Tigris River Size report

The Tigris River (Dijla in Arabic and Dicle in Turkish) and the Euphrates River to the west jointly define Mesopotamia. It originates from the mountainous areas of Anatolia in Turkey, flows through Iraq, and finally joins with the Euphrates to become the Shatt al-Arab into the Persian Gulf. Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, is located on the west bank of the Tigris River.

The Tigris River has the largest water volume in West Asia. It is also called "Two Rivers" together with the Euphrates River; the area through which the two rivers flow is called "Two River Basin", which is one of the earliest birthplaces of human civilization, leaving countless precious cultural and material heritages.

The Tigris River is one of the most important waterways in the Fertile Crescent and has supported cities like Hasankeyf, Turkey, for centuries. The middle and lower reaches of the Tigris are all located in Iraq, making Iraq, which was originally a dry climate, rich in water. Let's learn more about this critical river's size and geographical features.

Size and Description of Tigris River

The Tigris-Euphrates is the largest river system in Southwest Asia, including the Tigris and Euphrates. The sources of these two rivers are in the south of the East Taurus Mountains in the southeastern Anatolia Plateau in Turkey, less than 80 kilometers (50 miles) apart. The general flow direction of the Tigris River is southeast; after passing through the city of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey, it is a border river of about 32 kilometers with Syria, then directly flows into Iraq. The Tigris River finally joins with the Euphrates River and flows into the Persian Gulf. The main tributaries of the Tigris include the Bihetan, Great Zab, Lesser Zab, Adhiam and Diyala, and Karkheh rivers, etc.

The river is usually divided into three sections:

  • The upper reaches gradually descend from the source above 1,830-3,050 meters (6,000-10,000 feet) above sea level and pass through the gorges and valleys of the eastern Anatolian Plateau.
  • The middle reaches are in the northern highlands of Syria and the Iraqi highlands, ranging from 366 meters (1,200 feet) at the foot of the so-called Kurdish cliffs to 52 meters (170 feet) at the top of the delta; and the alluvial plain created by the two rivers.
  • The two rivers join at Al-Qurnah to form the Shatt al-Arab.

Length and Basin Area of Tigris River

From the source in the Armenian Highlands to its mouth in the Persian Gulf, the Tigris River is 1,750 kilometers long, with a drainage area of 375,000 square kilometers, an average discharge of 1,150 cubic meters per second, and an annual runoff of nearly 40 billion cubic meters. The total area of the Tigris, Euphrates, and Shatt al-Arab river basins is about 1.05 million square kilometers; and the average annual flow into the sea is about 1,500 cubic meters per second.

Quick Facts
Length1,750 km
Basin Area375,000 sq km
Through the CountriesTurkey and Iraq
Average Discharge1,150 cubic m/s

Climate and Hydrology

The basin is subtropical, with a mild climate in the north and hot in the south. The annual rainfall in the northern mountainous area is 600-900 mm, and the rainfall in the central and southern regions is less and concentrated from November to April of the following year.

The Tigris River is rich in water resources. The river water is mainly supplied by mountain snowmelt and upstream spring rains. The water level rises every year in March, reaching the highest level in May and gradually decreasing after June. The average annual flow into the sea is about 1,500 cubic meters per second, and the amount of water entering the sea is 47.3 billion cubic meters.

Final Words

The Tigris River is relatively rich in water resources but mainly concentrated in the main tributaries of southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. There is a large water drop, which is suitable for constructing hydropower projects and other comprehensive development. Major cities are located in the river basin, which is the main concentration of the population. Due to the rich history that dates back to the earliest known civilizations in the river basin, the Tigris is an important source of both travel and irrigation.


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