What are the Largest Waterfalls in the World?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

A waterfall is an unsupported drop or cascade of flowing water that is sudden and comes from a height, such as over a precipice. There are many high waterfalls in the world, and among the top thirty largest waterfalls, one can find waterfalls on every continent except Antarctica — but even Antarctica is developing waterfalls with record high temperatures.

Tugela Falls in South Africa is the second highest waterfall in the world.
Tugela Falls in South Africa is the second highest waterfall in the world.

The single largest waterfall in the world is Angel Falls in Venezuela, but overall, one would have to say that the biggest waterfalls in the world are in Norway. Norway has five of the world’s biggest waterfalls, coming in the rankings at third, fourth, eighth, ninth, and tenth.

Norway has five of the world’s biggest waterfalls, coming in the rankings at third, fourth, eighth, ninth, and tenth.
Norway has five of the world’s biggest waterfalls, coming in the rankings at third, fourth, eighth, ninth, and tenth.

The largest waterfalls on each of the continents are:

  • South America: Angel Falls in Venezuela, at 3,212 feet (979 m)
  • Africa: Tugela in South Africa at 3,110 feet (947 m)
  • Europe: Utigord in Norway at 2,625 feet (800 m)
  • North America: Yosemite in California at 2,425 feet (739 m)
  • Asia: Dudhsagar in India at 1969 feet (600 m)
  • Australia: Tin Mine in Kosciusko National Park at 1182 feet (360 m)

Of the fifteen largest waterfalls, two are glacier fed, two have their source in a creek, one in a stream, and the rest in rivers. Two of the top fifteen waterfalls are in Venezuela, two are in California — both in Yosemite National Park, and Norway can claim six.

Of the thirty largest waterfalls, eight are in Norway and seven in the United States, either in Hawaii or California. Eleven are in Europe, six are on the mainland of North America, five in South America. Four of this thirty are on islands: one in New Zealand and three in Hawaii.

The largest waterfalls in the United States, according to the World Waterfall Database, are to be found in Hawaii, Washington State, California, Montana, and Alaska, with Hawaii boasting the three highest. There are seventeen listed at 2,000 feet (610 m) or higher.

Antarctica in the only continent without waterfalls.
Antarctica in the only continent without waterfalls.
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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Discussion Comments

arod2b42

The Great Lakes vary in depth and in position. This is what creates the effect of Niagara falls. One lake is dripping into another lower lake, on a very massive scale. It is beautiful.

GigaGold

@BostonIrish

I think that waterfalls can develop over time, and also that surprisingly warm temperatures are a genuine issue in the world today. The problem with the side of "doubters" about global warming is that they tend to see the whole thing as some sort of scheme, when it is completely rational.

BostonIrish

What do you mean Antarctica is "developing waterfalls"? Aren't waterfalls usually just there or not there? It's not like there is such thing as a "half-waterfall" is there? I think that the whole global warming debate has become filled with some blurry scientific "facts" and seems to have an obvious agenda.

anon49837

These are the tallest waterfalls in the world but waterfalls are classified by the volume of waterflow and not height. The largest waterfall in the world based on volume is Inga Falls on the Congo river.

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