Kura (Caspian Sea)

Kura (Mtkvari)
Confluence of the Aragvi and Kura (Mtkvari) rivers.jpg
Confluence of the Aragvi and Kura (Mtkvari) rivers Mtskheta
Kurabasinmap.png
Kura River Basin
EtymologyRelated to the name of Cyrus the Great
Location
CountryTurkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan
RegionCaucasus
CitiesKhashuri, Gori, Borjomi, Tbilisi, Rustavi, Mingacevir, Zardab, Sabirabad, Neftçala
Physical characteristics
SourceLesser Caucasus
 ⁃ locationNear Kartsakhi Lake, Kars, Turkey
 ⁃ coordinates40°40′31″N 42°44′32″E / 40°40′31″N 42°44′32″E / 40.67528; 42.74222
 ⁃ elevation2,740 m (8,990 ft)[1]
MouthCaspian Sea
 ⁃ location
Neftçala, Neftchala Rayon, Azerbaijan
 ⁃ coordinates
39°19′32″N 49°20′07″E / 39°19′32″N 49°20′07″E / 39.32556; 49.335282,250 m3/s (79,000 cu ft/s)[5]
Discharge 
 ⁃ locationborder of Georgia and Azerbaijan
 ⁃ average378 m3/s (13,300 cu ft/s)
Basin features
River systemCaspian Sea basin
Tributaries 
 ⁃ leftLiakhvi, Aragvi, Iori, Alazani
 ⁃ rightAlgeti, Khrami, Tartarchay, Aras

The Kura (Turkish: Kura; Azerbaijani: Kür; Georgian: მტკვარი, Mt’k’vari; Armenian: Կուր, Kur; Ancient Greek: Κῦρος, Cyrus; Persian: کوروش‎, Kuruš [7][8]) is an east-flowing river south of the Greater Caucasus Mountains which drains the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus east into the Caspian Sea. It also drains the north side of the Lesser Caucasus while its main tributary, the Aras drains the south side of those mountains. Starting in northeastern Turkey, it flows through Turkey to Georgia, then to Azerbaijan, where it receives the Aras as a right tributary, and enters the Caspian Sea at Neftçala. The total length of the river is 1,515 kilometres (941 mi).

People have inhabited the Caucasus region for thousands of years, and first established agriculture in the Kura Valley over 4,500 years ago. Large, complex civilizations eventually grew up on the river, but by 1200 CE, most were reduced to ruin by natural disasters and foreign invaders. The increasing human use, and eventual damage, of the watershed’s forests and grasslands contributed to a rising intensity of floods through the 20th century. In the 1950s, the Soviet Union started building many dams and canals on the river. Previously navigable up to Tbilisi in Georgia, it is now much slower and shallower, as it has been harnessed by irrigation projects and hydroelectric power stations. The river is now moderately polluted by major industrial centers like Tbilisi and Rustavi in Georgia.

Name

The name Kura is related to the name of Cyrus the Great, emperor of Persia, The Georgian name of Kura is Mt'k'vari (in old Georgian Mt'k'uari), either from Georgian "good water" or a Georgianized form of Megrelian tkvar-ua "gnaw" (as in, "river that eats its way through the mountains").[9] The name Kura was adopted first by the Russians and later by European cartographers. In some definitions of Europe, the Kura River defines the borderline between Europe and Asia.[10]

The river should not be confused with the Kura River, Russia, a westward flowing tributary of the Malka River in Stavropol Krai; the Kur River near Kursk, Russia; or the other Kur River near Khabarovsk, also in Russia.