Zambezi (zămbēˈzē) [key], river, c.1,700 mi (2,740 km) long, rising in NW Zambia, S central Africa, and flowing in an S-shaped course generally E through E Angola, along the Zambia-Zimbabwe border, and through central Mozambique to the Mozambique Channel of the Indian Ocean, near Chinde. The upper Zambezi flows over part of the great basalt plateau of Africa; the middle Zambezi is entrenched in the plateau (Victoria Falls and Kariba Gorge are there); and the lower Zambezi flows through a wide valley. Many rapids interrupt the river's flow, making it unsuited for navigation; however, its navigable stretches are used for local traffic. Kariba Lake, impounded by Kariba Dam, and Cahora Bassa Lake, behind the Cahora Bassa Dam, are among the world's largest human-made lakes. The Zambezi's banks are fertile and well populated. The river has great hydroelectricity-generating potential; there is a small power plant at Victoria Falls, and much larger ones at Kariba Dam and Cahora Bassa Dam. The name is also spelled Zambesi and, in Angola and Mozambique, Zambeze.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.