Difference Between River and Creek

Main Difference – River vs Creek

River and Creek are two natural water bodies that help to circulate our planet’s water and provide important habitats to a variety of plant and animal species. Though theses two sources of water differ from each other, there is no official or scientific classification to identify the difference between  river and creek. However the main difference between river and creek is, a creek is generally smaller and shallower than a river. In this article, we’ll be discussing the features of a river and a creek separately, thereby understanding the general difference between them.

What is a River

A river is a natural stream of water, flowing towards the ocean, sea or another river. A river might begin from melting ice masses or glaciers or underground streams, but they are mostly formed from rain or snow that fall down in places with high altitudes. Most of the rivers on earth contain freshwater.

It is interesting to note that most of the cities, towns as well as the ancient civilizations (Nile valley, Ganges civilization, Hueng He civilization, etc.,) are built around rivers. This is because rivers can be used for various purposes. The soil on either side of the river is fertile and is good for cultivation. Rivers are good sources of freshwater fish and can be also used for transportation.

A river can either have a single stream of water or several streams of water connected with each other. Sometimes a river joins with another river to form a much larger river. A river can also have smaller branches, and they are known in different names such as stream, brook, rivulet, creek, etc.difference between river and creek

What is a Creek

A creek can be described as  a small body of flowing water. However, it should be noted that the meaning of the term ‘creek’ slightly differs in different countries. In North America, New Zeland and Australia, a small or a medium size stream is called a creek. In the United Kingdom and India, a creek is a narrow inlet to the sea. A creek is often shallow and flows into a large body of water. Though creeks are said to be smaller than rivers, there are some creeks in the world that are larger than rivers.creek vs river

Difference between River and Creek


River: River is a large body of water

Creek: Creek is often smaller and shallower than a river


River: River flows in channels, and have one or more branches.

Creek: Creek does not have any branches, it is on most occasions, a branch of a river


River: Rivers can be used to generate power, and they are good means of transporting large and heavy objects downstream.

Creek: Creeks are more often not large enough to generate power or  to be used for transportation.


River: River generally flows towards the sea. Most of the rivers on Earth have freshwater.

Creek: Creek can be formed by sea water.


About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.