A map of the Ekuos (outlined blue) and its watershed, including larger inflows (outlined gray). The watershed overlaps with that of the Letsatian River.
|Other name(s)|| Ekoz|
|Countries|| Algazi Union|
|Administered by||Ekuosian Union|
The Ekuos River is a large river in Northern Baredina. At just under 8,500 kilometers in length, the Ekuos River is the longest river in the world, and arguably the most important on the continent of Baredina, passing through or by ten countries whom all impart the river with much historical, economic, political, and cultural significance. The river is the namesake of the sociocultural region of Ekuosia, which encompasses much of Northern Baredina and is the most populous region on Sahar, with over a billion inhabitants.
The origins of the name of the river remain unclear, though several cultures on its initial stretch provide a handful of possibilities. The name is at least 4,500 years old, as the Ekuost dynasty of Barradiwa, who ruled Palace City roughly around that time, named themselves after the river. One prominent theory speculates that the river's name may come from Proto-Letsic ávkëh, which simply means "water"; however as said, there are several other theories with roughly as much evidence behind them as that one.
Given its location in Northern Baredina, it is believed that modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens, speciated within the Ekuos Basin (specifically the area around the Tabiq River and its source lakes). As a result, the basin was inhabited by humans since the species came into being, and the river itself was used by modern humans as a water source for potentially 200,000 years, and was used by other hominids for even longer.
The area around Lake Khuda and the Khuda-Ekuos confluence is considered one of several "Cradles of Civilization", and is among the oldest of the areas designated as such (perhaps only eclipsed in age by the Greenwater Plain Cradle, and even then only by a few hundred years). After the area experienced its own agricultural revolution, several cities and states began to appear along the Ekuos, many of which spread out along its tributaries until they reached other rivers or the coasts. As years went on, smaller civilizations frequently consolidated into larger ones, resulting in rapidly expanding empires such as Letsatia.
Other areas further along the Ekuos became significant centers of trade and culture since 500 BCE, especially in the case of the Adzamic people, who went on to found one of the largest empires in world history using the Ekuos as the basis of their massive trade network, as it was said that all rivers eventually led to Mehyaran (before draining southeast towards the Saru Sea). Even later still, the course of the river made it extremely profitable to control its delta region since trade would flow downstream to that area, so it is speculated that one of the contributing factors to the Neviran Empire's meteoric rise in the 15th and 16th centuries (alongside their invention of relatively easily-produced firearms) was that the Neviran state held control of the Ekuosian delta. The river also became host to Algaz merchants who sought to build trade posts along the river throughout the centuries, fostering trade in what would become the Algazi Union even during the Neviran occupation.
After the invention of the steam engine and boats that could travel upstream, the river's significance grew even further, providing a natural way to travel internationally with relative ease. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the river became so important that several cities built on it grew exponentially, namely Palace City in Barradiwa, Mehyaran in Tabiqa and Nivuẓend in Nevira. Nations that had ready access to the river further identified it as a sort of uniting force in the region, which is one of the reasons the Ekuosian Union was founded some years following the end of the Great Ekuosian War, and much of the reason the region of Northwestern Baredina is known worldwide as "Ekuosia" in the first place.
The entire length of the Ekuos is considered international water, and is administered directly by the Ekuosian Union Cooperative Board. To ensure the safe passage of ships along the river, stretches of the riverbank in Istan and Central Ekuosia are protected by EkU troops and various obstacles. This serves the secondary purpose of preventing refugees from boarding and stowing away on ships bound for richer Ekuosian nations. The government of Istan, which is not an EkU member, has long claimed sovereignty over the portion of the river which runs through Istani territory. However, the EkU has refused to make any concessions apart from allowing certain Istani riverside cities limited shipping access. This has caused many smaller settlements along the river, both in Istan and Central Ekuosia, to lose access to their primary livelihoods.
The Ekuos begins in the mountains of Letzia near the source of the Letsatian River and then drains east, forming the border between Azerin and the Algazi Union, Lons, and (at least in part) Barradiwa. Once the Khuda River joins with the Ekuos, the river stops serving as an explicit international border for several thousand kilometers. Approximately 400 kilometers past the Khuda-Ekuos confluence and nearly 50 kilometers past Terydnunekuos, the river sharply diverts southwards and begins flowing in that direction, entering the Baredinan Desert and cutting through Central Ekuosia and Istan whilst very gradually curving east.
After flowing into Tabiqa for some length, the river begins to drastically curve north-northeast until it reaches the Tabiqiri capital of Mehyaran and is joined by the Tabiq River, at which point it diverts southeast. After exiting Tabiqa, the river cuts through the Povan Union before cutting into Nevira and from there eventually spreading out into the Sizhagh Delta, which in turn empties into the Saru Sea.
The Ekuosian watershed is a massive one, essentially stretching from one coast of Baredina to another if one considers the Letsatian watershed to be part of the Ekuos's due to their close source leading to an overlap. The river's basin provides ample fertile land to much of an otherwise traditionally uninhabitable area. The basin stretches to reach Ebo Nganagam, Rosland, Veridia, and the Terminian state of Utol; although the river itself does not reach these countries, its tributaries serve to stretch its watershed out to them.
The river is host to a large number of species of fish. Several terrestrial animals use the river as a source of water, including elephants, giraffes, and big cats (primarily lions and cheetahs). Some stretches of the river are also inhabited by crocodilians, including the Ekuosian crocodile which is the largest species of crocodilian on Sahar. Hippos are also known to inhabit much of the initial stretch of the river before it diverts southwards.