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Interactive: 10 Proud Rivers and Their Humble Sources

 Most of my favorite places in the world stand out in beauty and romance thanks to their ululating, magisterial rivers. They often come to define the world's great cities, blending in with the local architecture and bridges. But how do these amazing rivers actually begin their journeys? Here we will show you what the (possibly) 10 greatest rivers actually look like at their sources.
 
Since every effect has a cause, it's logical to seek the origin of a river. But this quest can take us back many hundreds of miles to a mountain, or very obscure little place, with just a small amount of water. From these inauspicious and under appreciated locations begins a marvelous journey, where a little stream gathers more and more waters from various places until it pours out into the ocean. 
 
1. The Mississippi (USA/Canada)
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The long search for the 31-state-long river Mississippi's source eventually settled on Lake Itasca. Despite its native sounding name, the word Itasca is a modern creation based on two Latin words, veritas (truth) and caput (head). Taking the end of the first word and combining it with the first syllable of the second leads to the lake's name, and signifies it's designation as the 'true head' of this most wonderful river. This lake has been declared the official beginning of the Mississippi.
2. The Nile (Egypt/North Africa)
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The source of the Nile, the world's longest river, stretching through 11 nations, is a matter of some controversy. However, several places have emerged as the likeliest contenders for the coveted title. Here pictured is the Rukarara river which starts in Rwanda's Nyungwe Forest. This river is a tributary of the Mwogo River, which is itself tributary to the Nyabarongo River, which then brings us to the Nile proper.
3. The Ganges (India)
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The sacred river of the Hindus, the Ganges, begins way up in the Himalayan mountains. From here flows the Ganges' tributary Bhagirathi River. It comes out of the Gangotri Glacier at a location known as 'cow's mouth.'
4. The Thames (England)
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This most dramatic of English rivers actually has its origins, so the theory goes, near the Gloucestershire town of Cirencester, by an ash tree in the village of Kemble. As you can see, the location is pretty dry, though at times during the year a little spring and pool can be seen. It's amazing that such a vast river starts so humbly.
 
5. The Danube (Central/Eastern Europe)
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Though the Danube itself is said to originate at the confluence of two minor rivers, the Brigach and the Breg, this really can not be considered the true source by any curious person. Instead we have to seek the source of the Breg, which is the larger of the two rivers that becomes the Danube. This source is located in the Black Forest region of Germany near castle Donaueschingen. 
6. The Amazon (South America)
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Tracing back from the giant Amazon river, the world's largest by discharge, takes us past the Maranon, the Ucayali, the Rio Apurimac, the Apacheta, the Quebradas Carhuasanta to a place called Nevado Mismi. Here is a glacial stream located thousands of feet above sea level, which comes from a snowy peak. The site is marked by a simple wooden cross. 
7. The Rhine (Central/Western Europe)
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The impressive Rhine, notable for the wonderful Wagner opera Das Rheingold, is considered to begin at Lake Toma where the Rein da Tuma flows out into the Vorderrhein. 
8. The Volga (Russia)
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The Volga is not much celebrated beyond Russia, where it is cherished as a national symbol. It is, though, in fact Europe's greatest river. The river begins its humble journey high above sea level at the village known as Volgoverkhovye, which is marked by a 20th century church and shrine. The area has long been considered a place of healing.
9. The Yellow River (China)
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The Yellow River has always been loved by patriotic Chinese and regarded as the cradle of Chinese civilization, roughly equivalent to the importance of the Nile in Egyptian history. Here is its official source at the Bayan Har Mountains at the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. The simple stone tablet commemorates the humble location of this awesome river.
10. The Zambezi (Africa)
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The cloud of vapor you can see in the first picture here is actually where the Zambezi descends as Victoria Falls, an extremely popular tourist spot, for obvious reasons. This river lies in the center of deepest Africa. This magnificent river begins as a tiny bubbling stream in a jungle in Zambia. This place is also a tourist spot, such is the attraction and fascination which the Zambezi inspires in African explorers.

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