Length: 3,596 km / 2,235 miles
Catchment: ?? km2 / ?? miles2,
The Euphrates, with its sister the Tigris, formed the cradle of human civilisation. Their fertile banks and valleys formed the perfect springboard for developing centralised agricultural economies and the capacity for close proximity dwelling in large numbers.
This was the heartland of the first great urban civilisations - Mesopotamia, the stomping grounds of the Sumerians, Chaldeans, Babylonians, and Assyrians. The Sumerians called it Buranunu; the Babylonians, Purattu; the Persians, Ufrat - all of which mean "Great River". The current name is estimated to date from 450 BC.
Like the Tigris, the Euphrates rises in the mountains of Turkey where it is called Kara or Firat Su as it tumbles down the deep gorges. It is joined by the Murat Su and rolls on into Syria where it runs through a fairly narrow trench section, bordered on both sides by harsh desert. Further on it is joined by the Balikh and Khabur Rivers where significant agriculture has been developing for millennia.
Still 750km from the sea, the Euphrates delta is already starting to take shape. With its sister Tigris, it formed the verdant alluvial plain which bustled with life for uncountable generations but is now, for the most part, virtually desert. It passes through Lake Hammar and then joins with the Tigris proper to form the Shatt al Arab. Here too is where the ancient city of Ur - reckoned by many to be the world's oldest city - can be found and where Babylon itself was once located.
Where the water enters the sea, there is plentiful and varied sea life.