The Dnieper /(də)ˈnpər/[2][3] is one of the major rivers of Europe, rising in the Valdai Hills near Smolensk, Russia, before flowing through Belarus and Ukraine to the Black Sea. It is the longest river of Ukraine and Belarus and the fourth-longest river in Europe, after Volga, Danube and Ural. The total length is approximately 2,200 km (1,400 mi)[4] with a drainage basin of 504,000 square kilometres (195,000 sq mi). Historically, the river was an important barrier, dividing Ukraine into right and left banks. Nowadays, 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.

The Dnieper River in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine
Dnieper River drainage basin
Native nameДнепр  (Russian)
Дняпро  (Belarusian)
Дніпро  (Ukrainian)
  • Russia
  • Belarus
  • Ukraine
  • Dorogobuzh
  • Smolensk
  • Mogilev
  • Kyiv
  • Cherkasy
  • Dnipro
  • Zaporizhzhia
  • Kherson
Physical characteristics
  locationValdai Hills, Russia
  coordinates55°52′18.08″N 33°43′27.08″E
  elevation220 m (720 ft)
MouthDnieper Delta
46°30′00″N 32°20′00″E
0 m (0 ft)
Length2,201 km (1,368 mi)
Basin size504,000 km2 (195,000 sq mi)
  average1,670 m3/s (59,000 cu ft/s)
Basin features
  leftSozh, Desna, Trubizh, Supiy, Sula, Psel, Vorskla, Samara, Konka, Bilozerka
  rightDrut, Berezina, Prypiat, Teteriv, Irpin, Stuhna, Ros, Tiasmyn, Bazavluk, Inhulets
Protection status
Official nameDnieper River Floodplain
Designated29 May 2014
Reference no.2244[1]

In antiquity, the river was known to the Greeks as the Borysthenes and was part of the Amber Road.

Etymology and name in various languages

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

The name Dnieper may be derived either from Sarmatian Dānu apara "the river on the far side" or from Scythian Dānu apr (Dānapr) "deep river". By way of contrast, the name Dniester either derives from "the close river" or from a combination of Scythian Dānu (river) and Ister, the Thracian name for the Dniester.[5][6]

Names in local languages

In the languages of the three countries it flows through it has essentially the same name, albeit with different pronunciations:

  • Russian: Днепр, tr. Dnepr, IPA: [ˈdʲnʲepr]; formerly spelled Днѣпръ;[7]
  • Belarusian: Дняпро, romanized: Dnyapro, [dnʲaˈprɔ], or Днепр Dnyepr,[8] [ˈdnʲɛpr];
  • Ukrainian: Дніпро, romanized: Dnipro, IPA: [d(j)n(j)iˈprɔ] (listen); poetic Дніпр, Dnipr; formerly Дніпер[9] Dniper, [ˈd(j)n(j)iper], or older Днѣпръ (Dnipr, [ˈd(j)n(j)ipr]).

Other names

Pre-1918 photo with the old spelling of Dnieper (Днѣпръ)
  • The late Greek and Roman authors called it ΔάναπριςDanapris and Danaper respectively
  • Old East Slavic name used at the time of Kievan Rus' was Slavuta or Slavutych
  • The Huns called it Var,[10]
  • Bulgars – Buri-Chai.
  • Its former name in the Tatar language is Üze, from Kipchak Uzeu.
  • The name in Crimean Tatar: Özü,[11] hence Ochakiv (formerly Özü-cale, Dnieper fortress)
  • In Romanian, it is called "Nipru".

The river is mentioned both by the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century BC as Borysthenes (Βορυσθένης).[12]


The total length of the river is variously given as 2,145 kilometres (1,333 mi)[4] or 2,201 km (1,368 mi),[13][14][15][16] of which 485 km (301 mi) are within Russia, 700 km (430 mi) are within Belarus,[4] 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,[17] 118,360 km2 (45,700 sq mi) are within Belarus.[4]

The source of the Dnieper is the sedge bogs (Akseninsky Mokh) of the Valdai Hills in central Russia, at an elevation of 220 m (720 ft).[17] 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.

