Rufiji - Encyclopedia

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RUFIJI, a large river of German East Africa, entering the sea by a considerable delta, between 7° 45' and 8° 13' S. Its upper basin, which extends from N. to S. through over 300 m., is drained by three main branches, which unite to form the lower Rufiji. Of the three upper branches, the two southern, the Luvegu and the Ulanga, though shorter than the northernmost (the Ruaha), carry a greater volume of water, as they come from a more rainy region, and by their junction in 8° 35' S., 37° 25' E., the Rufiji proper may be said to be formed.

The Luvegu rises 1 0° 50' S., 35° 50' E., and flows N.E. in a wooded valley, generally narrow, and bordered by a broken country in great part uninhabited and covered with thin forest. In its lower course it is a large stream - loo to 150 yds. wide.

The Ulanga is formed by a number of streams descending from the outer escarpment of the high plateau which runs N.E. from the head of Lake Nyasa and in Uhehe becomes broken up in ranges of mountains. The most important head-stream, the Ruhudye, rises in about 9° 30' S., 34° 40' E. As a whole, the Ulanga valley is broad, level and swampy, the river running in a very winding course and sending off many diverging arms. It is navigable throughout the greater part of its course, having even in the dry season a general depth of 3 to 12 ft., with a width of 40 to 120 yds. In April and May nearly all the streams overflow their banks and cover a great part of the plain.

Just below the junction of the Luvegu and Ulanga, the Rufiji flows through a narrow pass by the Shuguli falls, and continues N.E. in a fairly straight course to the junction of the Ruaha, in 7° 55' S., 37° 52' E. The most remote branches of the Ruaha rise N. of Lake Nyasa in the Livingstone mountains. The united stream makes a wide sweep to the N. of the Uhehe mountains, from which it receives various tributaries, finally flowing S.E. and E. to the Rufiji. A little below the junction the Rufiji is broken by the Pangani falls, but is thence navigable by small steamers to its delta. In this part of its course the river receives no large tributaries but sends out divergent channels. The country on either side is a generally level plain, inundated, on the south,. in the rains, and the river varies in width from loo to 400 yds., with an average current of 3 m. an hour. The main mouth of the river is that known as Simba Uranga, the bar of which can be crossed by ocean vessels at high water, but all the branches are very shallow as the apex of the delta is approached. Much of the delta is suited for ricegrowing.

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