The Ruzizi (also sometimes spelled Rusizi) is a river, 117 kilometres
(73 mi) long, that flows from
Lake Kivu to
Lake Tanganyika in
Central Africa, descending from about 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) to
about 770 metres (2,530 ft) above sea level over its
length. The steepest gradients occur over the first 40
kilometres (25 mi), where hydroelectric dams have been built.
Further downstream, the Ruzizi Plain, the floor of the Western Rift
Valley, has only gentle hills, and the river flows into Lake
Tanganyika through a delta, with one or two small channels splitting
off from the main channel.
The Ruzizi is a young river, formed about 10,000 years ago when
volcanism associated with continental rifting created the Virunga
Mountains. The mountains blocked Lake Kivu's former outlet to the
watershed of the
Nile and instead forced the lake overflow south down
the Ruzizi and the watershed of the Congo.
4 Fauna and flora
5 See also
7 External links
Along its upstream reaches, the river forms part of the border between
Rwanda on the east with the
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on
the west. Further downstream, it forms part of the border between
the DRC and Burundi, and its lowermost reach lies entirely within
Burundi. To the west, the Fizi Baraka mountains tower over the
river. The Bridge of Concord, Burundi's longest bridge, crosses the
river near its mouth. Tributaries of the
Ruzizi River include the
Nyamagana, Muhira, Kaburantwa, Kagunuzi, Rubyiro and Ruhwa, among
The Ruzizi River, flowing south into Lake Tanganyika, is part of the
upper watershed of the Congo River. Nineteenth-century British
explorers such as
Richard Francis Burton
Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke,
uncertain of the direction of flow of the Ruzizi, thought that it
might flow north out of the lake toward the White Nile. Their research
and follow-up explorations by
David Livingstone and Henry Morton
Stanley established among Europeans that this was not the case. The
Ruzizi flows into Lake Tanganyika, which overflows into the Lukuga
River about 120 kilometres (75 mi) south of Ujiji. The Lukuga
flows west into the Lualaba River, a major tributary of the Congo.
Rifting, the slow pulling apart of a tectonic plate, has produced the
Rift system and its many basins and lakes. The system, on
the boundary between the
African Plate (Nubian Plate) and the Somali
Plate, has two branches, both oriented north–south. Rifting in the
western branch, called the Albertine Rift, began between 25 and 10
million years ago. The
Ruzizi River lies along the western rift,
which includes, from north to south, lakes Albert, George, Edward,
Kivu, Tanganyika, Rukwa, Malawi, and others.
Uplift associated with the rifting altered the connections among the
region's water bodies. About 13,000 to 9,000 years ago, volcanic
activity blocked Lake Kivu's former outlet to the watershed of the
Nile. The volcanism produced mountains, including the Virungas,
which rose between
Lake Kivu and Lake Edward, to the north. Water
Lake Kivu was then forced south down the Ruzizi. This in turn
raised the level of Lake Tanganyika, which overflowed down the Lukuga
River. Variations in uplift and climate have caused the Ruzizi and
Lukuga to open and close multiple times since then.
The Ruzizi I hydroelectric dam was built at the
Ruzizi River outlet
Lake Kivu in 1958. The Ruzizi II power station was added in
1989. Ruzizi I and II are operated by a tri-national company
Rwanda and Democratic Republic of the Congo) owned by the
Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries. The consortium is
planning two more dams, Ruzizi III and IV.
Ruzizi I has a generating capacity of about 30 megawatts (MW) and
Ruzizi II about 44 MW. Ruzizi III, to be built downstream of the other
two, is projected to have a capacity of 145 MW when it becomes
operational in about 2016. As part of the Ruzizi III project, Ruzizi I
and II are to be refurbished. If eventually built, Ruzizi IV will be
positioned between Ruzizi II and Ruzizi III and is projected to
operate at more than 200 MW.
Fauna and flora
A widely publicized man-eating crocodile, Gustave, roams the banks of
Ruzizi River and the northern shores of Lake Tanganyika. Gustave,
estimated to be about 6 metres (20 ft) long and to weigh about
900 kilograms (2,000 lb), is said to have killed and eaten many
In the film documenting Gustave ("Capturing the Killer Croc"), the
narrator states that "In the 1950s, buffalo, elephants and common
warthogs inhabited the plain; but they were progressively exterminated
by man. The only survivor amongst the large mammals has been the
hippopotamus. And they share the river, in an uneasy co-existence,
with the nile crocodiles."
Reed swamps are common along the lower main stem of the river and its
tributaries. Near the mouth, the riparian swamps are up to 3
kilometres (1.9 mi) wide. The swamps' total area in
been estimated at 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres) with reeds varying in
height from 2 to 4 metres (6.6 to 13.1 ft), depending on the
degree of inundation. Residents use the reeds for thatching and other
domestic purposes. Further from the river, much of the lower river
valley consists of grassland, heavily grazed by cattle.
African Great Lakes
^ a b c Derived from geolocation with Google Earth.
^ a b Geolocation with Google Earth
^ a b Felton, Anna A.; Russell, James M.; Cohen, Andrew S.; Baker,
Mark E.; Chesley, John T.; Lezzar, Kiram E.; McGlue, Michael M.;
Pigati, Jeffrey S.; Quade, Jay; Curt Stager, J.; Tiercelin, Jean
Jacques (2007). "Paleolimnological Evidence for the Onset and
Termination of Glacial Aridity from Lake Tanganyika, Tropical East
Africa". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 252
(3–4): 405. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2007.04.003.
^ a b Lamers, Alfred (1990). "Ruzizi II - A Fine Example of Regional
Cooperation". Human Info NGO Library for Education and Development.
Retrieved 14 January 2013.
^ a b c d "Google Maps". Google. 2013. Retrieved 14 January
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^ Doyle, Mark (25 November 2004). "Retracing Che Guevara's Congo
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^ Ondaatje, Christoper (1998). Journey to the Source of the Nile.
Toronto: Harper Collins. p. 166. ISBN 0-00-200019-9.
^ a b c d e f g Danley, Patrick D.; Husemann, Martin; Ding, Baoqing;
Dipietro, Lyndsay M.; Beverly, Emily J.; Peppe, Daniel J.; et al.
(2012). "The Impact of the Geologic History and Paleoclimate on the
Diversification of East African Cichlids". International Journal of
Evolutionary Biology. Hindawi. 2012: 1. doi:10.1155/2012/574851.
Retrieved 15 January 2013.
^ Clark, J. D. (1969). Kalambo Falls Prehistoric Site, Volume 1.
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^ a b c "Sizing Up African Hydro". Water Power. Global Trade Media. 4
October 2011. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
^ McRae, Michael. "Gustave the Croc Surfaces to Strike Again".
National Geographic (February 2008). Retrieved 14 January 2013.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ruzizi River.
Rivers of Burundi
Rivers of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Congo left bank (south)
Kasai and tributaries
Congo right bank (north)
Lualaba and tributaries
Rivers of Rwanda
Nyabarongo River / Akagera
Koko River, Rutsiro District
Koko River, Rusizi District