Anatolian peninsula covers a large area of Turkey, approximately 97% of the total area. It's generally a high plateau covered with several high mountains and mountain ranges especially in the east of the country. The existence of many valleys and high mountains, snow precipitation and therefore its melting in the Spring, and the climate of different regions favor the formation of lakes and rivers. Most of the water from these rivers are used for the irrigation of the agricultural fields, but most important of all for the hydroelectric energy with several dams built on them. Some of the important and big rivers of Turkey are:
Euphrates (Firat in Turkish) is 2,800 km long, out of which 1,263 km is in Turkey. It rises from Eastern Anatolia and ends in the Persian Gulf in Iraq after joining with the Tigris at Shatt al-Arab. Please follow for more information.
Tigris (Dicle in Turkish) is 1,900 km long, out of which 523 km is in Turkey. It rises from the mountains near Elazig province and empties into the Persian Gulf in Basra after joining with the Euphrates at Shatt al-Arab. Please follow for more information.
Kizilirmak, meaning Red river in Turkish, is 1,355 km long and is the longest river of Turkey which rises and ends within the country. The river is born from Kizildag mountains in the northeast of Central Anatolia, passes from Sivas, Kayseri, Nevsehir, Kirsehir, Kirikkale, Ankara, Çankiri, Çorum and Samsun provinces, reaching the Black Sea at Bafra. Some of the dams built on Kizilirmak are; Kesikköprü, Hirfanli, Kapulukaya, Altinkaya and Derbent.
Yesilirmak, meaning Green river in Turkish, is approximately 519 km long. It rises from Köse mountain in the north of Sivas, passes from Tokat, Amasya and Samsun provinces, and empties into the Black Sea. Some of the dams built on Yesilirmak are; Almus, Ataköy, Hasan Ugurlu and Suat Ugurlu.
Büyük (Great) Menderes
Büyük Menderes, who's name comes from "meandering", is 584 km long and the largest river in the Aegean region. Its headwaters are Kufi Suyu ve Banaz stream near Afyon province, passes from Usak and Aydin provinces, and then empties into the Aegean Sea. Its waters are mainly used for the irrigation of the agricultural fields.
Küçük (Small) Menderes
Küçük Menderes rises from Bozdag mountains in the Aegean region, passes from many agricultural fields and nearby Ephesus, then empties into the Aegean Sea. This river also "meanders", from which its name is coming from. Its ancient name was Kaistros.
Ceyhan, which was called as Hyranus in the ancient times, is 509 km long. It rises near Elbistan in the eastern Mediterranean region, passes from Taurus mountains, near Kahramanmaras, and from Adana - Çukurova where it's used for the irrigation of the cotton fields, and then empties into Iskenderun Bay in the Mediterranean. Its headwaters are Sögutlu and Hurma rivers, and its tributaries are Aksu, Çakur, Susas and Çeperce streams. Water flow at Ceyhan river raises between November-December because of the rains and in the Spring because of snowmelting, and lowers between August-September.
Seyhan is 850 km long. It rises from central Taurus mountain range south of Sivas, passes from Adana province and then empties into the Mediterranean. Seyhan has two major tributaries: Zamanti and Göksu rivers. There are several hydroelectric dams on the river; Yedigöze, Çatalan and Seyhan dams. Like Ceyhan river, Seyhan is also used for the irrigation of the cotton fields in Çukurova. Today, there are plans and talks about exporting the excessive waters of these two rivers to some countries in the Middle East, especially to Israel and to Jordan.
Çoruh river is 431 km long (410 km within Turkey, 21 km in Georgia) and is one of the fastest flowing rivers in the world. It rises from the mountains near Bayburt and Artvin provinces, passes from the border and empties in the Black Sea near Batumi. Because of its fast running waters, it's a very popular river for white water rafting in international standards. Dams built on Çoruh river are; Borçka (built between 1998-2005), Deriner (1998-2012) and Muratli (1999-2005). Deriner dam is the tallest arch dam in Turkey (249 meters high). There are also other planned dams to be built on Çoruh in the near future which unfortunately threatens the river and its eco-system.
Gediz, which was called as Hermus in the ancient times, is 401 km long. It's formed by the headwaters rising from Murat and Saphane mountains in the inner part of western Anatolia, then flows in the western direction joining with its tributaries; Kunduzlu, Selendi, Deliinis, Demrek and Nif streams, passes nearby Salihli (ancient Sardis) and nearby Foça, and finally empties into the Aegean Sea. Its waters are mainly used for the irrigation of the fertile agricultural fields in the Aegean region.
Sakarya, which was called as Sangarios in the ancient times, is 824 km long. It rises from the plateaus in the northeast of Afyon province, passes nearby Polatli town and Adapazari (Sakarya) province, joins with its tributaries; Porsuk, Göksu, Göynük, Aladag, Kirmir, Mudurnu and Çark streams, and finally empties into the Black Sea. There are two hydroelectric power plants on the Sakarya river: Sariyar (built between 1950-1956) and Gökçekaya (1967-1972) dams.
Meriç, or Maritsa in Bulgarian, is 490 km long out of which 211 km are in Turkey. The river rises from Bulgaria, goes across the border in Turkey and passes from Edirne, joins with Tunca river, defines the Turkish-Greek border, and finally empties into the Aegean Sea at Saros Gulf. Its tributaries are Ergene, Arda and Tunca rivers.
There are many smaller rivers in Turkey, some of them are: Dalaman, Aksu, Asi, Manavgat, Bakirçay, Kazak, Tunca, Göksu, Gönen, Susurluk, Filyos, Kura, Aras, Ankara, Botan, Delice, Karpuzlu, Mercan, Murat, Zamanti, Cine, and so on.Source: State Hydraulic Works (DSI)