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Coordinates: 46°30′00″N 32°20′00″E / 46.50000°N 32.33333°E / 46.50000; 32.33333
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Dnieper in Kyiv
Dnieper River drainage basin (lighter tones)
Native name
Physical characteristics
 • locationValdai Hills, Russia
 • coordinates55°52′18.08″N 33°43′27.08″E / 55.8716889°N 33.7241889°E / 55.8716889; 33.7241889
 • elevation220 m (720 ft)
MouthDnieper Delta
 • location
 • coordinates
46°30′00″N 32°20′00″E / 46.50000°N 32.33333°E / 46.50000; 32.33333
 • elevation
0 m (0 ft)
Length2,201 km (1,368 mi)
Basin size504,000 km2 (195,000 sq mi)
 • locationKherson
 • average1,670 m3/s (59,000 cu ft/s)
Basin features
 • leftSozh, Desna, Trubizh, Supiy, Sula, Psel, Vorskla, Samara, Konka (Kherson Oblast), Konka (Zaporizhzhia Oblast), Bilozerka
 • rightDrut, Berezina, Pripyat, Teteriv, Irpin, Stuhna, Ros, Tiasmyn, Bazavluk, Inhulets
Protection status
Official nameDnieper River Floodplain
Designated29 May 2014
Reference no.2244[1]

The Dnieper (/(də)ˈnpər/), also called Dnepr or Dnipro (/dəˈnpr/),[a] is one of the major transboundary rivers of Europe, rising in the Valdai Hills near Smolensk, Russia, before flowing through Belarus and Ukraine to the Black Sea. Approximately 2,200 km (1,400 mi) long,[2] with a drainage basin of 504,000 square kilometres (195,000 sq mi), it is the longest river of Ukraine and Belarus and the fourth-longest river in Europe, after the Volga, Danube, and Ural rivers.[3]

In antiquity, the river was part of the Amber Road trade routes. During the Ruin in the later 17th century, the area was contested between the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Russia, dividing what is now Ukraine into areas described by its right and left banks. During the Soviet period, the river became noted for its major hydroelectric dams and large reservoirs. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster occurred on the Pripyat River, a tributary of the Dnieper, just upstream from its confluence with the Dnieper. The Dnieper is an important navigable waterway for the economy of Ukraine and is connected by the Dnieper–Bug Canal to other waterways in Europe. During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, certain segments of the river were made part of the defensive lines between territory controlled by the Russians and the Ukrainians.[4][5][6]



Human representation of the Dnieper river (known as Borysthenes) on an Ancient Greek coin of Pontic Olbia, 4th–3rd century BC
Pre-1918 photo with the old spelling of Dnieper (Днѣпръ)

The river is also sometimes called by the Russian name Dnepr.[7][8] The initial D in Dnieper is generally silent when pronounced in English, although it may be sounded: /ˈnpər/[9] or /dəˈnpər/.[10] It derives from Russian: Днепр, romanizedDnepr[11][better source needed] (pre-revolutionary spelling Днѣпръ, Dněpr).

Dnipro derives from Ukrainian: Дніпро, romanizedDnipro.[11] The English pronunciation is /dəˈnpr/.[12] The Ukrainian name has a rare form Дніпр, Dnipr and rare dialectal Дніпер, Dniper.[13] The Middle Ukrainian form attested in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries was Днѣпръ, Dnǐpr.[13] The city of Dnipro is named for the river.

