ِِA River in South West Asia, rising in Turkey and flowing south across Syria and Iraq to join the Tigris, forming the Shatt al Arab, which flows to the head of the Persian Gulf. It was an essential natural resource in ancient times for the extensive irrigation of its valley (in Mesopotamia). Length: 3598 km (2235 miles)
The name Euphrates (Furat in Arabic) may have originated from Old Persian Ufratu, as it were from Avestan *hu-perethuua, meaning "good to cross over" (from hu-, meaning "good", and peretu, meaning "ford") .
Alternatively, some suggest that the name Euphrates is possibly of Kurdish origin. In Kurdish fererehat, means "wide flowing water".
The river is approximately 2,780 kilometers (1,730 miles) long. It is formed by the union of two branches, the Kara (the western Euphrates), which rises in the Armenian highlands of today's eastern Turkey north of Erzurum and the Murat (the eastern Euphrates), which issues from an area southwest of Mount Ararat, north of Lake Van. The upper reaches of the Euphrates flows through steep canyons and gorges, southeast across Syria, and through Iraq. The Khabur and the Balikh River join the Euphrates in eastern Syria.
A GREEK WORD MEANING 'BETWEEN THE RIVERS'. THE RIVERS ARE THE TIGRIS AND EUPHRATES WHICH FLOW THROUGH MODERN IRAQ. THE EUPHRATES ALSO FLOWS THROUGH MUCH OF SYRIA.
While Mesopotamia's soil was fertile, the region's semi-arid climate didn't have much rainfall, with less than ten inches annually. This initially made farming difficult. Two major rivers in the region -- the Tigris and Euphrates -- provided a source of water that enabled wide-scale farming.
Irrigation provided Mesopotamian civilization with the ability to stretch the river's waters into farm lands. This led to engineering advances like the construction of canals, dams, reservoirs, drains and aqueducts. One of the prime duties of the king was to maintain these essential waterways.
Trade within the Mesopotamian civilization flourished due to the trade routes developed by the Tigris and the Euphrates.
The Euphrates is drying up. Strangled by the water policies of Iraq’s neighbors, Turkey and Syria; a two-year drought; and years of misuse by Iraq and its farmers, the river is significantly smaller than it was just a few years ago. Some officials worry that it could soon be half of what it is now.