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Belarusian: Дняпро (Dniapro)
Russian: Днепр (Dnepr)
Ukrainian: Дніпро (Dnipro)
The Dnieper River in Kiev, Ukraine
Countries Russia, Belarus, Ukraine
 - left Sozh, Desna, Trubizh, Supiy, Sula, Psel, Vorskla, Samara, Konka, Bilozerka
 - right Drut, Berezina, Prypiat, Teteriv, Irpin, Stuhna, Ros, Tiasmyn, Bazavluk, Inhulets
Cities Dorogobuzh, Smolensk, Mahilyow, Kiev, Cherkasy, Dnipropetrovsk
 - location Valdai Hills, Russia
 - elevation 220 m (722 ft)
 - coordinates
Mouth Dnieper Delta
 - elevation 0 m (0 ft)
 - coordinates
Length 2,145 km (1,333 mi)
Basin 504,000 km2 (194,595 sq mi)
Discharge for Kherson
 - average 1,670 m3/s (58,975 cu ft/s)
Dnieper River drainage basin

The Dnieper River is one of the major rivers of Europe (fourth by length), rising near Smolensk, Russia and flowing through Russia, Belarus and Ukraine to the Black Sea. It is the longest river of Ukraine and Belarus and the fourth longest river in Europe. The total length ranges between 2,145 km (1,333 mi)[1] and 2,201 km (1,368 mi)[2][3][4][5] with a drainage basin of 504,000 square kilometres (195,000 sq mi). The river is noted for its dams and hydroelectric stations. The Dnieper is an important navigable waterway for the economy of Ukraine and is connected via the Dnieper–Bug Canal to other waterways in Europe.

In antiquity, the river was known to the Greeks as the Borysthenes and was part of the Amber Road. Arheimar, a capital of the Goths, was located on the Dnieper, according to the Hervarar saga.


  • Etymology 1
  • Geography 2
    • Tributaries of the Dnieper 2.1
    • Rapids 2.2
    • Canals 2.3
    • Fauna 2.4
  • Reservoirs and hydroelectric power 3
  • Regions and cities 4
    • Regions 4.1
    • Cities 4.2
  • Navigation 5
  • The Dnieper in the arts 6
    • Visual arts 6.1
    • Popular culture 6.2
  • Ecology 7
  • See also 8
  • References and footnotes 9
  • External links 10


Human representation of the Dnepr river (known as Borysthenes) on an Ancient Greek coin of Pontic Olbia, 4th–3rd century BC

The name Dnieper is derived from Sarmatian Dānu apara "the river on the far side".[6] (By contrast, the Dniester derives from "the close river".) According to V. Abaev (expert on Scytho-Sarmatian languages) the name Dnieper derives from Scythian Dānu apr (Dānapr) "deep river", while the name Dniester is combination of Scythian Dānu (river) and Thracian Ister, the old name of Dniester.[7]

In the three countries through which it flows it has essentially the same name, albeit pronounced differently:

The river is mentioned by the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century BC as Borysthenes (Βορυσθένης), as well as by Strabo; this name is Scythian (cf. Iranian *varu-stāna) and translates as "wide land", referring most likely to the Ukrainian steppe. The late Greek and Roman authors called it Δάναπρις - Danapris and Danaper respectively - (dana in Old Persian meant "river"); this form is derived from Sarmatian Dānu apara "the river on the far side".[6] Its Old East Slavic name used at the time of Kievan Rus' was Slavuta or Slavutych, the Huns called it Var,[8] and Bulgars - Buri-Chai. The name in Crimean Tatar: Özü.[9]


satellite image of the Dnieper river estuary, captured 8-Aug 2015

The total length of the river is 2,145 kilometres (1,333 mi),[1] of which 485 km (301 mi) are within Russia, 700 km (430 mi) are within Belarus,[1] and 1,095 km (680 mi) are within Ukraine. Its basin covers 504,000 square kilometres (195,000 sq mi), of which 289,000 km2 (112,000 sq mi) are within Ukraine,[10] 118,360 km2 (45,700 sq mi) are within Belarus.[1]

The source of the Dnieper is the turf swamps (Akseninsky Mokh) of the Valdai Hills in central Russia, at an elevation of 220 m (720 ft).[10] For 115 km (71 mi) of its length, it serves as the border between Belarus and Ukraine. Its estuary, or liman, used to be defended by the strong fortress of Ochakiv.

