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The Nile River - History and Facts

Updated on April 2, 2015
Paula Atwell profile image

Paula Atwell is a freelance writer with WriterAccess, webmaster, member of Pinterest Party on FB and the owner of Lake Erie Artist Gallery.

Nile River Facts | How Long Is the Nile River

Nile River Information:

The River Nile, stretching across half of Africa, flows northwards from the tropical mountains and forests of the Equator to the temperate Mediterranean Sea.

How long is the Nile River? It is Africa's longest river, reaching 4150 miles from the lakes that feed it and the streams that feed those lakes. Of Egypt, the land with which it is most closely associated and which the Nile makes fruitful for the last thousand miles of its course, the ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote that it is an acquired country, 'the gift of the river'.

So it is; but the river itself is, in a sense, the gift of man. 'Help yourself,' runs an Egyptian proverb, 'and the Nile will help you.' The Nile as we see it today is the product of peoples who have been helping themselves for the past 5000 years.

For an excellent resource about the history of The Nile River, click here.

The Gift of Life

It is a supreme gift, not only of the equatorial rains, but of man with his inherent adaptability, industry, inventiveness, courage, curiosity and sense of adventure.During the millennium preceding the dynastic history of Egypt, which began around 3200 BC, the ending of the Ice Age gradually dried up the grasslands which bordered the Nile, transforming the pastures of herdsmen and hunters into waterless desert.

Yet the river itself remained, sprawling through this desert, overflowing its banks into jungle swamps and waterlogged marshes where hippo­potamuses and crocodiles flourished and vegetation ran rife and unproductive.

A new challenge thus confronted the inhabitants of the valley and its neighboring lands.

Some evaded the challenge, taking the line of least resistance. Their progeny survive among the Nilotic tribesmen of the Southern Sudan, primiÂtive men still living in a natural environment.

Here, in a tropical region perennially watered by rain, is a wilderness of swamps known as the Sudd, in which the river loses half its waters. Traversing a labyrinth of streams, inlets and lakes, its main channels have no fixed banks, but pass between floating masses of vegetable matter-'floes' of matted papyrus and reeds, forever shifting this way and that to block the river's course.

The Nile - History, Adventure, and Discovery

The Nile - History, Adventure, and Discovery (Exploration & Discovery)
The Nile - History, Adventure, and Discovery (Exploration & Discovery)

In the mid-nineteenth century, the the Nile River's source was found by British explorers Richard Burton, James Augustus Grant, and Samuel White Baker. This volume follows the expeditions, initial failures, exotic lands and hard-won successes through a brilliantly written text accompanied by 100's of fascinating images.The Discovery of the Nile recounts the intriguing history of the slow exploration of the course of the river and its tributaries, its history from the ancient Egyptians to the Napoleonic conquests; from the British expedition to Abyssinia to the Egyptian invasion of Sudan. Exciting history comes to life through the interesting narrative and superb visuals which include nineteenth century landscape paintings, maps, botanical prints, and much more. History buffs will be thrilled to dig into the fascinating story of the discovery of the Nile as told through hundreds of vibrant images and a narrative as engaging as any adventure story.

 

Reclaimed Soil on The Nile River

Nile River Facts

Below the First Cataract near Aswan, where Egypt properly begins, it is different. Here other tribesmen made a more positive response to the challenge. They faced up to the change in their climate by changing their whole way of living. Stirring themselves to action, they drained the swamps and the marshes, canalized the river between dikes and diverted some of its flow into ditches and basins with low mud walls. Thus they reclaimed soil on which they grew their food instead of gathering it.

Unlike their less spirited neighbors, they imposed themselves on their environment and thereby transformed Egypt into a cultivated land rich in cereals, vegetables, fodder, oil crops and, in later times, sugar cane and cotton. Their descendants are the industrious fellaheen, toiling in their millions throughout the lower Nile valley today.

A Traveller's History of Egypt - Harry Ades is a Cambridge-educated historian and travel writer

A Traveller's History of Egypt
A Traveller's History of Egypt

This book is a super resource from the eyes of a historian and traveler.

Ancient Egypt has gripped the popular imagination like no other country and the lure of its pyramids and the Nile are a magnet for visitors from all over the world. This book provides a concise and fascinating journey from the country's earliest beginnings right up to the present day.

A Traveller's History of Egypt communicates the magic of the pharaohs alongside a level-headed discussion of Islam for the benefit of modern travellers.

