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What are some facts about the Mississippi River?

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Quick Answer

At 2,350 miles long, the Mississippi River is the third longest river in North America. It originates at Lake Itasca and deposits water into the Gulf of Mexico. The narrowest part of the Mississippi River is between 20 and 30 feet across and is located near the beginning of the river at Lake Itasca. The widest part of the river, at Lake Winnibigoshih in Minnesota, is over 11 miles across.

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Full Answer

There are approximately 260 different species of fish that live in the Mississippi River. The river and its flood plain house over 60 different species of mussels, more than 50 mammal species and over 145 different species of amphibians and reptiles. The fourth largest watershed in the world belongs to the Mississippi River. It covers parts of 31 states, 2 Canadian provinces and approximately 40 percent of the land area of the contiguous United States. The water's average surface speed is approximately 1.2 mph, though this speed increases to close to 3 mph in New Orleans. The average human walking speed is nearly three times the average surface speed of the Mississippi River. The river is used to transport goods and dispose of residential and commercial waste; it also contributes to the water supply of communities along the length of the Mississippi.

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