The Blue Nile:
As one of the two major tributaries to the world’s longest and arguably most famous rivers, the Blue Nile is an impressive force in Sudan Country. Originating in Lake Tana, Ethiopia, the Blue Nile joins the White Nile at Khartoum, Sudan. From this fork, the Nile continues its journey through Sudan, across Egypt and finally emptying into the Mediterranean Sea.
The Blue Nile is between 1400-1600 kilometers long and flows through gorges comparable to the Grand Canyon in depth. About 40 kilometers downstream from its source, the river experiences a phenomenal 45 m drop over Tis Issat falls.
The upper portion of the river, in Ethiopia, is often referred to as Abbai, and many believe it to be the ancient biblical river, Gihon, spoken of in Genesis as the river of the Garden of Eden. For this reason, much of the land and water around these falls is considered holy. Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, however, the landscape has an ethereal beauty that could easily be called heavenly.
Despite the fact that the Blue Nile is less than half the length of the White Nile, the impact of the blue river is significantly greater. During the rainy season, the Blue Nile is responsible for almost 60% of the Nile’s waters; this onslaught is now controlled by the Aswan High Dam to avoid the frequent flooding of the Nile Valley. Historically, the silt deposits resulting from the flooding contribute to the fertility of the land in surrounding areas and help to boost the agricultural production. This fertility is believed to have been one of the main reasons for the rise of Egyptian civilization along the Nile Valley, though the unpredictable flooding was certainly a force to be reckoned with. Today, two additional dams on the Blue Nile help to supply the majority of power and irrigation water throughout Sudan.
Blue Nile, state, is one of the 26 states of Sudan; not surprisingly, it is named after the river. The river, in turn, is named for the color of the water during the tumultuous monsoon seasons: blue or black, the words being synonymous in the local Sudanese vocabulary.
Sadly, the Blue Nile area has seen some the most violent civil wars of history and remains a very unstable political environment, at odds with the natural beauty of the environment. Regardless, the Blue Nile, and its large counterpart, the Nile, bring a degree of social, economic and political security to the country.