The Essequibo River is the longest and widest river in Guyana. The river flows north through forest and savanna, including one of the largest continuous tracts of relatively pristine lowland tropical rain forest in the world, 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 located in the southern part of Guyana which lie 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 largest continuous tracts of relatively pristine lowland tropical rain forest in the world.
Its system drains more than half of Guyana. The Essequibo's many tributaries include the Rupununi, Potaro, Mazaruni, Siparuni, Kiyuwini, Konawaruk and Cuyuni rivers.
The Essequibo is broken by rapids and waterfalls through much of its course. Waterfalls include Murrays Fall, Pot Falls, Kumaka Falls and Waraputa Falls.
Numerous islands are located 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 largely flat and fertile islands of Leguan, about 28 sq km (11 sq mi), Wakenaam, about 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 seat of government of the country during the Dutch colonial era. Bartica is the main town located on the river and is important for the movement of gold, diamonds and timber.
The river has a very rich fauna. More than 300 fish species are known from the Essequibo basin, including almost 60 endemics. This may be an underestimate of the true diversity, as parts of the basin are poorly known.
Map of the Essequibo River drainage basin