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African Rivers

HydroRIVERS represents a vectorized line network of all global rivers that have a catchment area of at least 10 km² or an average river flow of at least 0.1 m³/sec, or both. HydroRIVERS has been extracted from the gridded HydroSHEDS core layers at 15 arc-second resolution. The global coverage of HydroRIVERS encompasses 8.5 million individual river reaches with an average length of 4.2 km, representing a total of 35.9 million km of rivers globally. HydroRIVERS only includes a limited amount of (mostly geometric) attribute information, such as the river reach length, the distance from upstream headwaters and ocean outlet, the river order, and an estimate of long-term average discharge. Every river reach is also co-registered to the sub-basin of the HydroBASINS database in which it resides (via a shared ID).

RCoE Action:

Lehner, B., Grill G. (2013). Global river hydrography and network routing: baseline data and new approaches to study the world’s large river systems. Hydrological Processes, 27(15): 2171–2186.


The line network datasets of HydroRIVERS are distributed both in ESRI® ‘geodatabase’ and ‘shapefile’ formats. Each HydroRIVERS shapefile consists of five main files (.dbf, .sbn, .sbx, .shp, .shx), and projection information is provided in an ASCII text file (.prj). All HydroRIVERS data layers are provided in geographic (latitude/longitude) projection, referenced to datum WGS84. In ESRI® software this projection is defined by the geographic coordinate system GCS_WGS_1984 and datum D_WGS_1984.

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