On the Dnepr River to the south of Komarin urban-type settlement, Braghin District, Gomel Region the southern extreme point of Belarus is situated.[11]

Tributaries of the Dnieper

The Dnieper has many tributaries (up to 32,000) with 89 being rivers of 100+ km.[12] The main ones, in orographic sequence, are:

Dnieper basin showing peoples in the ninth century

Many small direct tributaries also exist, such as, in the Kiev area, the Syrets (right bank) in the north of the city, the historically significant Lybid (right bank) passing west of the centre, and the Borshahivka (right bank) to the south.

The water resources of the Dnieper basin compose around 80% out of all Ukraine.[12]


Dnieper Rapids were part of trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks, first mentioned in the Primary Chronicle. The route was probably established in the late eighth and early ninth centuries and gained significant importance from the tenth until the first third of the eleventh century. On the Dnieper the Varangians had to portage their ships round seven rapids, where they had to be on guard for Pecheneg nomads.

Along this middle flow of the Dnieper, there were nine major rapids (although some sources cite a fewer number of them), obstructing almost the whole width of the river, about 30-40 smaller rapids, obstructing only part of the river, and about 60 islands and islets.

After Dnieper Hydroelectric Station was built in 1932, they were inundated by Dnieper Reservoir.


There is a number of irrigation canals and at least one navigational canal.


The river is part of the Quagga mussel's native range.[13] The mussel has been accidentally introduced around the world where it has become an invasive species.[13]

Reservoirs and hydroelectric power

From the mouth of Prypiat River to Kakhovka Hydroelectric Station is a cascade of dams and hydroelectric stations.[12]

The most noted was the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station or (DniproHES) near Zaporizhia, built in 1927–1932 with an output of 558 MW. It was destroyed during the Second World War, and rebuilt in 1948 with an output of 750 MW.

The others are: Kakhovka (1950–56), Kremenchuk (1954–60), Kiev (1960–64), Dniprodzerzhynsk (1956–64), Kaniv (1963–75).

Those dams that used to generate hydroelectric power of ten percent of Ukraine's total electricity, form water reservoirs.

The reservoirs are Kiev (922 km2 or 356 sq mi), Kaniv (675 km2 or 261 sq mi), Kremenchuk (2,250 km2 or 870 sq mi), Dniprodzerzhynsk (567 km2 or 219 sq mi), Dnipro (420 km2 or 160 sq mi), and Kakhovka (2,155 km2 or 832 sq mi).

Regions and cities

Satellite image of the Dnieper and its tributaries



Major cities, over 100,000 in population, are in bold script.

Cities and towns located on the Dnieper are listed in order from the river's source (in Russia) to its mouth (in Ukraine):

Arheimar, a capital of the Goths, was located on the Dnieper, according to the Hervarar saga.[14]


Almost 2,000 km (1,200 mi) of the river is navigational (to the city of Dorogobuzh).[12] The Dnieper is important for the transport and economy of Ukraine: its reservoirs have large ship locks, allowing vessels of up to 270 by 18 metres (886 ft × 59 ft) to access as far as the port of Kiev and thus create an important transport corridor. The river is used by passenger vessels as well. Inland cruises on the rivers Danube and Dnieper have been a growing market in recent decades.

Upstream from Kiev, the Dnieper receives the water of the Pripyat River. This navigable river connects to the Dnieper-Bug canal, the link with the Bug River. Historically, a connection with the Western European waterways was possible, but a weir without a ship lock near the town of Brest has interrupted this international waterway. Poor political relations between Western Europe and Belarus mean there is little likelihood of re-opening this waterway in the near future.[15]

Navigation is interrupted each year by freezing in winter, and severe winter storms.

The Dnieper in the arts

Visual arts

The River Dnieper has been a subject for artists, great and minor, over the centuries. Major artists with works based on the Dnieper are Arkhip Kuindzhi and Ivan Aivazovsky.