The book will span the entire history of Egypt, from the murkiest origins of prehistory right up to the latest developments - all in a style that is as entertaining as it is well-informed. There are few books on the country that attempt this feat, but to do so is perhaps more important today than it has ever been, at a time when an understanding of contemporary Egypt is not merely an advantage for travel there, but a necessity. It will make sense of the major controversies and guide the reader carefully where Egyptologists cannot agree - whether it is the dates of certain kings or the positioning of whole dynasties. A full chronology of major events, a cross-reference historical gazetteer, a list of pharaohs, rulers and presidents, a bibliography, index and historical maps, will add to its accessibility, and afford it the most useful elements of a reference book.

 

Egyptian Sun God

The land of Egypt was the gift not only of the Nile but of the sun, which was visible all day in a cloud-free, mist-free sky. The slow, undeviating cycle of the sun was Egypt's life-beat, setting the rhythm of every man's day. Thus the Egyptians worshipped, above all other deities, the sun-god.

Traveling the Nile River - The best in travel writing

Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff
Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff

The journey she takes in the book is not so much about what she sees along the way. Like Florence Nightingale, Flaubert, and other earlier visitors to Egypt, whose travel writings she includes in the book, she focuses on how travel "washes one's eyes and clears away the dust." Illumination comes in the form of talks with the people she meets, and what they reveal is often a kind of perplexed dismay at the cultural ironies that weigh down the spirit and generate a longing for a life that is always elsewhere. Until the final pages, rowing down the Nile itself turns out to be mostly uneventful. Then a late-night encounter with another traveler on the river galvanizes all the pages leading up to it into an eye-clearing vision of what some would call a collision of cultures. Finally, this is a disturbing book that haunts one long afterwards with post-colonial images of a world strangely adrift and - what's the word for it - foreign.

 

Nile River History and Nile River Facts

Land of Ghosts and Spirits

The ancient Egyptians knew no other world but their long river valley, a secure 'oasis' walled in between the broad desert wastes which only occa­sional raiding Bedouin tribes would venture to cross. The world beyond it meant little to them, and the source of the Nile was unknown to them beyond the fact that it was located in an unfamiliar 'Land of Ghosts and Spirits' somewhere to the south.

At first the river was believed to gush forth from the underworld through a mythical cavern above the First Cataract. But early in the 3rd millennium a military expedition into Nubia, beyond the First Cataract, showed that the river rose in remoter African lands hundreds of miles to the south.

It was not until the 19th century that the source of the Nile was finally discovered. The Blue Nile pours out of Lake Tana, in the Ethiopian highlands, and passes over a series of cataracts and rapids to join the mainstream of the river, the White Nile, at Khartoum. From here these waters run distinct for a while, side by side in the same bed, more grey and green than white and blue; they finally merge and, fed by only one more stream, the Atbara, flow unbroken for 1600 miles to the Mediterranean.

The River Nile, a Gift to Civilization

Nile River History

British administration led to the co-ordinated construction of dams and barrages throughout the length of the Nile, from the great lakes to points close to the river's two mouths at Rosetta and Damietta. This control of the waters was designed to replace the old system of basin irrigation by one of perennial irrigation.

The conversion was accom­plished in an area that covered five-sixths of the cultivated land of Egypt, permitting the growth of two or more crops each year instead of one, as before, and facilitating the production of cotton, which needs water at a season when the river is naturally low. The old Aswan Dam-completed by the British in 1902 and heightened twice since then -conserves water in the flood season and releases it as the flow abates, thus affording an even supply. Thanks to this, the lower Nile valley is today onr of the most intensively cultivated agricultural area in the world.

Thus if Egypt is still, as in the days of Herodotus, essentially an acquired country, 'the gift of the river', it is a country more than ever acquired by man, through his progressive subjugation of its waters. The Nile valley is in truth a gift to civilization by the people of Egypt themselves.

Nile River From Ancient History Forward - The period of this book stretches from about 4000 BC into the present

001: Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization (Exploding the Myths)
001: Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization (Exploding the Myths)

This is truly a book that needs to book on the book shelves of every school library and in the hands of all teachers, whether they teach european history(plagarized african history) or are an african american studies teacher! Every parent also needs to add this to their book shelves and teach their children what the system won't! Don't be blind anyomore and stand up and take your place as the Pharoahs and Queens that we ARE!

 
Early Egyptians Using a System of Weights and Poles Called Shadoofs to Get Water from the Nile
Early Egyptians Using a System of Weights and Poles Called Shadoofs to Get Water from the Nile | Source

Before You Travel

Before you travel to the Nile or Egypt in general, make sure you have checked to see if you need any extra vaccines or medication. Also, found out if you need a Visa or if your Passport is enough documentation to travel there.

© 2008 Paula Atwell

What have you learned about Nile River History? - Have you ever been to the Nile River?

