Endonyms of the World’s Watersheds

Endonyms of the World's Watersheds, by Jordan Engel

Endonyms of the World’s Watersheds, by Jordan Engel

A watershed (or sometimes called a drainage basin) is an area of land where the surface water drains to a single point, which is normally the mouth of a river. Each basin in this map is labelled with the river which drains that area, or for some basins which drain to a lake rather than the sea (called endoheic basins), it is labelled with the terminal lake. Many rivers and lakes have a multitude of names in different languages. The names that appear on this map, however, are all endonyms. An endonym is the name for a geographic location in the language of the people who live there. It is contrasted with an exonym, which is a place name in the language of people who are not native to that place. For the purposes of this map, the name that appears is from the native language that is most widely used in each basin. There is no reliable population data for watersheds, so there was some estimation involved in determining what the largest native language community is in each basin. This map is a work in progress, so corrections and additions are very welcome!

Thank you to Arden Ogg, César Pérez, Charles Lippert, and others who have shared their knowledge.

List of basins in order of area:

Amazon River: Amarumayu (Runa Simi [Quechua])
Congo River: Ebale Kɔ́ngɔ (Lingála)
Nile River: النيل (العَرَبِيةُ [Arabic])
Mississippi River: Ȟaȟáwakpa (Dakȟótiyapi [Dakota])
Ob River: Обь (Русский язык [Russian])
Paraná River: Ysyry Parana (Avañe’ẽ [Guarani])
Yenisei River: Енисей мөрөн (Монгол [Mongolian])
Lake Chad: Sádǝ (Kanuri)
Lena River: Өлүөнэ (Саха тыла [Sakha])
Niger River: Oshimiri Orimiri (Igbo)
Amur River: Тамур (эвэды торэн [Even])
Mackenzie River: Dehcho (Denesuline [Chipewyan])
Yangtze River: 长江 (中文 [Chinese])
Aral Sea: Orol Dengizi (Oʻzbekcha [Uzbek])
Volga River: Во́лга (Русский язык [Russian])
Zambezi River: Rwizi Zambezi (ChiShona [Shona])
Lake Eyre: Kati Thanda (Arabana)
Indus River: دريائے سِندھ (اُردُو [Urdu])
Nelson River: ᑭᐦᒋ ᓰᐱᐩ (ᐃᔨᔨᐤ ᐊᔨᒧᐎᓐ [Cree])
Murray River: Millewa (Ngarrindjeri)
St. Lawrence River: Gichigami-ziibi (Anishinaabemowin [Ojibwe])
Ganges River: गंगा (हिन्दी [Hindi])
Orinoco River: Irinuku (Karìna Auran [Carib])
Yellow River: 黄河 (中文 [Chinese])
Orange River: Gariep (Khoekhoegowab [Khoekhoe])
Tarim Basin: ئۇيغۇرچە) تارىم ئويمانلىقى [Uyghur])
Yukon River: Kuigpak (Yugtun [Central Yup’ik])
Mekong River: ទន្លេមេគង្គ (ភាសាខ្មែរ [Khmer])
Jubba River: Wabiga Jubba (Af-Soomaali (Somali])
Danube River: Dunărea (Română [Romanian])
Shatt al-Arab (Tigris-Euphrates): شط العرب (العَرَبِيةُ [Arabic])
Tocantins River: Ysyry Tukãtĩ (Avañe’ẽ [Guarani])
Okavango River: Okavango (Setswana [Tswana])
Colorado River: Tónítsʼósíkooh (Diné bizaad [Navajo])
Kolyma River: Халыма (Саха тыла [Sakha])
Columbia River: Nch’i-wána (Sħáptənəxw [Sahaptin])
Brahmaputra River: ব্ৰহ্মপুত্ৰ নদ (বাংলা [Bengali])
São Francisco River: Opará (Tupí)
Rio Grande: Tooh Baʼáadii (Diné bizaad [Navajo])
Dnieper River: Дніпро (українська [Ukrainian])
Lake Balkhash: Балқаш Көлі (Қазақша [Kazakh])
Don River: Дон (Русский язык [Russian])
Limpopo River: Lebêpê (Sesotho sa Leboa [Northern Sotho])
Senegal River: Dexub Senegaal (Wolof)
Irrawaddy River: ဧရာဝတီမြစ် (မြန်မာဘာသာ [Burmese])
Pearl River: 珠江 (粵語 [Cantonese])
Volta River: Esubɔnten Volta (Akan)
Uruguay River: Ysyry Uruguái (Avañe’ẽ [Guarani])
Khatanga River: Хатанга (Русский язык [Russian])
Indigirka River: Индигиир (Саха тыла [Sakha])
Northern Dvina River: Се́верная Двина́ (Русский язык [Russian])
Parnaíba River: Paranã Aíb (Tupí)
Pechora River: Печӧра (Коми кыв [Komi])
Salween River: သံလွင်မြစ် (မြန်မာဘာသာ [Burmese])
Hai River: 海河 (中文 [Chinese])
Godavari River: गोदावरी नदी (मराठी [Marathi])
Colorado River (Argentina): Kellü Lhewfü (Mapudungun [Mapuche])
Neva River: Нева́ (Русский язык [Russian])
Churchill River: ᒥᓯ ᓂᐱᐩ (ᐃᔨᔨᐤ ᐊᔨᒧᐎᓐ [Cree])
Krishna River: కృష్ణా నది ([Telugu])
Magdalena River: Chiliti Mayu (Runa Simi [Quechua])
Yana River: Дьааҥы (Саха тыла [Sakha])
Liao River: 辽河 (中文 [Chinese])
Ural River: Жайық (Қазақша [Kazakh])
Ogooué River: Ogowe (Fang)
Fraser River: Lhtakoh (Dakeł [Carrier])
Olenyok River: Өлөөн (Саха тыла [Sakha])
Rhine: Rhein (Deutsch [German])
Kura River: Kür (Azərbaycanca [Azerbaijani])
Vistula: Wisła (Polski [Polish])
Rufiji River: Rufiji (Kiswahili [Swahili])
Huai River: 淮河 (中文 [Chinese])
Salado River (Buenos Aires Province, Argentina): Chadi Lhewfü (Mapudungun [Mapuche])
Chao Phraya River: แม่น้ำเจ้าพระยา (ไทย [Thai])
Cuanza River: Kwanza (Kimbundu)
Ruvuma River: Ruvuma (Chi(ni)makonde [Makonde])
Taz River: Таз (ненёця” вада [Nenets])
Elbe: Elbe (Deutsch [German])
Red River (Asia): Sông Hồng (Tiếng Việt [Vietnamese])
Thelon River: ᑰᒃ (ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ [Inuktitut])
River Mahanadi: ମହାନଦୀ (ଓଡ଼ିଆ [Oriya])
Río Grande de Santiago: Keri Yurekua (P’urhépecha [Purépecha])
Koksoak River: ᑰᔾᔪᐊᖅ (ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ [Inuktitut])
Rio Negro (Argentina): Kurü Lhewfü (Mapudungun [Mapuche])
Lake Turkana: Anam Ka’alakol (Ng’aturk(w)ana [Turkana])

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One thought on “Endonyms of the World’s Watersheds

  1. A very cool map!

    But what is with the Siberian rivers having their Russian colonial names, while all American rivers have native names?

    Like

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