Nile Delta Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: David Wilson

David has taught college history and holds an MA in history.

The world's longest river, the Nile, drains into a delta in northern Egypt that has been inhabited by people for thousands of years. Learn about the geography and history of the Nile Delta in this lesson.

Wet and Dry

Have you ever seen a movie or a TV show where someone travels across a giant desert and can't find water? If you travel from west to east across the world's largest desert, the Sahara in Africa, it'll be a long time before you find water. But when you do, you'll come to the world's longest river, the Nile.

Before the Nile reaches the Mediterranean Sea, it breaks apart into many different forks, forming a delta, a part of a river that branches out before reaching a larger body of water. The Nile Delta is famous for its long history and many unique animals.

Satellite photo of the Nile Delta in northern Egypt
Nile Delta

Moving Earth and Water

River deltas are special because they contain the sediment, or dirt and earth, carried downstream by the rivers they're connected to. All rivers transport sediment as they flow to oceans, and this combination of water and earth makes deltas very good places to grow plants. That's why the rest of Egypt looks like a brown desert, but the Nile Delta looks like a green paradise. The Nile Delta begins just north of Cairo, the capital and largest city in Egypt, and is one of only a few places in all Egypt where lots of plants, animals, and people can live.

Photo of the Nile Delta at night: notice how many people live here, and how few people live in the surrounding desert
Nile at night

This flow of water and sediment is the reason why ancient Egyptians called the Nile their home. They couldn't live far out in the desert, but could grow crops and livestock through the delta where the river flowed. As ancient Egypt grew larger and richer, they could build bigger and bigger pyramids because they always had enough food and water. What's more, the Delta was a good place for trade, because they could send goods up the river, or bring in ships from across the entire Mediterranean Sea.

Ancient Animals of the Delta

There were two particularly famous animals who called the Nile Delta home in ancient Egypt: crocodiles and hippos. These two creatures can only survive in large rivers where they can find lots of food. Hippos stay underwater for most of the day to stay cool, then head onto land at night to eat grass. Crocodiles cruise through the water looking for just about anything to eat, from fish to bigger animals, including hippos themselves! These crocodiles are one of the world's largest reptiles.

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