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Origin: Estonia
Region Origin: Northern Europe

A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually a freshwater stream, that flows on the Earth's land surface or inside caves towards another waterbody at a lower elevation, such as an ocean, sea, bay, lake, wetland, or another river. Rivers are essential for various ecological functions, providing habitats for migratory fish species and enabling terrestrial ecosystems to thrive in riparian zones. They have also played a crucial role in human settlements and civilizations, with many major cities built on river banks, relying on them for drinking water, food supply, agricultural irrigation, shipping, and as natural borders or defensive terrain. The term "river" is derived from the Latin word "ripa," meaning "bank". The concept of channeled surface flow remains central to the definition of a river, although modern usage includes rivers that are multichanneled, intermittent, or ephemeral in flow and channels that are practically bankless. Small natural watercourses are sometimes called rivulets, but a variety of names, such as branch, brook, burn, and creek, are more common and occur regionally to nationally in place-names.

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