The name varies slightly in the local Slavic languages of the three countries through which it flows:

These names are all cognate, deriving from Old East Slavic Дънѣпръ (Dŭněprŭ). The origin of this name is disputed but generally derived from either Sarmatian *Dānu Apara ("Farther River") in parallel with the Dniester ("Nearer River") or from Scythian *Dānu Apr ("Deep River") in reference to its lack of fords,[17][18] from which was also derived the Late Antique name of the river, Danapris (Δαναπρις).[19]


The earlier Graeco-Roman name of the river was Borysthenes (Ancient Greek: Βορυσθενης, romanizedBorusthenēs; Latin: Borysthenes, Ukrainian: Бористен, Борисфен, romanizedBorysten, Borysfen[13]), which was derived from a Scythian name whose form was:

  • either Baurastāna, meaning "yellow place,"[20]
  • or Baurustāna meant "place of beavers."[21]
    • this name was linked to the mantle of beaver skins worn by the Iranic water goddess Arəduuī Sūrā Anāhitā, whose epithet of āp (Avestan: 𐬁𐬞, lit.'water') was connected to the name of the daughter of the river-god Borysthenēs in Scythian mythology, the Earth-and-Water goddess Api, whose own name meant "water."[21]

Ovid used Borysthenius, an adjective derived from Borysthenes, as the river's poetic Latin name.[22]


The Huns' name for the river, Var, was derived from Scythian *Varu, meaning "Broad." This name was connected to the Graeco-Roman name of the Volga river, Oarus (Ancient Greek: Οαρος, romanizedOaros; Latin: Oarus), which was also derived from Scythian *Varu.[23]

Other names

In Ukrainian it is also known poetically as Славутич, Slavutych or Славута, Slavuta,[13] from an old name used in Kievan Rus'. This is due to the influence of the Old East Slavic epic The Tale of Igor's Campaign and its modern adaptations on Ukrainian literature. This usage also lent its name to the city of Slavutych, founded in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 to house displaced workers,[24][page needed] and to the Slavutych station of the Kyiv Metro.

In Crimean Tatar, the river is known as Özü. In Turkish it is Özü or Özi.[25]


The total length of the river is variously given as 2,145 kilometres (1,333 mi)[2] or 2,201 km (1,368 mi),[26][27][28][29] of which 485 km (301 mi) are within Russia, 700 km (430 mi) are within Belarus,[2] 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,[30] 118,360 km2 (45,700 sq mi) are within Belarus.[2]

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).[30] 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.[citation needed][31]

The southernmost point in Belarus is on the Dnieper to the south of Kamaryn in Brahin Raion.[32]


Waterbodies in Belarus, including a section of the Dnieper river

The Dnieper has many tributaries (up to 32,000) with 89 being rivers of 100+ km.[33] The main ones are, from its source to its mouth, with left (L) or right (R) bank indicated:

Context of the Dnieper basin showing peoples in the ninth century

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% of the total for all Ukraine.[33]


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

The Dnieper Rapids were part of the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks, first mentioned in the Kyiv Chronicle.[clarification needed] 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 9 major rapids (although some sources cite a smaller number), obstructing almost the whole width of the river, about 30 to 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.[34] The mussel has been accidentally introduced around the world, where it has become an invasive species.[34]


Thematic map (upper) and false-colour IR from satellite images of the Dnieper delta, captured 8 August 2015

The city of Kherson lies on the northern bank, upstream of the Dnieper delta, before the Dnieper meets the Southern Bug river in the Dnieper–Bug estuary.


Nowadays the Dnieper River suffers from anthropogenic influence resulting in numerous emissions of pollutants.[35] The Dnieper is close to the Prydniprovsky Chemical Plant radioactive dumps (near Kamianske) and susceptible to leakage of its radioactive waste. The river is also close to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station (Chernobyl Exclusion Zone) which is located next to the mouth of the Pripyat River.


Almost 2,000 km (1,200 mi) of the river is navigable (to the city of Dorogobuzh).[33] The Dnieper is important for transportation in the economy of Ukraine.[citation needed] Its reservoirs have large ship locks, allowing vessels of up to 270 by 18 metres (886 ft × 59 ft) access as far as the port of Kyiv, and thus are an important transportation corridor.[citation needed] The river is used by passenger vessels as well. Inland cruises on the rivers Danube and Dnieper have had a growing market in recent decades.[citation needed]

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.[36] River navigation is interrupted each year by freezing and severe winter storms.

