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Word Count: 386
Mississippi is an Indian word meaning Great River or gathering of water The Mississippi River is one of the worlds major rivers in size and habitat diversity It is the third longest and largest river in the world the second largest in North America It flows 3705 kilometers from its source at Itasca in the Minnesota North Woods through the mid-continent United States The Mississippi enters the Gulf of Mexico about 160km downstream from New Orleans through a 26 150-sq km delta The Mississippi River is divided into three parts the Headwaters the Upper Mississippi River and the Lower Mississippi River The average of surface speed of the Headwater of the Mississippi is near 12 miles per hour as fast as people walk The lower river which has a relatively narrow but deep channel is navigable for oceangoing ships upstream to Baton Rouge The Mississippi River and its adjacent forests and wetlands provide important habitat for fish and wildlife It includes the largest continuous system of wetlands in North America The river supports a diverse array of wetland open-water and floodplain habitats including extensive habitats on national wildlife refuges The Mississippi river and its floodplain are home to a diverse population of living things Forty percent of the nations migratory waterfowl use the river corridor during their spring and fall migration Sixty percent of all North American birds 326 species use the river as their migratory flyaway Many more animals use the river as their home The Mississippi carries an average of 436000 tons of sediment each day Over the course of a year it moves an average of 9 million tons of sediment Because of the sediments the River is threatened by a variety of pollutants Municipal industrial and agricultural pollutants have been identified in the waters and sediments of the River Also high concentrations of bacteria associated with human waste have been found downstream as a result of sewage flowing into the river
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