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A river in eastern Africa, the confluence of the Blue Nile and the White Nile, which flows northwards through Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean, and which is the longest river in the world; the search to discover the true source of the Nile was pursued by a number of 19th-century explorers. It was in the course of such a journey that David Livingstone (see Dr Livingstone, I presume) was for a time lost.

Nile is one of the oldest geographical names in the world, and comes via Latin from ancient Greek, and probably ultimately from Semitic–Hamitic nagal ‘river’. It was called Ar or Aur ‘black’ by the ancient Egyptians, referring to the colour of the sediment when it is in full flood.

Subjects: History

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