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The Mareb River (or Gash River), is a river flowing out of central Eritrea which partly forms a natural frontier between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

According to the Statistical Abstract of Ethiopia for 1967/68, the Mereb River is 440 kilometres (270 mi) long. The Ethiopian Ministry of Water Resources reports its catchment area as 5,700 square miles, with an annual runoff of 0.26 billion cubic meters.[1] Its headwaters rise north of Amba Takara in central Eritrea, on the landward side of the eastern escarpment within 80 kilometres (50 mi) of Annesley Bay on the Red Sea. It flows south, bordering Ethiopia, then west through western Eritrea to reach the Sudanese plains near Kassala. Unlike the Setit or Takazze rivers, which flow out of Ethiopia and also forms a natural border with Eritrea, the waters of the Mareb do not reach the Nile but dissipate in the sands of the eastern Sudanese plains.

The Mareb is dry for much of the year, but like the Takazze is subject to sudden floods during the rainy season; only the left bank of the upper course of the Mareb is in Ethiopian territory. Its main tributaries are the Obel River on the right bank (in Eritrea) and the Sarana, Balasa, Mai Shawesh, and 'Engweya Rivers on the left (in Ethiopia).

The Mareb was important historically as the boundary between two separately governed regions in the area: the land of the Bahr negash (Tigrinya "kingdom of the sea", also known as Medri Bahri or "land of/by the sea") to the north of the river, and the Tigray to the south. The territories under the Bahr negash extended as far north as the Red Sea coast, and as far south (and west) as Shire[2] and the capital was at Debarwa in modern Eritrea, about 20 miles (30 km) south of Asmara.

The river's Eritrean floodplain was the location of a 2001 sighting of a sizable elephant herd, the first such sighting in Eritrea since 1955.[3]

See also


  1. ^ "Water Sector Development Program (Vol.2)" Ministry of Water Resources (accessed 21 January 2009)
  2. ^ Daniel Kendie, The Five Dimensions of the Eritrean Conflict 1941 – 2004: Deciphering the Geo-Political Puzzle (United States of America: Signature Book Printing, 2005), pp. 17-8.
  3. ^ BBC Wildlife magazine, July 2003, retrieved at [1] on 28 Sept 2007

Coordinates: 16°48′N 35°51′E / 16.8°N 35.85°E / 16.8; 35.85



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