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Pontoon crossing at Mango Landing, Essequibo River
Map of the Essequibo drainage basin

The Essequibo River ("Spanish: Río Esequibo) is the largest river in "Guyana, and the largest river between the "Orinoco and "Amazon. Rising in the "Acarai Mountains near the "Brazil-Guyana "border, the Essequibo flows to the north for 1,014 kilometres (630 mi) through "forest and "savanna into the "Atlantic Ocean. With a total "drainage basin of 69,300 sq.km (26,757sq.mi) with average discharge of 74,303 cu ft/s (2,104 m3/s).



The river runs through the "Guianan moist forests ecoregion.[1] There are many "rapids and "waterfalls (e. g., "Kaieteur Falls on the "Potaro River) along the route of the Essequibo, and its 20-kilometre (12 mi) wide "estuary is dotted with numerous small "islands. It enters the Atlantic 21 kilometres (13 mi) from "Georgetown, the capital city of Guyana. The river features "Murrays Fall, "Pot Falls, and "Kumaka Falls.

Its many tributaries include the "Rupununi, Potaro, "Mazaruni, "Siparuni, Kiyuwini, "Konawaruk and "Cuyuni rivers. For over 30 kilometres (19 mi) from its mouth, the river's channel is divided by the large flat and fertile islands of "Leguan, about 28 square kilometres (11 sq mi), "Wakenaam, about 44 square kilometres (17 sq mi), and "Hog Island, about 60 square kilometres (23 sq mi). Fort Island is off the eastern side of Hog Island. Fort Island was the seat of government of the country during the Dutch colonial era.


The river has a very rich fauna. More than 300 fish species are known from the Essequibo "basin, including almost 60 "endemics.[2] This may be an underestimate of the true diversity, as parts of the basin are poorly known. For example, surveys of the upper "Mazaruni River found 36–39 species (variation in number due to "taxonomy), of which 13–25% still were "undescribed in 2013.[3] At least 24 fish species are resticted to Mazaruni River alone.[3]

During floods the headwaters of the "Branco River (a part of the "Amazon basin) and those of the Essequibo are connected, allowing a level of exchange in the aquatic fauna such as fish between the two systems.[4]


The first European discovery was by the ships of "Juan de Esquivel, deputy of "Don Diego Columbus, son of "Christopher Columbus. The Essequibo River is named after Esquivel. In 1499 "Alonso de Ojeda explored the mouths of the Orinoco and allegedly was the first European to explore the Essequibo. Capuchin missionaries established missions in the territory before the Dutch settled along Esquivel's River. In 1596 "Lawrence Kemys, serving as second-in-command of "Walter Raleigh's British expedition to Guiana, led a force inland along the banks of the Essequibo River, reaching what he wrongly believed to be "Lake Parime. The next year Kemys, in command of the Darling, continued the exploration of the Guiana coast and the Essequibo river.

The first "European settlement in Guyana was built by the "Dutch along the lower part of the Essequibo in 1615. The colonists remained on friendly terms with the "Native American peoples of the area, establishing riverside "sugar and "cacao plantations.["citation needed] In a document detailing instructions for the Dutch Postholder in Cuyuni, it was mentioned that Indians (Venezuelan "Amerindians) trading in Chinese slaves to sell to people who lived along the Essequibo river were to be allowed to conduct their business.[5][6]

The Independence war of Venezuela beginning in the 19th century ended the missionary settlements. At this time, Britain needed to have a colony, besides Trinidad, to serve the large trade sailboats on their large travel trading route around South America. "Venezuela claims that the Essequibo is the true border between it and Guyana, claiming all territory west of it. The boundary was set between Venezuela and Guyana's then colonial power, "Great Britain in 1899 through an arbitration proceeding. A letter written by Venezuela's legal counsel, named partner Severo Mallet-Prevost of "New York City law firm "Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle alleged that the Russian and British judges on the tribunal had acted improperly and granted the lion's share of the dispute territory to Britain due to a political deal between "Russia and the "United Kingdom. As a result, Venezuela has revived its claim to the disputed territory.

