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Fast Facts About Mesopotamia

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Fast Facts About Mesopotamia - Modern Iraq
Iraq - Map of Modern Iraq  showing the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

Mesopotamian Fast Facts | Religion | Money | Base 10 Math

Map of Modern Iraq showing the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Map courtesy of CIA Sourcebook.

History books call the land now called Iraq "Mesopotamia". The word does not refer to one specific ancient country, but an area that included various, changing nations in the ancient world.

Meaning of Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia means the land between the rivers. (Hippopotamus -- river horse -- contains the same word for river potam-). A body of water in some form or other is essential to life, so an area boasting of two rivers would be doubly blessed. The area on each side of these rivers was fertile, although the larger, general area was not. The ancient residents developed irrigation techniques to take advantage of their value, but very limited natural resource. Over time, irrigation methods changed the riverside landscape.

Location of the 2 Rivers

The 2 rivers of Mesopotamia are the Tigris and the Euphrates (Dijla and Furat, in Arabic). The Euphrates is the one on the left (west) in maps and the Tigris is the one closer to Iran -- to the east of modern Iraq. Today, the Tigris and Euphrates join up in the south to flow into the Persian Gulf.

Location of Major Mesopotamian Cities

Baghdad is by the Tigris River in the middle of Iraq.

Babylon, the capital of the ancient Mesopotamian country of Babylonia, was built along the Euphrates River.

Nippur, an important Babylonian city dedicated to the god Enlil, was located about 100 miles south of Babylon.

The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers meet somewhat north of the modern city of Basra and flow into the Persian Gulf.

Iraq Land Boundaries:

total: 3,650 km

Border countries:

  • Iran 1,458 km,
  • Jordan 181 km
  • Kuwait 240 km
  • Saudi Arabia 814 km
  • Syria 605 km
  • Turkey 352 km
Map courtesy of CIA Sourcebook.
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