The Blue Nile (Amharic: ዓባይ; transliterated: ʿAbbay but pronounced Abbai, Arabic: النيلالأزرق an-Nīl al-Azraq) is a river originating at Lake Tana in Ethiopia. With the White Nile, the river is one of the two major tributaries of the Nile. The upper reaches of the river is called the Abbay in Ethiopia, where it is considered holy by many, and is believed to be the River Gihon mentioned as flowing out of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2.
According to materials published by the Ethiopian Central Statistical Agency, the Blue Nile has a total length of 1,450 kilometres (900 mi), of which 800 km (500 mi) are inside Ethiopia. The Blue Nile flows generally south from Lake Tana and then west across Ethiopia and northwest into Sudan. Within 30 kilometres (19 mi) of its source at Lake Tana, the river enters a canyon about 400 kilometres (250 mi) long. This gorge is a tremendous obstacle for travel and communication from the north half of Ethiopia to the southern half. The power of the Blue Nile may best be appreciated at Tis Issat Falls, which are 45 metres (148 ft) high, located about 40 kilometres (25 mi) downstream of Lake Tana.
Although there are several feeder streams that flow into Lake Tana, the sacred source of the river is generally considered to be a small spring at Gish Abbai, situated at an altitude of approximately 2,744 metres (9,003 ft). This stream, known as the Lesser Abay, flows north into Lake Tana. Other affluents of this lake include, in clockwise order from Gorgora, the Magech, the Northern Gumara, the Reb, the Southern Gumara and the Kilte.Lake Tana’s outflow then flows some 30 kilometres before plunging over the Tis Issat Falls. The river then loops across northwest Ethiopia through a series of deep valleys and canyons into Sudan, by which point it is only known as the Blue Nile.