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    • Paula Atwell profile image
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      Paula Atwell 3 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      @Jodah No need to prove it to me! LOL. But that kind of thing can be missed after you read your own work over and over.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      No problem Paula will do. Just proving that I read the hub :)

    • Paula Atwell profile image
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      Paula Atwell 3 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      @eogranny I learn a lot by reading other people's work as well. Thanks for learning. ;)

    • Paula Atwell profile image
      Author

      Paula Atwell 3 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      @Jodah Thanks for noticing that. I didn't see it but wasn't looking for it. It must have happened during the transfer some weird coding issue. I think I removed them all. If you see another, please let me know. :)

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Interesting! One of the things I love about exploring sites like HubPages is that I never know when I will get a little history lesson, or geological or astronomical or biological lesson. It is always fun to run across a page like this.

      I had long ago forgotten there ever was such a tributary as the Blue Nile or its significance. Now I think it would be fun to learn more about that branch of the river.

      Thank you for sharing your fascination with this part of the world.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Looks like I am the first to comment since this article became a hub, ( not a lens). Very interesting and great info about the Nile. Just one question, what is the "A" with the ^ over it in the middle of words throughout the article? It was a little off-putting. I am still getting used to the Amazon promotion on lenses as opposed to hubs, but other than that, great hub.

    • Paula Atwell profile image
      Author

      Paula Atwell 4 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      @Baddew Fibes: Glad I could help. :)

    • Baddew Fibes profile image

      Baddew Fibes 4 years ago

      Thank you for all the info. This has helped my son with his history homework, along with educating me too. :)

    • Max Globe profile image

      Max Globe 4 years ago

      Very interesting lens

    • Joebeducci profile image

      Joebeducci 4 years ago

      Very interesting lens about the Nile, congrats on your purple star. I love geograpy and learning new things, thank you for providing the info! Greets, Joebeducci

    • seodress profile image

      seodress 4 years ago

      Really enjoyed reading about Nile. Great lens

    • rajkumarrr lm profile image

      rajkumarrr lm 4 years ago

      Most of the Tombs are nearer to the Nile river and that too at the eastern side of the river.

    • Mr Criminology profile image

      Bigwas 4 years ago from Philippines

      I am currently working in Egypt right now and living beside the nile river and yet I am unaware of those information mentioned above, nice lens.

    • JerryWojo profile image

      JerryWojo 4 years ago

      Wonderful lens. The Nile is truly amazing. Thank you. :)

    • profile image

      chickie99 4 years ago

      would love to go to egypt --- just not safe anymore

    • EliasZanetti LM profile image

      EliasZanetti LM 4 years ago

      Wonderful and so informative lens regarding the great Nile River.

      I hope that Nile will survive - we're causing so much pollution that all the water on this planet is in danger.

    • Mr Criminology profile image

      Bigwas 4 years ago from Philippines

      I am presently living in giza, nile river today is not what it used to be, perhaps the new government will devote more attention to it as egypt is a primarily tourist country.

    • J-Nevil LM profile image

      J-Nevil LM 4 years ago

      This was absolutely fascinating, thank you for your hard work.

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      dellgirl 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this information on The Nile River - History and Facts. ~Blessed~

    • maryseena profile image

      maryseena 4 years ago

      only in books and movies!

    • opatoday profile image

      opatoday 5 years ago

      Been there it was a trip of a lifetime

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      nice lens great information:)

    • profile image

      xtianfriborg13 5 years ago

      Beauty of nature! Excellent lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      It's interesting to know that it is Africa's longest river. Thanks for this article.

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 5 years ago from Perth UK

      An excellent Lens - very informative. I've added it to our featured lenses, do come and have a look when you get time. Thanks again.

    • profile image

      windblowertm 5 years ago

      Truly a great Lens. Thank you for sharing. I have worked and lived in Egypt, so I know how beautiful the Nile really is :) I Love this Lens.

    • rooshoo profile image

      rooshoo 5 years ago

      I would love to visit the Nile so much. When I was little I really wanted to be an Egyptologist (weird, I know). Thanks for the informative lens.

    • Essentially Ind profile image

      Essentially Ind 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for sharing the history regarding to the great Nile River...........:)

    • Freestuffer LM profile image

      Freestuffer LM 5 years ago

      Cool! Very informative lens

    • profile image

      Traveller579 5 years ago

      Very interesting information on Nile River in Egypt. Thank you.

    • TriciaLymeMom profile image

      TriciaLymeMom 5 years ago

      Great lens. I would love to see the Nile some day. :)

    • profile image

      lookupphonenumber 5 years ago

      Thank you for this great lens. Ancient regional history is always interesting! Thanks for introducing with some good books as well!

