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  • Writer's pictureGunnar Garfors

The Riverless Countries of the World


The world’s biggest riverless country.

I bet you will never guess how many countries lack rivers. The biggest of them is even the 12th biggest country in the world. And it is far from being alone. Perhaps not surprisingly given that Tuvalu’s highest point is only 5 meters above sealevel. That is still more than twice as high as the highest “peak” of the Maldives.




Do note that I am talking about countries without any permanent rivers. In Arabic and Hebrew such a dry riverbed even has its own name: wādī. It is traditionally used for a valley, but heavy rainfall may turn it into a temporary river or stream.

No rivers in Tonga either.

18 riverless countries exist, perhaps most notably Saudi Arabia which is over two million square kilometers. That is over three times the size of France or 25 % bigger than Alaska! Then again, keep in mind that 95 % of the country is desert. 18 countries is 9 percent of the world’s 198 countries. Surprisingly high, I thought.

Most of the countries do furthermore not have any high mountains, although six countries have mountains that reach at least 1000 meters into the sky. Mountains do not guarantee a river, clearly. Yemen tops that particular list and is the the highest countries without any rivers. Some claim to fame.

Countries listed by their highest point, lowest country first.


Tuvalu’s highest “mountain” is only 5 meters above sea level.

Maldives – 2 meters

Tuvalu – 5 meters

Marshall Islands – 10 meters

Bahamas – 63 meters

Nauru – 71 meters

Vatican – 75 meters

Kiribati – 81 meters

Qatar – 103 meters


Bahrain – 122 meters

Monaco – 161 meters

Malta – 253 meters

Kuwait – 306 meters

Tonga – 1033 meters

United Arab Emirates – 1910 meters

Comoros – 2360 meters

Saudi Arabia – 3000 meters

Oman – 3009 meters

Yemen – 3666 meters

Source: Wikipedia

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