Waterfall on the River Zambezi, on the Zambia–Zimbabwe border. The river is 1,700 m/5,580 ft wide and drops 120 m/400 ft to flow through a gorge 30 m/100 ft wide. The falls were named after Queen Victoria by the Scottish explorer David Livingstone in 1855.
Above the falls the river flows over a level stretch of basalt and is flat and broad, dotted with thickly wooded islands. At this point it is some 1.5 km/1 mi wide, and then plunges into a series of zigzagging gorges, the first of which extends the whole breadth. Its course is impeded by an opposite wall, nearly as high, the water escaping through a channel of 30 m/100 ft width through the ‘Boiling Pot’, into the Grand Canyon, spanned by a bridge. The falls, which are unspoilt, include the Devil's Cataract, the Main Falls, the Rainbow Falls, and the Eastern Cataract.
The existence of the falls was first made known to the outside world by David Livingstone in 1855, but the Victoria Falls were undoubtedly known to Catholic missionaries, who were in this part of Africa in the 16th century.
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