The southernmost point in Belarus is on the Dnieper to the south of Kamaryn in Brahin Raion.[18]

Tributaries of the Dnieper

Belarus section of the Dnieper river

The Dnieper has many tributaries (up to 32,000) with 89 being rivers of 100+ km.[19] The main ones are, from its source to its mouth:

Dnieper basin showing peoples in the ninth century
  • Vyazma (L)
  • Vop (R)
  • Khmost (R)
  • Myareya (L)
  • Drut (R)
  • Berezina (R)
  • Sozh (L)
  • Prypiat (R)
  • Teteriv (R)
  • Irpin (R)
  • Desna (L)
  • Stuhna (R)
  • Trubizh (L)
  • Ros (R)
  • Tiasmyn (R)
  • Supiy (L)
  • Sula (L)
  • Psyol (L)
  • Vorskla (L)
  • Oril (L)
  • Samara (L)
  • Konka (L)
  • Bilozerka (L)
  • Bazavluk (R)
  • Inhulets (R)

Many small direct tributaries also exist, such as, in the Kyiv 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.[19]


Rapids at Dnieper in 1915
Tractus Borysthenis or Dnieper (from Bovzin city to Chortyca island) in 1662

Dnieper Rapids were part of trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks, first mentioned in the Kyiv 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 the Dnieper hydroelectric station was built in 1932, they were inundated by Dnieper Reservoir.


There are a number of canals connected to the Dnieper:

  • The Dnieper–Donbas Canal;
  • The Dnieper–Kryvyi Rih Canal;
  • The Kakhovka Canal (southeast of the Kherson region);
  • The Krasnoznamianka Irrigation System in the southwest of the Kherson region;
  • The North Crimean Canal—will largely solve the water problem of the peninsula, especially in the arid northern and eastern Crimea;
  • The Inhulets Irrigation System.


The river is part of the quagga mussel's native range.[20] The mussel has been accidentally introduced around the world, where it has become an invasive species.[20]


Satellite images of the Dnieper estuary, captured 8 August 2015

The city of Kherson is nearest to the Dnieper estuary. It has no large port facilities.


Nowadays the Dnieper River suffers from anthropogenic influence and obtain numerous emissions of pollutants.[21] The Dnieper is close to the Prydniprovsky Chemical Plant radioactive dumps (near Kamianske), 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.

Almost 2,000 km (1,200 mi) of the river is navigational (to the city of Dorogobuzh).[19] 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 Kyiv 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 Kyiv, 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 any ship lock near the town of Brest, Belarus, has interrupted this international waterway. Poor political relations between Western Europe and Belarus mean there is little likelihood of reopening this waterway in the near future.[22] River navigation is interrupted each year by freezing in winter, and severe winter storms.

Reservoirs and hydroelectric power

From the mouth of the Prypiat River to the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Station, there are six sets of dams and hydroelectric stations, which produce 10% of Ukraine's electricity.[19]

The first constructed was the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station (or DniproHES) near Zaporizhzhia, built between 1927 and 1932 with an output of 558 MW.[23] It was destroyed during World War II, but was rebuilt in 1948 with an output of 750 MW.

LocationDamReservoir areaHydroelection stationDate of construction
KyivKyiv Reservoir922 km2 or 356 sq miKyiv Hydroelectric Station1960–1964
KanivKaniv Reservoir675 km2 or 261 sq miKaniv Hydroelectric Station1963–1975
KremenchukKremenchuk Reservoir2,250 km2 or 870 sq miKremenchuk Hydroelectric Station1954–1960
KamianskeKamianske Reservoir567 km2 or 219 sq miMiddle Dnieper Hydroelectric Power Plant1956–1964
ZaporizhzhiaDnieper Reservoir420 km2 or 160 sq miDnieper Hydroelectric Station1927–1932; 1948
KakhovkaKakhovka Reservoir2,155 km2 or 832 sq miKakhovka Hydroelectric Station1950–1956

