|• location||Rila Mountains, Bulgaria|
|• elevation||2,378 m (7,802 ft)|
|Aegean Sea, 14.5 km (9.0 mi) east of Alexandroupoli|
|Length||480 km (300 mi)|
|Basin size||53,000 km2 (20,000 sq mi)|
|• average||for mouth 234 m3/s (8,300 cu ft/s)|
Maritsa or Maritza (Bulgarian: Марица [mɐˈrit͡sɐ]), also known as Meriç (Turkish: Meriç [meɾit͡ʃ]) and Evros (Greek: Έβρος [ˈevros]), is a river that runs through the Balkans in Southeast Europe. With a length of 480 km (300 mi), it is the longest river that runs solely in the interior of the Balkan peninsula, and one of the largest in Europe by discharge. It flows through Bulgaria in its upper and middle reaches, while its lower course forms much of the border between Greece and Turkey. Its drainage area is about 53,000 km2 (20,000 sq mi), of which 66.2% is in Bulgaria, 27.5% in Turkey and 6.3% in Greece. It is the main river of the historical region of Thrace, most of which lies in its drainage basin.
It has its origin in the Rila Mountains in Western Bulgaria, its source being the Marichini Lakes. The Maritsa flows east-southeast between the Balkan and Rhodope Mountains, past Plovdiv and Dimitrovgrad in Bulgaria to Edirne in 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 meets it two chief tributaries Tundzha and Arda, and flows through Turkish territory on both banks. It then turns towards the south and forms the border between Greece on the west bank and Turkey on the east bank all the way to the Aegean Sea, which it enters near Enez forming a river delta. The upper Maritsa valley is a principal east–west route in Bulgaria. The unnavigable river is used for power production and irrigation.
The earliest known name of the river is Εύρος (Euros, Alcman, 7th–6th century BC). Proto-Indo-European *h₁wérus and Ancient Greek εὐρύς meant "wide". The Proto-Indo-European consonant cluster *-wr- shifted in Thracian to -br-, creating the Thracian name Ebros. Thereafter, the river began to be known as Ἕβρος (Hébros) in Greek and Hebrus in Latin. Rather than an origin as 'wide river', an alternative hypothesis is that is borrowed from Thracian ebros meaning 'splasher'.
While the name Ἕβρος (Hébros) was used in Ancient Greek, the name Μαρίτσα (Maritsa) had become standard before the ancient form Ἕβρος was artificially restituted in Modern Greek as Έβρος (now: Évros). The name Maritsa may derive from a mountain near the mouth of the river known in antiquity as Μηρισός or Μήριζος, Latinized as Merit(h)us.[unreliable source?]
In 1371, the river was the site of the Battle of Maritsa, also known as the battle of Chernomen, an Ottoman victory over the Serbian rulers Vukašin Mrnjavčević and Jovan Uglješa, who died in the battle.
The Maritsa/Evros river as a natural barrier on the border between Turkey and Greece has become a major route for migrants from a variety of countries attempting to enter the EU irregularly. Between 2000 and 2019, 398 bodies were found on the Greek side of the Evros river. Up until that time, drowning in the Evros was the leading cause of death among migrants trying to enter Greece.
Following the heavy losses Turkish armed forces incurred at the hands of the Russian-backed Syrian government in northern Syria at the end of February 2020, a drastic change in Turkey's policy towards irregular migrants on its territory led to escalation of the situation at the Evros border crossings as well as exacerbation of tension between Turkey on one hand and Greece and the EU as a whole on the other hand.
In May 2020, news emerged that Turkish forces occupied a 16 acres (6.5 ha) of Greek territory, Melissokomeio, as shown on maps of 1923, following a change in the flow of the Maritsa/Evros river.
Starting from the river's source, significant tributaries of Maritsa include:
- Left tributaries:
- Right tributaries:
The lower course of the river Maritsa/Evros, 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, 2007, 2014, with the largest flood taking place in 2021. 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.
The Bulgarian Maritsa motorway, which roughly follows the course of the river from Chirpan (where it branches out of the Trakia motorway) to the Turkish border at Kapitan Andreevo, is also named in honour of the river.
- "Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment" (in Greek). Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change. p. 90. Archived from the original on 15 February 2020.
- Statistical Yearbook 2017, National Statistical Institute (Bulgaria), p. 17
- Georgiev, Vladimir Ivanov Georgiev (1981). Introduction to the History of the Indo-European Languages (1981, p. 351). ISBN 9789535172611.
- Florov, Nicholas; Florov, Irina (2001). Three-thousand-year-old Hat. Michigan University. ISBN 9780968848708.
- Duridanov, Ivan (1985). Die Sprache der Thraker. Neuried: Hieronymus Verlag. ISBN 978-3-88893-031-7. OCLC 18925921.
- Schramm, Gottfried (1981): Eroberer und Eingesessene. Geographische Lehnnamen als Zeugen der Geschichte Südosteuropas im ersten Jahrtausend n. Chr. Stuttgart: Hiersemann, pp.290f. Referenced in Carsten Peust, How Old Are the River Names of Europe?, Linguistik Online, 2015
- Evros: The immigrants' gateway. PBS.org, May 16, 2011.
- Pavlidis, Pavlos; Karakasi, Maria-Valeria (2019). "Greek land borders and migration fatalities - Humanitarian disaster described from the standpoint of Evros". Forensic Science International. 302: 109875. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2019.109875. ISSN 1872-6283. PMID 31378400. S2CID 199438113.
- Turkish police bolster Greek border to stop migrants' return. 6 March 2020.
- Greece Defends Borders as Erdogan Opens the Gates: Live Updates. 1 March 2020.
- "Athens lodges demarche with Ankara over Evros dispute". ekathimerini.com. 22 May 2020.
- Environmental management of big riverine floods: the case of Evros River in Greece, Z. Nivolianitou, B. Synodinou