The Mississippi River flows through just one country: the United States. Beginning at Lake Itasca in Minnesota, the river winds its way over 2000 miles through the center of the country before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Mississippi is a major world river system because of its length, biological productivity and habitat diversity. When combined with the Missouri River, which flows into the Mississippi, the Mississippi River is the fourth-longest river in the world, behind only the Nile, the Amazon and the Yangtze Rivers. At its headwaters, the Mississippi's average surface speed is around 1.2 miles per hour.