Regions and cities

Satellite image of the Dnieper and its tributaries


  • Smolensk Oblast, Russia
  • Vitebsk Region, Belarus
  • Mogilev Region, Belarus
  • Gomel Region, Belarus
  • Chernihiv Oblast, Ukraine
  • Kyiv Oblast, Ukraine
  • Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine
  • Kirovohrad Oblast, Ukraine
  • Poltava Oblast, Ukraine
  • Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine
  • Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Ukraine
  • Kherson Oblast, Ukraine


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):

  • Dorogobuzh, Russia
  • Smolensk, Russia
  • Orsha, Belarus
  • Shklow, Belarus
  • Mogilev, Belarus
  • Bychaw, Belarus
  • Rahachow, Belarus
  • Zhlobin, Belarus
  • Rechytsa, Belarus
  • Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Ukrayinka, Ukraine
  • Kaniv, Ukraine
  • Cherkasy, Ukraine
  • Kremenchuk, Ukraine
  • Horishni Plavni, Ukraine
  • Kamianske, Ukraine
  • Dnipro, Ukraine
  • Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine
  • Marhanets, Ukraine
  • Nikopol, Ukraine
  • Enerhodar, Ukraine
  • Kamianka-Dniprovska, Ukraine
  • Nova Kakhovka, Ukraine
  • Kherson, Ukraine

Arheimar, a capital of the Goths, was located on the Dnieper, according to the Hervarar saga.[24]

In the arts


The River Dnieper has been a subject of chapter X of a story by Nikolai Gogol A Terrible Vengeance (1831, published in 1832 as a part of the Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka short stories collection). It is considered as a classical example of description of the nature in Russian literature. The river was also described in the works of Taras Shevchenko.

In the adventure novel The Long Ships (also translated Red Orm), set during the Viking Age, a Scanian chieftain travels to the Dnieper Rapids to retrieve a treasure hidden there by his brother, encountering many difficulties. The novel was very popular in Sweden and is one of few to depict a Viking voyage to eastern Europe.

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.


The River Dnieper makes an appearance in the 1964 Hungarian drama film The Sons of the Stone-Hearted Man (based on the novel of the same name by Mór Jókai), where it appears when two characters are leaving Saint Petersburg but get attacked by wolves.

In 1983, the concert program "Song of the Dnieper" from the "Victory Salute" series was released, dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the liberation of the city of Kiev from the German fascist invaders. The program includes songs by Soviet composers, Ukrainian folk songs and dances performed by the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Kiev Military District led by A. Pustovalov, P. Virsky Ukrainian National Folk Dance Ensemble, Kyiv Bandurist Capella, the Military Band of the Headquarters of the Kiev Military District led by A. Kuzmenko, singers Anatoliy Mokrenko, Lyudmila Zykina, Anatoliy Solovianenko, Dmytro Hnatyuk, Mykola Hnatyuk. Filming on the battlefield, streets and squares of Kiev. Scriptwriter - Victor Meerovsky. Directed by Victor Cherkasov. Operator - Alexander Platonov.[25]


In 1941, Mark Fradkin wrote "Song of the Dnieper" to the words of Yevgeniy Dolmatovsky.[26]

  • The river is one of the symbols of the Ukrainian nation[27] and is mentioned in the national anthem of Ukraine.
  • 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 — Dnipro, Dniprorudne, Kamianka-Dniprovska — are named after the river.
  • The Zaporozhian Cossacks lived on the lower Dnieper and their name refers to their location "beyond the rapids".[28]
  • The river is referred to as Dnipro, in the song "Hey, Dnipro, Dnipro".
  • The folk metal band Turisas have a song called "The Dnieper Rapids" on their 2007 album The Varangian Way.[29]
  • 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 Kyiv in May 2008.
  • Roberto Bolaño's novel 2666 features the Dnieper as a significant feature of the village of Hans Reiter.
  • Beat laureate Spencer Hash spent childhood summers observing tide patterns in the Dnieper. It provides the backdrop for most of his 1998 novel Embassy.

