The Mississippi River is part of the Missouri-Mississippi river system, which is the largest river system in North America and among the largest in the world: by length (6,300 km), it is the fourth longest, and by its average discharge of 16,200 m³/s, it is the tenth largest.

The Mississippi flows 3770 km  from its source at Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. While the Mississippi ranks as the second longest river in the United States after the Missouri River, it carries a greater volume of water than any other American river. This map, illustrating the three major rivers of the central United States, shows that the Missouri converges with the Mississippi near St. Louis, and the Ohio converges with the Mississippi in southern Illinois.

The river is divided into the upper Mississippi, from its source south to the Ohio River, and the lower Mississippi, from the Ohio to its mouth near New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Mississippi River runs through 10 states and was used to define portions of these states' borders. The middle of the riverbed at the time the borders were established was the line to define the borders between states. The river has since shifted, but the state borders of Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi have not changed; they still follow the former bed of the Mississippi River as of their establishment.

The name Mississippi is derived from the language spoken by the Ojibwe people (A Native American people)  misi-ziibi ("Great River") or gichi-ziibi ("Big River").  


1. The Mississippi River is the 4th longest river in the world. What are the three longest rivers? Find out here

2. By average discharge, the Mississippi is number 10 in the list. Which river is number 1? Find out here

3. Look at the map and answer the questions: 


1. The Mississippi River starts in which northern state?
2. Into which large body of water does the Mississippi River flow?
3. In which state does the Mississippi River end?
4. Does the Mississippi River flow: north to south, south to north, east to west, or west to east?
5. If you cross the Mississippi River from Kentucky, in which state are you?
6. Which state is just east of Louisiana?
7. Which state is just north of Missouri?
8. Which state borders Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Indiana?
9. What country is north of Minnesota?
10. Which state borders the Mississippi River, Lake Superior, and Lake Michigan?