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Geography of the Limpopo River Basin

At 408 250 km², the Limpopo River basin is one of the largest drainage areas in the SADC region, covering large portions of Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe (LBPTC 2010).  The Limpopo River flows north from the confluence of the Marico and Crocodile Rivers, where it creates the border between South Africa and Botswana, then the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe, before crossing into Mozambique, where it runs across a broad floodplain and into the Indian Ocean.  The percentage coverage of the different countries is provided in the table below.

Area and percentage of the river basin for the four riparian states.

Country Area in each
country (km²)

of the Basin

Botswana 81 400 20 %
Mozambique 79 800 20 %
South Africa 184 150 45 %
Zimbabwe 62 900 15 %
Total 408 250  
Source: LBPTC 2010

The Limpopo River basin consists of 24 individual tributaries - 13 on the north bank and 11 on the south bank.  However, for management purposes, the Limpopo River Basin has been divided into 27 sub-basins (LBPTC 2010).  This topic is described in more detail in the Hydrology chapter and the sub-basins are addressed in the Sub-basin Summaries chapter.  This delineation of sub-basins is used by LBPTC and  throughout the entire Limpopo River Awareness Kit 

As the river basin intersects four countries, traversing various geographical regions and biomes, and supporting a wide array of water demands, there is a great need for Integrated Water Resources Management.

Chapter Summary

This chapter covers the following concepts and materials:

The geography of the landscape is an important determining factor in water resource availability and distribution.
Source: Hatfield 2010
( click to enlarge )