35+ Facts About The Tigris River: The Greatest River Of Mesopotamia

Supriya Jain
Sep 01, 2023 By Supriya Jain
Originally Published on Jan 09, 2022
Edited by Sarah Nyamekye
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
The word Mesopotamia means 'land between two rivers'.

Modern-day Iraq was once known in ancient times as Mesopotamia which is one of the earliest civilizations known to humankind.

The word Mesopotamia means 'land between two rivers'. In the east of it, there is the Tigris River and to its west, there is the Euphrates River.

This explains why this area offered a melting pot for early civilization. The Sumerians, the Babylonians, and the Assyrians are some other civilizations that were in this area, in addition to the Mesopotamians.

The Tigris and Euphrates River system is a great river system of southwestern Asia. It consists of the Tigris River and Euphrates River which roughly flow parallel to each other through the heart of the Middle East.

The sources of the two rivers are within 50 mi (80.4 km) of each other in eastern Turkey, further traveling via northern Syria and Iraq to the Persian Gulf. The Euphrates stretches to about 1,740 mi (2,800.2 km) and the Tigris stretches to about 1,180 mi (1,899 km).

The Tigris River originates in the hazer lake in Turkey which is a region characterized by high mountains. The river then flows parallel to the Euphrates River.

The two rivers ultimately join and flow into the Persian Gulf which is in the lowlands of an area known as the Shatt al-Arab. More than half of the Tigris River flows in Iraq. The Greater Zab, the Lesser Zab, the Al-Adhaim, the Diyala, and the Karkheh are also some other rivers that flow into it.

The Tigris-Euphrates River basin passes through Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Kuwait. Iran is the place of origin of many Tigris tributaries and a Tigris-Euphrates confluence of rivers is a part of the Iraq-Kuwait border.

Read on for more information regarding the largest dam on the river, annual freight traffic, and the environmental effects of the river in its catchment areas. Afterward, also check facts about rivers and streams and rivers of the world.


The first civilization is believed to have emerged at the place of the confluence of the Tigris River and Euphrates River.

  • The fertile crescent is the land between the Euphrates and the Tigris Rivers.
  • It was a very fertile area because it was between these two rivers.
  • The Euphrates River does not have many tributaries or branches that go off of the gripper and so it is a slow-moving river.
  • The Tigris River is a quicker-moving Bandung and it has many tributaries or branches coming off of it.
  • The area around the rivers occasionally experienced floods which used to make the dry region an arable land that eventually encouraged humankind’s earliest sedentary farming communities.
  • The agricultural methods developed eventually and during the time of low rainfall or drought, the farmers of Mesopotamia and Sumer used to dig irrigation canals from the Tigris River to water their fields.


The Tigris River also served as the main access for ancient commerce in the surrounding region. Many goods and crops were shipped via this route to other places.

  • Many empires and city-states including Lagash, Ur, the Akkadian, and the Babylonians, used this river for the transportation of troops and goods.
  • As time passed, by some natural processes caused by seasonal flooding, the water of the Tigris River became saltier.
  • It is estimated by some historians that by 2000 BC, the water in the Tigris got so salty that it became unsuitable to be fit for irrigation.
  • Yet it continued to hold its importance as a major trading and transporting route.
People in Mesopotamia region depend on Tigris River for water supply.


The flow of water in the Euphrates and Tigris River system relies heavily on the melting snow as well as winter rains in the Zagros and the Taurus mountains.

  • While flowing through the gentle slopes of Iraq and Syria, the Euphrates River loses most of its speed and has only two tributaries the Balīkh and the Khābūr.
  • Both these rivers are fed by spring rains and enter the river from the left side.
  • Due to the construction of various dams the evaporation rate in the river has increased from the large reservoirs that are present along the route.
  • When it comes to the Tigris River, it flows along a multi-channel basin which is fed by four tributaries Little Zab, Great Zab, Diyālā, and Uẓaym Rivers.
  • All of these rivers receive water from the melting snow in Turkey, Iran, and the Kurdish region of Iraq.
  • The precipitous flow of these tributaries of Tigris is the reason that the river Tigris is highly prone to floods in the short term.
  • The shorter length of the Tigris River results in the annual floods happening a month earlier than the Euphrates River.

Interesting Facts About The Tigris River

The Tigris River makes the border between Syria and Turkey and has been holding its status as a major route for a very long time in Iraq which is a largely desert country.

  • The capital of Iraq is built on the banks of the Tigris River.
  • In both countries, Turkey and Iraq, the river is heavily dammed and the water is used for irrigation in the semi-desert region of these countries.
  • Among all the dams on the Tigris, Mosul Dam is the largest in Iraq.
  • The Tigris often used to get flooded in the spring because of the melting of snow in the Turkish mountains in April.
  • The drainage basin of the river cover-up around 144,788 sq mi (374,999 sq. km) of the region.
  • The Tigris River has a diversified water ecosystem and more than 50 different types of fish can be found.
  • The area of land between the Tigris and Euphrates is called Mesopotamia which is often known as the 'cradle of civilization'.
  • During the Bronze Age, the area was the settlement of the Sumner, Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian empires.
  • During the flood season of 1954, the water level increased by eight meters.
  • The Tigris River has long been the most major waterway in the Fertile Crescent and has backed cities which included Hasankeyf, Turkey for many decades.
  • Freshwater has been used for agriculture by the local population and has also been an important route for navigation and shipping.
  • In Middle Persian, there is another word for Tigris called Arvand Rud which literally means 'swift river'.
  • The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers hold significant importance as along the banks of these rivers many civilizations flourished, the first being Mesopotamia.
  • The river travels south from the Armenian Highlands mountains in the river valley, via Syria and the Arabian Deserts, and into the Persian Gulf.
  • Finally, near al-Qurnah, the Tigris joins the Euphrates to form the Shatt al-Arab. Basra, a port city on the Shatt al-Arab river, is located on both sides of the river.
  • Many of Mesopotamia's great towns existed on or near the Tigris River in ancient times, drawing water from it to irrigate the Sumerian civilization.
  • Arvand Rud nowadays refers to the Shatt al-Arab, which is the confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. It is known as Ava Mezin in Kurdish, which means 'great water'.
  • The river Tigris flows through the river valley.
  • Ancient civilizations used to have river trade here. It flows through Southern Iraq. It has the world's largest river dam. It has a canal dug and Lake Assad. Tigris joins west Asia. This drawing water has a rich history.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for facts about the Tigris River then why not take a look at famous rivers in India, or where does the Mississippi River start and end.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Supriya Jain

Bachelor of Commerce, Master of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

Supriya Jain picture

Supriya JainBachelor of Commerce, Master of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

As a skilled member of the Kidadl team, Shruti brings extensive experience and expertise in professional content writing. With a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Punjab University and an MBA in Business Administration from IMT Nagpur, Shruti has worked in diverse roles such as sales intern, content writer, executive trainee, and business development consultant. Her exceptional writing skills cover a wide range of areas, including SOP, SEO, B2B/B2C, and academic content.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi

Postgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi Raturi picture

Sakshi RaturiPostgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi has experience in marketing strategy, social media planning, and recruiting industry experts for capstone projects, she has displayed a commitment to enhancing their skills and knowledge. She has won multiple awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation for Creative Writing and a Certificate of Merit for Immaculate Turut, and is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop.

Read full bio >