Southern Iraq wetlands biblical scholars believe to be the Garden of Eden is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Garden of Eden is the setting for the birth of the Abrahamic religion which branches out into Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. As such, it is the birthplace of the faith of most of the world's population. It has always been a point of debate and speculation as to where this Garden may be located. Different theorists claim different things, however, its location still remains a mystery.

According to the Book of Genesis, which provides the foundation for the Torah, the Bible, and the Quran, a river flowed from Eden which gradually split into four rivers, the Pishon, the Gihon, the Tigris, and the Euphrates. Though the location of Pishon and Gihon are unknown, we know for a fact that the Tigris and Euphrates rivers run in Southern Iraq bordering Iran, creating vast and remote wetlands which are inhabited by the “Marsh Arabs.” These marshes have now been declared as UNESCO heritage sites and Iraq is actively trying to protect this area.

Back in Saddam's regime, the Marsh Arabs were accused of treachery during the war and he had the Marshes drained off. This resulted in the 3,474-square mile wetlands getting reduced to a little more than 270 square miles. Iraq has declared that it will work hard towards expanding the wetlands to at least 2,316 square miles. Thanks to UNESCO, environmental activists, and the pro-active efforts of the Iraqi government, the marshes have regained much of their former areas.

The once almost-extinct marshlands are home to rich flora and fauna. In fact, 40 different species of birds can be found in these marshes. This area is now gaining popularity as being the area where the Garden of Eden once flourished. However, skeptics point out the following reasons why this may not be true.

  • Rivers change their course over time. As such the Tigris and Euphrates rivers may not be flowing now where they used to flow when the Creation took place.
  • The rivers may not be the original Tigris and Euphrates at all, and may have just been given those names in recent times.
  • Noah’s flood, if it did occur, would have completely changed the topography of the earth.

Whether this is really the Garden or not will always remain a point of debate. In any case, the positive side of the attention it is receiving is that the Marsh Arabs may receive better facilities and the rich flora and fauna of the Wetlands will be better protected in the future.

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