    • profile image

      DDLewis 5 years ago

      Great resources for additional reading on the Nile!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing, this is an pretty nice lens.

    • profile image

      TravelEase 5 years ago

      Overwhelmed by all the facts, history and geography of the Nile. Great work.

    • melissiaoliver profile image

      melissiaoliver 5 years ago

      I've never been on the Nile, but would love to visit it someday. This is such a great lens, you've put an incredible amount of detail in here!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have indeed been on the Nile, on both the classic 7-day Luxor to Aswan cruise and on a day trip from Luxor to Dendera. With respect to the latter, which took place in December, I could not believe how COLD it can be sailing up the Nile at 7am!

      The Aswan dam has had terrible implications. In particular, it has messed up the water table in the Delta and made full excavation of some potentially important sites there impossible. It is also apparently causing many other problems according to the Egyptian guide I had on a tour round the Delta some years ago. As he put it, because the Nile has been blocked, Hapi [ancient Egyptian god of the Nile] is no longer happy and is expressing his anger by punishing the land.

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      MegaLED 5 years ago

      I'll come for diving :)

    • AstroGremlin profile image

      AstroGremlin 5 years ago

      The life's blood of a civilization that lasted thousands of years. When the Nile flooded, it inundated the land and erased boundaries. I've read that redrawing the land boundaries gave rise to geometry and mathematics.

    • GregoryMoore profile image

      Gregory Moore 5 years ago from Louisville, KY

      I've never been to the Nile, but it amazes me how much that river supported the entire region.

    • craftycollector profile image

      craftycollector 5 years ago

      Yes, I stayed in Luxor, ancient Thebes, and had a wonderful time on both banks of the River, visiting the Valley of the Kings, Karnak, Luxor, and several monasteries in the desert, as well as villages, camel markets. The only problem was the constant harassment of the Bakshish demanded by all and sundry.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      I've never been, but I hope to one day. Blessed!

    • EbooksFreeWeekl1 profile image

      EbooksFreeWeekl1 5 years ago

      I think about Cleopatra and then Moses for some reason. Nice lens!

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 5 years ago

      Great Lens-Blessed

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      What an amazing lens. Love your in depth coverage, blessed.

    • craiger-m profile image

      The Hatter 5 years ago from Great Britain

      Went on the Nile last year, awesome!

    • mariaamoroso profile image

      irenemaria 5 years ago from Sweden

      I really would like to go to the Nile and follow a guided tour. Interesting lens!

    • Totus Mundus profile image

      Totus Mundus 5 years ago

      Very nice lens on an interesting topic.

    • bilafond lm profile image

      bilafond lm 5 years ago

      This is one River which signifies Africa and sometimes people forget it is not synonymous only with Egypt. This River has seen history and if one follows it all the way one is truly illuminated

    • Morgannafay profile image

      Morgannafay 5 years ago

      The Nile river and Egypt have been on my bucket list for a good long time, but I still haven't had the chance to go there. But for now I can let fine pages like this take me on a virtual trip. :)

    • rawwwwwws lm profile image

      rawwwwwws lm 5 years ago

      Great lens, and good information!

    • Sher Ritchie profile image

      Sher Ritchie 5 years ago

      I've featured your lens on my Egyptian quiz lens: https://hubpages.com/education/akhenaten-by-cyril- . Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      gradientcat 5 years ago

      I've never been there. I didn't know that it took so long to find the source.

    • Lareene profile image

      Lareene 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Always interested in anything connected with Egypt good info thanks.

    • ogrote profile image

      ogrote 5 years ago

      great lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      That it was a Long river valley and takes up half of Africa

    • janicemiller lm profile image

      janicemiller lm 5 years ago

      I haven't been to the Nile yet, but it is on my list of places I would like to visit before I die.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Wow really great lens. I haven't been to Nile myself yet, but did some white water rafting on the Zambezi. Really great.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I haven't been to the Nile River but it someday i like to

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 5 years ago

      Fascinating article! I've never been to the Nile, but after reading this, I'd love to.

    • JK Sterling profile image

      Jim Sterling 5 years ago from Franklin, Tennessee

      What an excellent lens, thank you.

    • profile image

      KatherineWakefield 5 years ago

      great informational lens!

    • profile image

      BedlinenDirectLtd 5 years ago

      this is a great post and very informative.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 5 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I have not lived by the Nile River, but I am fascinated by rivers. I'll be doing lenses of rivers in the Missouri, Arkansas Ozarks region. Thanks for a great model! ;-)

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      Excellent lens and very educational!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Interesting lens. Thanks for the information. I discovered a lot about Nile River.

