|Maritsa (Марица), Evros (Έβρος), Meriç|
The source valley of the Maritsa river in the Rila Mountains
|Origin||Rila Mountains, Bulgaria|
|Mouth||Aegean Sea, 14.5 km east of Alexandroupoli
|Basin countries||Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey|
|Source elevation||2,378 m|
|Basin area||53,000 km²|
The Maritsa or Evros (Bulgarian: Марица, Ancient Greek: Ἕβρος (Latinised as Hebrus), Modern Greek: Έβρος, Evros, Turkish: Meriç) is, with a length of 480 km, the longest river that runs solely in the interior of the Balkans. It has its origin in the Rila Mountains in Western Bulgaria, flowing southeast between the Balkan and Rhodope Mountains, past Plovdiv and Parvomay (where the Mechka and the Kayaliyka join it) to Edirne, Turkey. East of Svilengrad, Bulgaria, the river flows eastwards, forming the border between Bulgaria (on the north bank) and Greece (on the south bank), and then between Turkey and Greece. At Edirne, the river flows through Turkish territory on both banks, then turns towards the south and forms the border between Greece on the west bank and Turkey on the east bank to the Aegean Sea. Turkey was given a small sector on the west bank opposite the city of Edirne. The river enters the Aegean Sea near Enez, where it forms a delta. The Tundzha is its chief tributary; the Arda is another one. The lower course of the Maritsa/Evros forms part of the Bulgarian-Greek border and most of the Greek-Turkish border. The upper Maritsa valley is a principal east-west route in Bulgaria. The unnavigable river is used for power production and irrigation.
The places that the river flows through include Pazardzhik, Plovdiv, (next to) Parvomay, through Dimitrovgrad and Svilengrad in Bulgaria, Edirne in Turkey and Kastanies, Pythio, Didymoteicho and Lavara in Greece. There are a number of bridges over the river, including the one at Svilengrad, the one west of Edirne in Turkey and GR-2 with the D110/E90 further south and as its border crossings.
In ancient times, the Maritsa was known as the Hebros.
Maritsa has become the access of choice for about three-quarters of illegal immigrants arriving into an EU member country. Over 120,000 migrants and political asylum seekers went to Greece in 2010, and more than 40,000 of them arrived through the Greece-Turkey area of the river. Asian and African migrants have started to use Maritsa to reach the European Union after debated bilateral agreements blocked the traditional routes through Italy and Spain.
Starting from the river's source, significant tributaries of Maritsa include:
- Left tributaries:
- Right tributaries:
The lower course of the river Maritsa, where it forms the border of Greece and Turkey, is very vulnerable to flooding. For about 4 months every year, the low lands around the river are flooded. This causes significant economic damage (loss of agricultural production and damage to infrastructure), which is estimated at several hundreds million Euro.
Recent large floods took place in 2006 and 2007. Several causes have been proposed: more rainfall due to climate change, deforestation in the Bulgarian part of the catchment area, increased land use in the flood plains and difficult communication between the three countries.
- "МАРИЦА (антично име: Хеброс, Хебър)". Българска енциклопедия А-Я (in Bulgarian). БАН, Труд, Сирма. 2002. ISBN 954-8104-08-3. OCLC 163361648.
- Evros: The immigrants' gateway. PBS.org, May 16, 2011.
- Environmental management of big riverine floods: the case of Evros River in Greece, Z. Nivolianitou, B. Synodinou
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