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Aras (river)

The Aras river, Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan to the right and Iran to the left.
Aras River highlighted on a map of the Kura River watershed
Origin Erzurum Province, Turkey
Mouth Kura river
Basin countries Turkey, Armenia, Iran, Azerbaijan
Length 1,072 km (666 mi)

The Aras (Greek: Αράξης), Aras (in Turkish and Kurdish),[1] Araz (in Azerbaijani), is a river in and along the countries of Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran. It drains the south side of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains and then joins the Kura River which drains the north side of those mountains. Its total length is 1,072 kilometres (666 mi). Given its length and a basin that covers an area of 102,000 square kilometres (39,000 sq mi), it is one of the largest rivers of the Caucasus.


  • Description 1
  • Etymology and history 2
  • Iğdır Aras Valley Bird Paradise 3
  • Gallery 4
  • See also 5
  • Footnotes 6


The Aras rises near Erzurum, Turkey. It meets with the Akhurian River southeast of Digor, flows along the Turkish-Armenian border, and then near a corridor that connects Turkey to Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan exclave. It then flows along the Iranian-Azerbaijan and the Iranian-Armenian border.

The Zangmar, Sariso, Ghotour River, Hajilar River, Kalibar River, Ilghena River, Darreh River and Balha River are the major tributaries of the Aras from the south (right). In Turkey the Ghareso river flows in on the left side. The Akhurian, Metsamor, Hrazdan, Azat, Vedi, Arpa, Vorotan, Voghdji and Megri rivers flow in from the Armenian north side (left). The Khachin River, Okhchi River, Kuri River and Kandlan River flow in from the Azerbaijan north side (left).[2]

Etymology and history

Aras River in the Persian Empire 1747 map.

In Armenian tradition, the river is named after Arast, a great-grandson of the legendary Armenian patriarch Haik.[3] See Erasx for the etymology. The name was later Hellenized to Araxes and was applied to the Kura-Araxes culture, a prehistoric people which flourished in the valleys of the Kura and Aras. But many times it is the Volga River which is called Araxes especially in Herodotus' History 1.202. The river is also mentioned in the last chapter of the Aeneid VIII by Virgil, as "angry at the bridge", since the Romans built a bridge over it,so that it is thereby conquered. By some, the river Aras has been associated with the otherwise unidentified Gihon and Pishon rivers mentioned in the second chapter of the Bible.[4]

In modern history, the Aras gained significance as a geographic political boundary. Under the terms of the Treaty of Gulistan and the Treaty of Turkmenchay following two Russo-Persian Wars of the 19th century, the river was chosen as the border limit between the Russian Empire and Qajar Iran as the latter was forced to irrevocably cede all of its Caucasian territories to Russia.[5] Iran and the Soviet Union later built the Aras Dam on the Aras in the Poldasht area creating the Aras Reservoir.

During the Cold War, some Iranian communists escaped to USSR using this river. Also Samad Behrangi, an Iranian author of children's books, drowned in the River Aras.[6]

Iğdır Aras Valley Bird Paradise

In 2006, a bird research and education center was established by Tuzluca district of Iğdır Province, Turkey. It is one of Turkey's two yearly active bird ringing stations.[7] Between 2006 and 2015, more than 65,000 birds of 198 species were ringed and 258 bird species were observed at this station. Fifty-five percent of the 471 bird species found in Turkey are recorded at this wetland, making it eastern Turkey's richest wetland for birds. The number of ringed and observed 258 bird species comprises 85 percent of the 303 bird species at Iğdır Province. Seven new bird species were observed during the bird ringing activities in 2012 alone, including the raptor Shikra or Little Banded Goshawk (Accipiter badius), which was new to Turkey's avifauna.[8][9]

University of Utah biology professor Çağan Şekercioğlu, president of the KuzeyDoğa Society, appealed to the Ministry of Forest and Water Management to drop the Tuzluca Dam project, which would destroy the wetland harboring bird wildlife in the Aras Valley.[8][10] In 2013, the ministry decided that the site deserves the highest level of conservation status (Nature Conservation Area), but the same ministry has still not canceled its plans to build the dam that would destroy this site nature reserve.[7] KuzeyDoga started the campaign which has gathered over 61,500 signatures.


See also


  1. ^ "Aras River".  
  2. ^ "Environmental Performance Reviews - Armenia" (PDF). New York and Geneva: United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. 2000.  
  3. ^ Bauer-Manndorff, Elisabeth (1981). Armenia: Past and Present. Armenian Prelacy. p. 49.  
  4. ^ "Calumet, A. D. 1672–1757, Rosebmuller, 1768–1835, Kell, 1807–1888, and some other scholars believed the source river [for Eden] was a region of springs. The Pishon and Gihon were mountain streams. The former may have been the Phasis or Araxes, and the latter the Oxus." Duncan, George S. (October 1929) "The Birthplace of Man" The Scientific Monthly 29(4): pp. 359-362, p. 360
  5. ^ "Russia at War: From the Mongol Conquest to Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Beyond ...". Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  6. ^ Hillman, Michael C. Behrangī. Encyclopaedia Iranica. 
  7. ^ a b Ocak, Serkan (2013-07-28). "Aras Kuş Cenneti müjdesi".  
  8. ^ a b "'Aras Kuş Cenneti korunmalı'".  
  9. ^ "Afrikalı atmaca Türkiye'de halkalandı".  
  10. ^ "Aras Nehri'ndeki Kuşlara ABD'den El Uzattı". Akdeniz Gazete (in Turkish). Retrieved 2014-07-13.  |

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