    • profile image

      tlaeno 5 years ago

      4150 miles long! Wow! Very interesting reading!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      THIS REALLY HELPED ME WITH MY PROJECT ABOUT THE NILE RIVER THANK YOU SO MUCH

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks for the great info really helped me in my project.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      nice info

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      bullyingstatistics 5 years ago

      I had never really planned on visiting Africa at any point in the near future...but now I may have to change my mind!

    • profile image

      kendrafowler 5 years ago

      I was always fascinated by the Nile. In fact Africa is a continent that thrills me in every possible way. Nile, I will definitely ride on you sometime!! Very nice write up. Felt like I was traveling through the region!

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      E L Seaton 5 years ago from Virginia

      I am not certain, I have been to Cairo Egypt, seen the pyramids, ridden a camel and visited an oasis, but strangely, I have no memories of the Nile river. Great lense though. Maybe next time.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you for wonderful history and facts about Nile River

    • grflgrfl profile image

      grflgrfl 5 years ago

      Visiting Egypt and the Nile are on my to-do list. Thank you for the wonderful write-up.

    • JackieSonia profile image

      JackieSonia 5 years ago

      Wow! Interesting lens. I haven't been to the Nile River but it sounds like a lovely place with a lot of history. Thanks for sharing. Have learned a few things I didn't know.

    • girlfriendfactory profile image

      girlfriendfactory 5 years ago

      I haven't been to the Nile River, but it's been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. I was lucky enough to see two traveling museum tours of ancient pharaohs though. One when Ramses II was in the USA 25 years ago and then when Tutankhamun came this last time (missed it the first time). It may be the closest I get to Egypt...that and the Internet. This was a lovely historical lens! Well done and very deserving of a Flyby Winging! :) ~Ren

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      nelsonkana 5 years ago

      Nice lens here. Am taking a tour of top lenses. This is one of them. I like it.

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      VillaDejaBlue 5 years ago

      Nice lens.

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      gemjane 5 years ago

      Wow! This is interesting! Thanks.

    • Vallygems1 profile image

      Vallygems1 5 years ago

      Very Informative Thank You

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 5 years ago

      Thanks for creating this really informative lens ... nicely done!

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 5 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Great and informative lens! Thanks for sharing!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I didn't get a chance to finish it all but wanted to come back and read the rest, I have never been there but thoroughly enjoyed this story

    • Bob Schroeder profile image

      Bob Schroeder 6 years ago

      I was in Egypt 5 years ago and took a foru day cruise down the Nile. I was amazed at the temples along the way. The history that took place along this river is mind boggling. I enjoyed this lens because it brought back many great memories.

    • waldenthreenet profile image

      waldenthreenet 6 years ago

      Nile River, history, culture and nature come together now and centuries ago. A startling place much yet to be learned. Thanks for sharing.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      So glad I found this nice lens. I really enjoyed this lens. Thanks for sharing. Squid-liked!

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      Dress2Impress 6 years ago

      Cool. Very interesting information on the Nile. The river has so much rich history it's insane!

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      MyDestination 6 years ago

      Very interesting and some great facts

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      abrahamgpg 6 years ago

      Never been there. But hope to go see all the excellent places soon.

      Thanks for a great informative lens.

    • TrentAdamsCA profile image

      TrentAdamsCA 6 years ago

      Wonderful work -- I appreciate the details of how controlling the Nile has affected cultivation. Terrific illustrations, too. I haven't been to the Nile, yet.

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      Lindrus 6 years ago

      Thanks for your lens! I've done a Nile cruise and really enjoyed it.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      My husband and I were there in the Nile cruising and I just could not believe I was in the ancient seat of civilization. I thought of how the first people lived there.

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      food monkey 6 years ago

      I liked the lens and enjoyed the history

    • OldStones LM profile image

      OldStones LM 6 years ago

      Great article on the history of the Nile river. Egypt is definitely on my list of must see places.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      returning reader!

    • TZiggy profile image

      TZiggy 6 years ago

      Very educational and easy to read about the Nile River. I like how this lens is laid out.

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      Nancy Tate Hellams 6 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I sure enjoyed reading more about the Nile River. I didn't know the history. Thanks.

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      kimmanleyort 6 years ago

      I have always wanted to visit Africa. I think knowing the history of the Nile River would be a great way to get ready for it. Beautifully presented. Blessed.

    • pcgamehardware profile image

      pcgamehardware 6 years ago

      I have never been to the Nile River, but would like to go sometime.

      This is a great lens with unique information and deserves a blessing.

      Thanks for sharing... Blessed by Big Joe