"Essequibo is also the name of a former "Dutch "colony founded in 1616 and located in the region of the Essequibo River that later became part of "British Guiana.

In August 1995 there was an acid spill in the river by the Canadian mining company "Cambior. An estimated 4 million cubic metres (140,000,000 cu ft) of waste laced with "cyanide was released into the river causing much destruction.



Sponsored by the Royal Geographical Society the German researcher Robert Hermann Schomburgk (1804-1865) investigated the river Essequibo and followed its course to the South -West, while Sipu River flows to a westerly direction. He specified the coordinates of the source at 0°41`northern latitude, while not giving a longitude.[7]


In 1908 the German-American ichthyologist Carl H. Eigenmann traveled on river Essequibo and confluent Potaro. He described 336 fish species in these rivers.[8]


Leaving Gunns to the unexplored wilderness
The Expedition Team at the Source of Sipu River.

A Guyanese-German expedition in Guyana in April and May 2013 followed the course of the Sipu River to detect the still unknown headwaters of the Essequibo. It was sponsored by the French-German TV Company ARTE and was organized by Duane De Freitas, Rupununi Trails and the film production team of Marion Pöllmann and Rainer Bergomaz, Blue Paw Artists. The responsible scientist for remote sensing, geodesy and mapping was Prof. Dr. Martin Oczipka from the University of Applied Scienes Dresden (HTW Dresden). The expedition was only realizable with the support of the Guyanese government and the indigenous tribe of "Wai-Wai-Amerindian settling in the very South of Guyana.

close to the source area of sipu river

With the support of the Wai-Wai, satellite maps, topographic maps, GPS and a small drone, the source valley was discovered in 2013. The coordinate determined by expedition teams in 2013 deviates by approximately 40`, which corresponds to a distance of at least 80 km north. This could be caused by calculation errors or other mistakes. Possibly he followed a different branch of the river more in the South of Guyana. To further investigate this, additional research is necessary, preferably in the original reports of Robert Hermann Schomburgk from his expedition in 1837/38. For the accurate determination of the headwaters and their proper classification, further extensive geological and hydrological studies are necessary.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schipper, Jan; Teunissen, Pieter; Lim, Burton, Northern South America: Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, northern Brazil, and eastern Venezuela (NT0125), retrieved 2017-04-03 
  2. ^ Hales, J., and P. Petry: Essequibo. Freshwater Ecoregions of the World. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b Alofs; Liverpool; Taphorn; Bernard; and Lopez-Fernandez (2013). "Mind the (information) gap: the importance of exploration and discovery for assessing conservation priorities for freshwater fish". Diversity and Distributions. 20 (1): 1–7. "doi:10.1111/ddi.12127. 
  4. ^ Quinn, J.A.; and S.L. Woodward, eds. (2015). Earth's Landscape: An Encyclopedia of the World's Geographic Features. 1. p. 142. "ISBN "978-1-61069-445-2. 
  5. ^ Venezuela (1898). Venezuela-British Guiana Boundary Arbitration: Appendix, pts. 1-2: Documents from Dutch sources. Documents from Spanish sources. The Evening post. p. 127. Retrieved 2010-07-14. 
  6. ^ United States. Commission to investigate and report upon the true division line between Venezuela and British Guiana (1896). Report and accompanying papers of the Commission appointed by the President of the United States "to investigate and report upon the true divisional line between the republic of Venezuela and British Guiana". Govt. print. off. p. 248. Retrieved 2010-07-14. 
  7. ^ Schomburgk, Robert Hermann (1841). Robert Hermann Schomburgk's Reisen in Guiana und am Orinoko. Während der Jahre 1835-1839. Nach seinen Berichten und Mittheilungen an die geographische Gesellschaft in London. Leipzig: Otto Alfred Schomburgk. p. 317. 
  8. ^ Eigenmann, C. H.; Calvert, Philip P.; Carriker, M.A. Jr. (1910). Annals of the Carnegie Museum Volume VI. 1909-1910. Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Institute: Holland, W.J. 

External links[edit]

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