Euphrates River

Euphrates River, originating in eastern Turkey from the convergence of Western and Eastern Euphrates or Kara Su and Murat Su, is one of the longest and most historically important rivers in Western Asia. Running northwest to southeast, the Euphrates River lies north of both Jordan and Kuwait, extending through Syria and Iraq until it merges with the Tigris and becomes Shatt Al Arab, a short waterway that empties into the Persian Gulf. Over the course of history, from its very beginnings, the Euphrates River has supported life of all kinds, from the smallest creatures to the greatest civilizations.

Euphrates River History

Euphrates River History

Euphrates River History

Throughout history, rivers have been a source of life; the great waterways around the world have supported entire civilizations, including the Euphrates River, dating back to the Paleolithic period, with the earliest evidence of human population limited to the upper reaches of an area known as the Fertile Crescent, where the land remained moist and fertile in an area where the environment was otherwise dry and arid. Ancient History saw much growth in populations and developments of city-states.

Much of the Euphrates basin became united for the first time under the Akkadian and Ur III empires. The following centuries experienced a shift in power between Babylon and Assyria, as well as several other empires. The shifting game continued into Neo-Babylonian and Neo-Assyrian periods until the Achaemenid Empire gained control and maintained power over the region. Centuries passed, and Alexander the Great swept the area, defeated King Darius III, the last king of the region, and went on to claim the area as his empire. In the modern era, boundaries changed, control shifted, and agreements were developed to ensure a positive effect on the surrounding civilizations and environments of the Euphrates River.

After World War I, the Ottoman Empire was divided; the three main states that emerged from this development included Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. Decades later, dams were constructed in Turkey and Syria, which led to an international crisis with Iraq, which threatened to bomb one of the dams. At length, bilateral treaties and agreements were reached and signed to ensure a steady flow of water throughout the course of the river and maintenance of the water in the Tigris-Euphrates basin. Construction of hydropower stations, irrigation developments, and water transportation along the Euphrates has created a source of capital for the valley, and it has improved living conditions in outlying areas as well, bringing fresh water and electricity to regions that would otherwise remain undeveloped.

Euphrates River Course

Euphrates River Course

Euphrates River Course

The Euphrates River begins at the confluence of the Kara Su and Murat Su Rivers, which are also respectively known as the Western Euphrates and Eastern Euphrates. Tributaries feed into the river along its entire length; the major contributors include Sajur River, Balikh River, and Khabur River. The greater part of the Euphrates River extends through Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, stretching over 3,000 kilometers, from commencement to convergence. The Shatt al-Arab River, where the Euphrates and Tigris merge, brings the waters of both waterways over the remaining 90 to 120 miles, emptying into the Persian Gulf. 

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