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Types and Significance of Water Divide

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  • Last Updated : 23 Sep, 2022
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Any elevated area or highlands or uplands, such as a mountain, a hill, a plateau, a terrain, or any other land area higher than the land in its surrounding, separates the two water basins and divides the basin into two parts. Such highlands are known as the water divide. Water divides are also known by various names such as watersheds, ridgeline, water parting, and land elevations.

On rugged lands, the splits are along the ridges of the terrain and can take the form of a single chain of hills or mountains known as dividing range or split chains.

Types of water divide

Different types of water divide are characterized on the basis that how the water divide converges. There are basically three types of water divide which are:

  1. Continental Water Divide
  2. Major Water Divide
  3. Minor Water Divide
  • Continental Water Divide: Continental divide, is a division of water where water on both sides flows into different seas.Example – Congo-Nile divide.
  • Major Water Divide: The major divide is that in which the water on either side never meets, but instead converges on the same sea or ocean. Example – Yellowriver basin and the Yangtze.
  • Minor Water Divide: Minor divides are where the water eventually flows into the confluence of rivers on both sides of it. Example – Mississippi River and Missouri drainage Divide.

Significance of Water Divide

These divisions can occur due to the valleys, and districts that cause tribes and groups of people to settle in banks. The importance of the water divide is as follows: 

  • It forms a boundary between the two valleys. Precipitation is received separately from both valleys. This prevents the two bodies of water from interfering with each other and flowing separately.
  • Sometimes water divide can form natural boundaries that can be defined as political boundaries between two countries or two cities of a particular country.

Example of Water Divide

One of the famous examples is the Western Ghats. The Western Ghats are mountains that run parallel to the west coast of the Indian Peninsula and are entirely in India. It forms the Major basin on the peninsula. Most of the major rivers on the peninsula, such as the Godavari, Krishna, and  Kaveri rivers, flow east and fall into the Bay of Bengal. Several small streams and rivers, such as Savitri, Terekhol, Periyar, Pamba, Netravali, Sharavathi, etc. flow west of the Western Ghats into the Arabian Sea.

The Western Ghats can be considered an example of the Continental Water Divide because the water basins on both sides of it fall into different water bodies or seas. Other examples of Water Divide are as follows:

  1. Ambala City: Ambala district of Haryana serves as the water divide between the Ganga River Basin and the Indus River Basin.
  2. Vindhya Range: Vindhya Range divides the Ganga Drainage Basin and Narmada River Valley.
  3. Himalayas Range: The mountain Himalaya acts as a water divide because it separates the rivers flowing in the Himalayan ranges and the rivers flowing in the Trans Himalayan ranges.
  4. Satpura Range: Satpura Range is a water divide that divides the Narmada River Valley and Tapi drainage basin.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: Write about Aravali Water Divide.


The Aravali lies in the north-western direction. The Aravali hills located on the plateau to the east of Aravalis are Rajasthan Alwar Range. Aravali acts as a water divide between the Ganga River and the Narmada River. It acts as a major water resource and it is commonly  used for agricultural activities.

Question 2: How many rivers are there in India?


India has many rivers. There are more than 400 large and small rivers, which can be divided into 23 large basins and 200 small  basins. There are more than 400 large and small rivers, which can be divided into 23 large basins and 200 small  basins.

Most commonly known rivers are Ganges, Brahmaputra, Godavari River, Mahanadi River, Indus River, Kaveri, Narmada, Krishna, Yamuna, Tapi, Sutlej, Beas, Chambal, Sabarmati, Jhelum, Tungabhadra, Penna, Chenab, Koshi, Gomati, Betwa, Periyar, Bhima, Damodar, Ghagra, Subarnarekha, Looni, Hooghly, Mandovi, Vaigai, Painganga, Sharavathi, Hemavati, Ravi, Mahi, Manjra, Bhagirathi, Alaknanda, Indravati etc.

Question 3: Which river divides the southern plateau into two parts?


The Narmada River and the Vindhya Range divide the Deccan Plateau into two parts. The upper part is known as the Central Highlands and the lower part is known as the Deccan Plateau.

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