It includes portions of Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Zaire, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, The Sudan, and Egypt. It is estimated to drain an area of 1,293,000 square miles (3,349,000 sq. km.)The Nile receives its name from the Greek Neilos, which means a valley or river valley. The river flowed northward and flooded the lands in Egypt, leaving behind black sediment. As a result the ancient Egyptians called the river Ar or Aur (black). The Greeks and Egyptians also gave the land its oldest name Kem or Kemi, which also translates into black. The river's water and the fertile soil along its banks created the perfect setting for the evolution of the civilizations that existed in the ancient world. The ancient peoples that lived along the river's banks cultivated the art of agriculture and were one the first to utilize the plow. Throughout the year, the Nile serves as a constant source of water. This enables farming along its banks in spite of the high temperatures that occur. In those regions, especially The Sudan, where there is enough rainfall to support cultivation, the high temperatures evaporate enough of the water making irrigation necessary. In addition to its vital role in agriculture, its waterways also play a major role in transportation. During seasonal flooding it enables transportation to those areas where road access is not possible. During the 20th century, dependence on the waterways as a sole source of transportation has been reduced as facilities for air, rail and highways have expanded.
III. Economic Importance Print section Irrigation along much of the river supports the growth of agricultural products such as cotton, wheat, sorghum, dates, citrus fruits, sugarcane, and various legumes.