Popular culture

  • The river is one of the symbols of the Ukrainian nation.[16] There are several names that connect the name of the river with Ukraine: Overdnieper Ukraine, Right-bank Ukraine, Left-bank Ukraine, and others.
  • Some of the cities on its banks—Dnipropetrovsk, Dniprorudne, Kamianka-Dniprovska—are named after the river.
  • The Zaporozhian Cossacks lived on the lower Dniepr and their name refers to their location "beyond the cataracts".[17]
  • The folk metal band Turisas have a song called "The Dnieper Rapids" on their 2007 album The Varangian Way.[18]
  • Leon Bolier featured a track called "Dnipro" in his debut 2-CD album Pictures. The track is said to be inspired by his visit to Kiev in May 2008.
  • The river is described in the works of Taras Shevchenko as Dnipro (He roars and groans the Dnipro wide) and mentioned in the national anthem of Ukraine.
  • The river is referred to as Dnipro, in the song "Hey, Dnipro, Dnipro".[19]
  • Briefly mentioned in the science fiction/adventure novel The Crisis Pendant by Charlie Patterson.
  • Roberto Bolaño's novel 2666 features the Dnieper as a significant feature of the village of Hans Reiter.


The Dnieper River is close to the Prydniprovsky Chemical Plant radioactive dumps (near Dniprodzerzhynsk), and susceptible to leakages of radioactive waste. The river is also close to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station (Chernobyl Exclusion Zone) that is located next to the mouth of the Prypiat River.

See also

References and footnotes

  1. ^ a b c d "Main Geographic Characteristics of the Republic of Belarus. Main characteristics of the largest rivers of Belarus". Land of Ancestors. Data of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus. 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  2. ^ Zastavnyi, F.D. Physical Geography of Ukraine. Rivers of Ukraine. Dnieper. Kiev: "Forum", 2000
  3. ^ Masliak, P., Shyshchenko, P. Geography of Ukraine. Kiev: "Zodiak-eko", 1998
  4. ^ Website about Dnieper
  5. ^ Mishyna, Liliana. Hydrographic research of Dnieper river. Derzhhidrohrafiya.
  6. ^ a b Mallory, J.P. and Victor H. Mair. The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples from the West. London: Thames and Hudson, 2000. p. 106
  7. ^ Абаев В. И. Осетинский язык и фольклор (Ossetian language and folklore). Moscow: Publishing house of Soviet Academy of Sciences, 1949. p. 236
  8. ^ Jordanes, Getica 269.
  9. ^ Özü özeni
  10. ^ a b  
  11. ^ "Main Geographic Characteristics of the Republic of Belarus. Coordinates of the extreme points of the state frontier". Land of Ancestors. The Scientific and Production State Republican Unitary Enterprise "National Cadastre Agency" of the State Property Committee of the Republic of Belarus. 2011. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c d Splendid Dnieper. There is no straighter river. Ukrinform. 4 July 2015
  13. ^ a b Benson, AJ. "Dreissena rostriformis bugensis Andrusov, 1897". Nonindigenous Aquatic Species. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  14. ^ An English translation of Hervar saga by Kershaw at the Wayback Machine (archived March 28, 2006)
  15. ^ NoorderSoft Waterways Database Archived November 9, 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Work on the subject Ukrainian national symbols. Library of Ukrainian literature.
  17. ^ "...the Zaporohjans whose name meant 'those who live beyond the cataracts'...", Henryk Sienkiewicz, With Fire and Sword, chap. 7.
  18. ^ Releases | Turisas: The Official Battleground
  19. ^ Hey, Dnipro, Dnipro on YouTube

External links

  • Volodymyr Kubijovyč, Ivan Teslia, Dnieper River at the Encyclopedia of Ukraine
  • Site about Dnieper—objects over the river, photos, facts
  • Dnieper river charts
  • "Комсомольская правда" об угрозах плотины Киевской ГЭС и водохранилища [1]
  • "Аргументы и факты" о реальных угрозах дамбы Киевского водохранилища и ГЭС [2]
  • "Известия" о проблематике плотины Киевского водохранилища и ГЭС [3]
  • Эксперт УНИАН об угрозах дамбы Киевского водохранилища [4]
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