The Reasons and Meaning Behind the Euphrates River Drying Up: 2024 Outlook

Euphrates River
© Sadik Yalcin/

Written by Nixza Gonzalez

Updated: October 26, 2023

Share on:


Listen to Article

The Euphrates River is one of the oldest and most important rivers in the world. A lot of history was made at this river. The Euphrates River runs through parts of western Asia but is drying up. The river has had problems in the past with lowering water levels, but why? And what is the importance of the Euphrates River? Some people connect the river drying up to the end of the world, but does this hold? Keep reading to discover the reasons and meaning behind the Euphrates River drying up.

Euphrates river

The Euphrates River is one of the oldest and most important rivers in the world.


About the Euphrates River

The Euphrates River begins in Turkey but flows through Syria and Iraq. The river joins the Tigris before it empties into the Persian Gulf. It’s about 1,700 miles long and the basin’s average size is 190,000 square miles. This river is the longest in Western Asia. Typically, there is a higher water level from April to May since there is more rainfall and melting runoff. Original vegetation also still survives along the river. For example, the Euphrates River flows through a xeric woodland in the mountains of Southeast Turkey. You can also find an array of plants and trees along the river’s coast including rose/plum, pistachio trees, and oaks. In drier environments, cereal grains like wheat, rye, and oat are common.

Not only is the Euphrates River beautiful with breathtaking sights, but there is a lot of historical significance centered around the river. For example, multiple ancient cities lived along the riverside, including Sippar, Nippur, Shuruppak, Mari, Ur, and Urkuk. Water was wealth. It provided fertile agricultural soil for the communities along the river.

The first time the Euphrates River was mentioned was in cuneiform texts found in Shuruppak and pre-Sargonic Nippur. It dates to the mid-3rd millennium BCE. It was referred to as Buranuna, an ancient Sumerian word. The river is spelled similarly to Sippar, an ancient city located in modern-day Iraq. The city and the river were likely connected in importance and divinity.

Animals in the Euphrates River

river otter sticking tongue out

River otters are one of the mammalian forms of wildlife that depend on the Euphrates

© Burditt

The Euphrates River is home to many types of animals including snakes, small and large mammals, and fish. Not only are there different animal species, but also wildflowers and plants. For instance, the most common snakes in the Euphrates River are Persian sand vipers, Levantine vipers, desert black vipers, beaked sea snakes, and yellow sea snakes. Willow trees and wild grass grow on the riverbank. Apart from plants, you can also see shrews, river otters, wolves, hedgehogs, and wild pigs. They frequently drink water from the Euphrates River.

Yellow-bellied sea snake washed up on the beach

Yellow-bellied sea snakes are common in the Euphrates River.

©John Fader/

There are also local bird species that live and use the Euphrates River. Some of the more common birds include:

  • crows
  • vultures
  • storks
  • geese
  • babblers
  • hawks
  • eagles
  • flacons
  • scrub warblers.

There are also local bird species that live and use the Euphrates River, including the



©Matrishva Vyas/

Why is the Euphrates River Drying Up?

Drought in Iraq

The Euphrates River has been drying up for years, but why? Some of the many reasons why are the multiple dams, droughts, water policies, and misuse.

©John Wreford/

The Euphrates River has been drying up for years, but why? Some of the many reasons why are the multiple dams, droughts, water policies, and misuse. Many families in Iraq that rely on the river are desperate for water. The number one reason that the Euphrates River is drying up is low rainfall. In Iraq, they are battling the worst drought they’ve ever seen. Along with droughts, Iraq and the surrounding area also suffer from climate change and rising temperatures. This has been a problem for decades. Over 7 million people are affected by the river drying up. Because of low rainfall, high temperatures, and the drying of the river, crops are failing, which has led to over 800 families leaving the villages around the Euphrates River. Sadly, the Tigris, another biblical river, is also losing water and drying out.

The Meaning and Symbolism of the Euphrates River

The Euphrates is a long river that symbolizes, to some, the end of the world. In the Christian bible, the Euphrates River is significant. This river, when it dries out, is a sign that the end times are coming. This is a prediction of what will happen right before the apocalypse. According to some people, the Garden of Eden was located between the Tigris and the Euphrates. Although it’s not certain if the drying of this river symbolizes the end of the world, it is trouble for those that live near the river and rely on it for water and agriculture. There are no fast solutions to fill up the Euphrates River, especially with record-low yearly rainfall.

What Year is the Euphrates River Expected to Fully Dry Up?

The Euphrates River’s dwindling water levels and the risk of drying up by 2040 have raised concerns, as highlighted in a 2021 climate report. This worrying trend is attributed to a combination of factors, including declining water levels and droughts, which are believed to be exacerbated by the impacts of climate change.

While the Euphrates River hasn’t yet completely dried up, it has witnessed significant fluctuations in water levels over time. The river’s lowest water levels have consistently coincided with periods of drought.

Where Is the Euphrates River Located On a Map?

The Euphrates River can be easily located on a map by looking to the West of the Tigris River in Iraq. The town of Hilah is found close by, with the capital city of Baghdad being situated just offshore from the Tigris.

Share this post on:
About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.