Mississippi River Facts For Kids | Third Largest Basin

iveThe Mississippi river system is the largest drainage basin in the North America, draining 41% of the states of America. It flows through the heart of United States. The river is ranked as the third largest basin in the world—only after Amazon and Congo Basins. It starts from the Lake Itasca in Minnesota and runs almost 3,800 km south, while coming across dozens of tributaries on its way such as Red Rivers, Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas, finally ends up in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mississippi River Facts For Kids


The speed of water is not same throughout the river. At the headquarters, the water hardly flows more than 1.2 miles per hour—just greater than the walking speed of humans. However, at the New Orleans it flows as fast as 3 miles per hour.


The river runs as the tenth largest river in the world but the precise length is rather difficult to measure. The geologists at the source in Itasca State Park measures that the river is 2,552 miles long, however, according to the US Geological Survey the length is 2,300 miles (3,705 km).


Like the water speed, the width of the river also varies significantly. At the source in Lake Itasca State, the width measures around 20 to 30 feet but the river channel continuously changes. At the Lake Onalaska, the Mississippi is 4 miles wide. Similarly, at some places like in LaCrosse Wisconsin, the water is seized by the dams and as it turns out the width increases.

Depth and Water Discharge

The Mississippi is only 3 feet deep at its headquarters but the deepest portion falls in between Algiers Point and Governor Nicholls Wharf where the water is as deep as 200 feet. During the rainy season, the Mississippi discharges the maximum water of 3,000,000 cubic feet per second while at the minimum side, it releases 159,000 cubic feet per second.


At the Lake Itasca, the river is as high as 1,475 feet above sea level while at its mouth which is in the Gulf of Mexico the elevation drops to Zero above sea level. Most of the drop takes place within Minnesota.

Fish and Animals

The Mississippi River is home to 241 fish species alongside 292 bird species that flies across it. Around 57 mammals are found in the river along with 45 reptile species; 40 species of mussels; 45 species of amphibians, and a number of invertebrates.

Did You Know…? Mississippi River Facts For Kids

The river has 29 dams and locks built on it, but all are not numbered.

Native Americans were the first settlers who establish themselves near the Mississippi River.

The river runs through the states of Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Arkansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Missouri.

Lake Itasca is the source of the river while Gulf of Mexico is the mouth.

Mississippi covers 1,151,000 sq. miles.

It is divided into Upper, Middle, and Lower Mississippi rivers.

Alonso Alverez de Pineda, a Spanish Explorer is thought to have discovered the mouth of Mississippi in 1519.

It has 221 bridges that go across the river.

The first bridge on the river was built in1856 and it connected the Davenport (Iowa) to Arsenal Island.

The total population at the Mississippi Basis is 71 million out of which 58 percent lives in urban areas. There are 6 people per square kilometer.

The river flows at its peak (66,400 m3 per second) in the months of March and May as a result of 1,800 mm of annual rainfall. However, August and October the flow is relatively low at 2,400 m3 per second.

The river is located in Clearwater County, MN (Lake Itasca).

‘Makoce Cokaya Kin’ is the place where Mississippi River meets the Minnesota River.

Learn more: Native American Facts

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