Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Baghdad (1.)
BAGHDAD, a Turkish pashalic or government of Asia, computed to have an area of above 100,000 square miles. It stretches in a N.W. direction, from the mouth of the Shatt-el-Arab at Bussorah, to Merdin, situated near the source of the Tigris ; and from the confines of Persia to the banks of the Khabour, which separates it from the pashalic of Diarbekir. Its general boundaries are the Euphrates and the Arabian desert of Nejd to the W. and S., Kusistan and Mount Zagros to the E., the pashalic of Diarbekir to the N.W., and Armenia with the terri tories of the Kurdish chief of Julamerick to the 1ST. This great tract comprehends ancient Babylonia and the greatest part of Assyria proper. The first includes the space enclosed by the Tigris and the Euphrates, which is also known under the general appellation of Mesopo tamia; and the second, that which is beyond the Tigris, commonly called Lower Kurdistan. This tract of country is an extensive and very fertile plain, and is watered by the Tigris and the Euphrates, which at Baghdad approach within 25 miles of each other, and afford an inexhaustible supply of the finest water. Only some parts of these fertile districts, however, are cultivated, as the population consists in many places of wandering Arabs, who are averse to agriculture, and who, in their vagrant lifo of idleness and rapine, neglect all the natural advantages of the country. The most productive portion of the pashalic is on the banks of the Shatt-el-Arab, in the neighbourhood of Bussorah. This tract, for upwards of 30 miles below that city, is well cultivated, and yields vast quantities of dates, wheat, barley, and various kinds of fruits. The banks of the Euphrates produce abundant crops of dry grain. Higher up the Euphrates, the country which is possessed by the Arabs is a low marshy tract, formed by the expansion of the Euphrates, and is famed for plentiful crops of rice. Among the mountainous districts of the Upper Euphrates the country is highly picturesque and beautiful ; it is watered by the River Mygdonius (the Gozan of Scripture), and is in a tolerable state of cultivation. It produces in abundance the finest fruits, such as grapes, olives, figs, pomegranates, which are considered the most delicious in the East ; apples, pears, apricots of an inferior quality ; and the finest dates, on which the inhabitants, as in other parts of Asia, depend in many cases for subsist ence. The domestic animals are, the horse, for which the country has long been famed, the ass, camel, drome dary, buffalo, and mule. Of the wild animals, the lion, the hyena, the jackal, the wolf, and the wild boar, are common ; and antelopes are very numerous. Hares are plentiful, but foxes are seldom seen. All sorts of poultry are bred except the turkey. On the cultivated lands, and on the borders of the rivers, the black partridge is met with in great numbers. Snipes and almost every species of wild fowl may be found in the marshes, and pelicans on the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris. In addition to these two rivers, the country is watered by the Khabour or Chaboras, formed by the junction of several small streams about ten miles to the S.W. of Merdin, and by the Mygdonius, or Gozan, the Hennas of the Arabs, which used formerly to discharge a part of its waters into the Euphrates through the Khabour, and a part into the Tigris through the Thirthar, passing by Hatra. but which is now entirely lost in a salt marsh at the foot of the Sinsrar hills.
In ancient times the plain of Mesopotamia was occupied by the great and wealthy cities of Nineveh, Babylon, Seleucia, Ctesiphon, &c., and was in a high state of cul tivation. It was intersected by many well-constructed canals and other works, which, in dispersing over the country the superfluous waters of the Tigris and Euphrates, proved extremely useful to agriculture. These works are now all ruined, and not a vestige remains of many of tho canals, while the course of others can only be faintly traced in their imperfect remains. One canal, however, called El-Hye, still exists ; it connects the Euphrates and the Tigris exactly half-way between Bussorah and Baghdad, and is navigable in spring for large boats.