The Essequibo River is Guyana's longest and widest river. The river flows north through forest and savanna, including one of the world's most extensive continuous tracts of relatively pristine lowland tropical rainforest, before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Essequibo River is the longest and widest river in Guyana and the largest between the Orinoco and Amazon rivers. It reaches the Atlantic Ocean 21 km (13 mi) west of the Guyanese capital of Georgetown.
The river rises in the Acarai Mountains, a wet, forested highland region of low mountains in the southern part of Guyana, along the country's border with Brazil. The river flows generally north through eastern Guyana for approximately 1,000 km (620 mi) through forest and savanna before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Essequibo flows through the Guianan moist forests ecoregion, one of the most extensive continuous tracts of the world's relatively pristine lowland tropical rainforests. Its system drains more than half of Guyana. The Essequibo's tributaries include the Rupununi, Potaro, Mazaruni, Siparuni, Kiyuwini, Konawaruk, and Cuyuni rivers.
Rapids and waterfalls break the Essequibo through much of its course. Waterfalls include Murrays Fall, Pot Falls, Kumaka Falls and Waraputa Falls.
Numerous islands are in its 32 km- (20 mi-) wide estuary. For over 30 km (19 mi) from its mouth, the river's channel is divided by the predominantly flat and fertile islands of Leguan, about 28 sq km (11 sq mi), Wakenaam, approximately 44 sq km (17 sq mi) and Hogg, about 60 sq km (23 sq mi).
Fort Island is off the eastern side of Hogg Island and was the country's government seat during the Dutch colonial era. Bartica is the main town on the river and is vital for the movement of gold, diamonds, and timber.
The river has a vibrant fauna. More than 300 fish species are known from the Essequibo basin, including almost 60 endemics. However, this may underestimate the true diversity, as parts of the basin are poorly understood.
Map depicting the Essequibo River drainage basin