See also

  • Threat of the Dnieper reservoirs
  • List of rivers of Russia
  • List of rivers of Belarus
  • List of rivers of Ukraine
  • Trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks

References and footnotes

  1. "Dnieper River Floodplain". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  2. "Dnieper". Lexico UK Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  3. "Dnieper". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  4. "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.
  5. Mallory, J. P.; Mair, Victor H. (2000). The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples from the West. London: Thames and Hudson. p. 106. ISBN 0-500-05101-1.
  6. Абаев В. И. Осетинский язык и фольклор (Ossetian language and folklore). Moscow: Publishing house of Soviet Academy of Sciences, 1949. p. 236
  7. Турбин, Сергей Иванович (1879). "Днѣпр и приднѣпровье: Описаніе губерній, смоленкой, Минской. Черниговской, Киевской, Полтавской, Екатеринославской, Херсонской, Таврической и Курской".
  8. Блакітная кніга Беларусі: Энцыклапедыя. — Мінск: Беларуская Энцыклапедыя, 1994. — С. 144. — 415 с. — 10 000 экз.
  9. "Тлумачення / значення слова "ДНІПЕР" | Словник української мови. Словник Грінченка". hrinchenko.com.
  10. Jordanes, Getica 269.
  11. crh:Özü özeni
  12. Volodymyr Kubijovyč, Ivan Teslia. Dnipro River. Encyclopedia of Ukraine.
  13. Zastavnyi, F. D. (2000). Physical Geography of Ukraine. Rivers of Ukraine. Dnieper. Forum. Kyiv.
  14. Masliak, P.; Shyshchenko, P. (1998). Heohrafii︠a︡ Ukraïny [Geography of Ukraine]. Zodiak-eko. Kyiv. ISBN 966-7090-06-X.
  15. "Website about Dnieper". Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  16. Mishyna, Liliana. Hydrographic research of Dnieper river Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Derzhhidrohrafiya.
  17. Kubiyovych, Volodymyr; Ivan Teslia. "Dnieper River". Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Retrieved 19 January 2007.
  18. "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.
  19. Splendid Dnieper. There is no straighter river. Ukrinform. 4 July 2015
  20. Benson, AJ. "Dreissena rostriformis bugensis Andrusov, 1897". Nonindigenous Aquatic Species. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  21. Snytko, V.; Shirokova, V.; Ozerova, N.; Romanova, O.; Sobisevich, A. (2017). "Hydrological situation of the Upper Dnieper". GeoConference SGEM. 17 (31): 379–384.
  22. "PC-Navigo – Dé routeplanner voor de binnenwateren". PC Navigo. Archived from the original on 9 November 2005.
  23. Edward A. Hewett, Victor H. Winston (1991). Milestones in Glasnost and Perestroyka: Politics and people. Brookings Institution. p. 19. ISBN 9780815736240. The importance of Chernobyl' for Soviet industry is best illustrated by comparing it to the key energy project of Stalin's industrialization, the famous Dnieper hydroelectric station, completed in 1932. The largest European hydroelectric station of its time, it had a capacity of 560 MW.
  24. "An English translation of Hervar saga by Kershaw". Archived from the original on 28 March 2006. Retrieved 28 March 2006.
  25. Victory Salute. Song of the Dnieper (1983) on YouTube
  26. Kyiv Bandurist Capella - Song of the Dnieper on YouTube
  27. Work on the subject Ukrainian national symbols. Library of Ukrainian literature.
  28. "...the Zaporohjans whose name meant 'those who live beyond the cataracts'...", Henryk Sienkiewicz, With Fire and Sword, chap. 7.
  29. "Releases".
  • "Комсомольская правда" об угрозах плотины Киевской ГЭС и водохранилища
  • "Аргументы и факты" о реальных угрозах дамбы Киевского водохранилища и ГЭС
  • "Известия" о проблематике плотины Киевского водохранилища и ГЭС
  • Эксперт УНИАН об угрозах дамбы Киевского водохранилища
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.