Rio Grande

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The Rio Grande (known in Mexico as the Río Bravo del Norte, or simply Río Bravo) is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes. According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, its total length was 1,896 miles (3,051 km) in the late 1980s. Depending on how it is measured, the Rio Grande is the fourth or fifth longest river system in North America.[2] It serves as a natural border between the U.S. state of Texas and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas. A very short stretch of the river serves as the boundary between the U.S. states of Texas and New Mexico. The tremendous water use of big cities and vast irrigated acreage along the river has taken a heavy toll on the river's flow; less than a fifth of its historical discharge reaches the sea today. Near the river's mouth, the heavily irrigated Rio Grande Valley is an important agricultural region.

The Rio Grande's watershed is 182,200 square miles (472,000 km2)[4] Many endorheic basins are situated within, or adjacent to, the Rio Grande's basin, and these are sometimes included in the river basin's total area, increasing its size to about 336,000 square miles (870,000 km2).[6]

Contents

Geography

The Rio Grande rises in the eastern part of the Rio Grande National Forest in the U.S. state of Colorado. The river is formed by the joining of several streams at the base of Canby Mountain, just east of the Continental Divide. From there, it flows through the San Luis Valley, then south into New Mexico, passing through Espanola, Albuquerque, and Las Cruces to El Paso, Texas. Below El Paso it serves as part of the border between the United States and Mexico. The official river border measurement ranges from 889 miles (1,431 km) to 1,248 miles (2,008 km), depending on how the river is measured.[2] A major tributary, the Rio Conchos, enters at Ojinaga, Chihuahua, below El Paso, and supplies most of the water in the border segment. Other well-known tributaries include the Pecos and the smaller Devils, which join the Rio Grande on the site of Amistad Dam. Despite its name and length, the Rio Grande is not navigable by ocean-going ships, nor do smaller passenger boats or cargo barges use it as a route. It is barely navigable at all, except by small boats in a few places.

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