Rivers are used for transportation, irrigation, generating energy and performing work, such as turning waterwheels. Rivers are also vital sources of fresh water for both industrial and residential applications.
Two of the most prolific uses for rivers are power generation and irrigation. Hydroelectric dams use rivers to spin turbines that are connected to generators, and nuclear power plants use a constant flow of river water to help cool reactors. River water is also pumped into farms and nurseries to irrigate crops and other vegetation and is used to develop and irrigate previously arid locations.
Rivers all over the world are vital transportation links, though they are used more for industry purposes than commuting. Rivers are ideal highways for shipping, and they also provide a link between inland areas and the ocean. However, many of the world's busiest river systems are also popular recreational and vacation attractions for locals and tourists.
Rivers are also used by nature as habitats for wildlife, flora and freshwater marine life. In addition, rivers are the watersheds, or drainage systems, for the land. Streams and creeks merge and eventually join rivers on their path to the ocean, effectively draining away all of the excess surface water from the land.