).
- At Khartum the water of the one river is of a greenish-grey colour, that of the other is clear and blue, except when in flood, when it gains a chocolate brown from its alluvial burden.
- The fall in the river-bed, as given in these pages, is an approximation derived from barometric readings only.
- In ancient times the delta was watered by seven branches; five of these branches are now canals not always navigable. The ancient branches were, beginning at the west, the Canopic, Bolbitine, Sebennytic, Phatnitic, Mendesian, Tanitic and Pelusiac, of which the modern Rosetta and Damietta branches represent the Bolbitine and Phatnitic.
- By Sir Hanbury Brown, inspector-general of irrigation, Lower Egypt, 1892–1903.
- Egyptian Irrigation (p. 29), by Sir W. Willcocks (London, 1899).
- Between Assuan (Shellàl) and Wadi Halfa the river is, however, the main highway, there being no railway between the places named.
- The two lakes afterwards received the names Lake of Crocodiles and Lake of Cataracts.
- Francisco Alvarez, a priest, who was in Abyssinia 1520–1526, afterwards wrote (about 1550) an account of Abyssinia in which he refers to the Atbara as the main Nile.
- Bruce, however, acknowledged in his Travels that the Abiad (White Nile) at its confluence with the Blue Nile was the larger river. The Abiad, he writes, “preserves its stream always undiminished, because rising in latitudes where there are continual rains, it therefore suffers not the decrease the Nile does by the six months' dry weather.”
- Baker and his wife had in 1861-1862 explored the Atbara (to its upper waters) and other eastern tributaries of the Nile.
- In the map issued in 1873 to illustrate Schweinfurth's book, The Heart of Africa, Victoria Nyanza is shown as five small lakes.