What Are The Geographic Features Of The Mississippi River


The Mississippi River is the second longest river in the United States and the fourth longest in the world. It flows southward for 2,319 miles between the states of Minnesota and Louisiana, eventually pouring into the Gulf of Mexico. The river is considered to be a significant natural resource due to its abundant water and the ability to irrigate vast areas of land.


The Mississippi River has many tributaries that feed it. The main tributaries are the Missouri River and the Mississippi River proper, which also contribute to its length. Other important tributaries include the Ohio River, the Upper Mississippi, the Arkansas, the Red River and the Yazoo River. Tributaries can be divided into two categories: major tributaries which originate in the upper basin and lesser tributaries, which originate in the lower basin.


The Mississippi River runs through several distinct geographic regions. To the north it has a wide, flat basin with a shallow, winding course. The middle of the river valley is known as the most fertile part of the basin. In this middle reach, the river has a moderate flow and many of the channels are straightened by human engineering efforts. In the south, the river narrows and has a much faster flow, with a few large pools and narrow turns. The delta is the widest part of the river, where it merges with the Gulf.


The Mississippi River watershed is made up of 31 states, including the ones from which its waters originate. Eight states border the Mississippi River and together make up the heart of the watershed. The watershed is fed from the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachian Mountains and the Ozarks on the way to the Gulf of Mexico. This extensive watershed is the third largest in the Unites States, covering about 1.25 million miles.


Due to its many tributaries and wide flow rate, the river is used extensively for navigation and transportation. The Mississippi is home to many barges and other vessels that transport people, goods and services along the river. The U.S. Corps of Engineers built a nine-foot-deep channel in the Upper Mississippi, making it easier for vessels to travel the river. The Corps also constructed many locks and dams along the river and its many tributaries to help regulate the flow of water and help navigate larger vessels.


One of the most common natural disasters in the United States is flooding of the Mississippi River. This occurs when the river overflows its banks and inundates nearby land. This has caused extensive property damage and claims several lives. In order to mitigate the risk of flooding, the U.S. Corps of Engineers has undertaken several levee and levee extension projects. This helps to regulate the strength of the river’s flow and allows for a more efficient use of the water for transportation, irrigation and other uses.

Economic Impact

The Mississippi River and its watershed provide invaluable resources to millions of Americans. Farming, fishing, timber production and energy production are just a few of the many industries that rely on the river. It is also a major source of tourism income in many states along its course. The Mississippi River has also been a source of inspiration for writers, musicians, and other creatives.


The Mississippi River is a haven for wildlife. It provides a habitat for many species of waterfowls, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Furthermore, it is a critically important migration corridor for birds and other wildlife. The Mississippi is home to many endangered species, including the Pallid Sturgeon, the Piping Plover and the Lake Sturgeon.

Water Quality

The water quality of the Mississippi River has been a major concern for many years. Pollutants from agricultural runoff, industrial and domestic waste have contaminated the river and its tributaries. The U.S. EPA has identified the Mississippi River from Minnesota to New Orleans as one of the most polluted rivers in the country. In response, many states and organizations have implemented programs to reduce pollution and restore the water quality of the river.


The Mississippi River is one of the most popular recreational destinations in the United States. People come from all over to take part in activities such as fishing, boating, camping, and hunting. The river is also used as a scenic backdrop for festivals, parades, and music concerts. The Great River Road, a system of roads and highways along the river, is a popular destination for sightseers, cyclists, and antique shoppers.


Navigating the Mississippi River is not without its hazards. There are strong currents and significant height fluctuations, between floods and droughts, that can have an impact on navigation. In addition, the river has sharp turns and sandbars, which can be very dangerous for inexperienced boaters. Other dangers of the river include severe and frequent storms, extreme temperatures, and dangerous wildlife.

Environmental Impact

The Mississippi River is an important resource for people and the environment alike. Unfortunately, it is also a major source of water pollution, largely due to runoff from businesses and industries in the watershed. This has led to an increase in harmful algae and other pollutants. The Corps of Engineers, in cooperation with the EPA, have initiated several programs and projects to improve the quality of the water and reduce the environmental impacts of the river.

Raymond Strasser is a passion-driven writer and researcher, dedicated to educating readers on the topic of world rivers. With a background in Geography and Environmental Studies, Raymond provides insightful pieces which explore the impact and importance that rivers have around the world.

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