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a river in Africa. Length, about 2,600 km; basin area, 1.33 million sq km. Its sources are in the Congo-Zambezi plateau of Zambia, 1,100 m above sea level. The rivers and lakes of the Zambezi basin lie in the territory of Zambia, Southern Rhodesia, Malawi, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia, and Botswana. The most important tributaries are the Lungue-Bungo, Luanguinga, Linyanti (Chobe; in the upper and middle reaches, Cuando), Umniati, and Leungue on the right and the Kabompo, Luena, Kafue, Luangwa, and Shire on the left. In isolated years and seasons the Okovanggo (Cubango) River is united with the Zambezi basin. One of the largest African lakes—Lake Nyasa (Malawi)—belongs to the Zambezi basin.
In its upper reaches the Zambezi flows through the Barotse Plain, with a small drop (averaging 0.2 m per km over 1,200 km). There is a series of rapids and waterfalls, including the Ngonye Falls, 100 km below the influx of the Luanguinga River. Below, the Zambezi again flows over the flat, very marshy Sesheke Plain. The Victoria Falls are 75 km below the Linyanti (Chobe) River’s influx into the Zambezi. Lake Kariba (area, 5,200 sq km) stretches to Kariba. Between Zumbo and Chicoa the valley broadens; below Chicoa there is a section of rapids (particularly, the Kebrabassa rapids).
In its lower reaches the Zambezi has, as a rule, a broad valley and a broad river bed (5–8 km with the exception of Lupata Gorge). After receiving the Shire River, the Zambezi flows across the Mozambique Plain. The delta begins 120 km from the Mozambique Channel, where the Zambezi empties. The sole navigable arm is the Chinde; the port of the same name is on it.
The Zambezi’s water source is primarily pluvial. Spring high water, often extending to autumn, is typical. The rise of the water begins in December, reaches maximum flow in March and April, and then begins to decrease. The maximum monthly flow in any year can be more than ten times as great as the minimum. The average discharge at the mouth is 16,000 cu m per sec; the sediment discharge of the river constitutes 100 million tons a year.
The rivers of,the Zambezi basin have enormous reserves of hydroelectric energy (137 million kilowatts with the complete utilization of the flow). In the early 1970’s only an insignificant part of these reserves was being used (the only major hydroelectric station is at Kariba, on the border between Zambia and Southern Rhodesia, 705,000 kilowatts). The construction of a hydrotechnical complex on the Cabora-Bassa was begun in the lower reaches of the Zambezi (in Mozambique). A number of hydrotechnical projects have been elaborated for the Kafue, Shire’, and other rivers. Little use is made of the waters of the Zambezi basin for irrigation. Navigation is complicated by the presence of rapids and significant seasonal fluctuation in the water flow, and it exists only on separate, isolated sections. The main navigable sections are in the territory of Zambia. There is fishing in the rivers and lakes of the Zambezi basin, expanded by the creation of the Kariba Dam.
REFERENCESDmitrevskii, lu. D.Vnutrennie vody Afriki i ikh ispol’zovanie. Leningrad, 1967.
Dmitrevskii, lu. D. “Zambezi.”Uch. zap. Vologodskogo pedinstituta, 1959, vol. 24.
Wellington, J. H.Southern Africa: A Geographical Study, vols. 1–2. Cambridge, 1955.
IU. D. DMITREVSKII