Zambezi zămbē´zē [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.
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