Reservoirs and hydroelectric power

Dams and hydroelectric stations in the Dniepr. is located in Ukraine
Kyiv HES
Kyiv HES
Kaniv HES
Kaniv HES
Kremenchuk HES
Kremenchuk HES
Middle Dnieper HES
Middle Dnieper HES
Dnieper HES
Dnieper HES
Kahkovka HES†
Kahkovka HES†
Dams and hydroelectric stations in the Dniepr. (Ukraine)

From the mouth of the Pripyat River to the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Station, there are six sets of dams and hydroelectric stations, which produce 10% of Ukraine's electricity.[33] The Kakhovka dam was destroyed on 6 June 2023 during the Russian invasion of Ukraine,[37] with the subsequent drying up of the Kakhovka Reservoir revealing the original course of the river in the area and disconnecting four canal networks.[38]

The first constructed was the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station (or DniproHES) near Zaporizhzhia, built between 1927 and 1932 with an output of 558 MW.[39] It was destroyed during World War II, but was rebuilt in 1948 with an output of 750 MW.[citation needed]

Location Dam Reservoir area Hydroelectric station Date of construction
Kyiv Kyiv Reservoir 922 km2 or 356 sq mi Kyiv Hydroelectric Station 1960–1964
Kaniv Kaniv Reservoir 675 km2 or 261 sq mi Kaniv Hydroelectric Station 1963–1975
Kremenchuk Kremenchuk Reservoir 2,250 km2 or 870 sq mi Kremenchuk Hydroelectric Station 1954–1960
Kamianske Kamianske Reservoir 567 km2 or 219 sq mi Middle Dnieper Hydroelectric Power Plant 1956–1964
Zaporizhzhia Dnieper Reservoir 420 km2 or 160 sq mi Dnieper Hydroelectric Station 1927–1932; 1948
Kakhovka Kakhovka Reservoir 2,155 km2 or 832 sq mi Kakhovka Hydroelectric Station 1950–1956

[citation needed]

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.[40]

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.[41]

The 2018 film Volcano was filmed at the river in Beryslav, Kherson Oblast.


In 1941, Mark Fradkin wrote "Song of the Dnieper" to the words of Yevgeniy Dolmatovsky.[42]

Image gallery

Popular culture

See also


  1. ^ Belarusian: Дняпро, romanizedDniapro;
    Russian: Днепр, romanizedDnepr, pronounced [dⁿʲepr];
    Ukrainian: Дніпро, romanizedDnipro, pronounced [dⁿ⁽ʲ⁾iˈprɔ] .

References and footnotes

  1. ^ "Dnieper River Floodplain". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ "Dnieper River". www.britannica.com. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  4. ^ Cooper, Helene; Schmitt, Eric; Barnes, Julian E. (12 November 2022). "Winter Will Be a Major Factor in the Ukraine War, Officials Say". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  5. ^ Ovsyaniy, Kyrylo. "Russian Forces Digging Trenches, Fortifications On Banks Of Dnieper River, Satellite Imagery Shows". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  6. ^ "Ukraine in 'final stage' of reclaiming west bank of Dnipro River". Reuters. 11 November 2022. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  7. ^ "Dnepr". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 3 December 2023.
  8. ^ "Dnepr". Dictionary.com (Random House Unabridged Dictionary). Retrieved 3 December 2023.
  9. ^ "Dnieper". Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  10. ^ "Dnieper". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 2 December 2020.
  11. ^ a b Cybriwsky, Roman A. (2018). Along Ukraine's river : a social andenvironmental history of the Dnipro. Budapest: Central European University Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-963-386-205-6. OCLC 1038735219. Much of the world knows the Dnipro only as the Dnieper, a name based on the Russian-language Dnepr and widely used before Ukraine achieved its independence in 1991, in concert with the fall of the Soviet Union. "Dnipro" is the Ukrainian-language word for the river, and is now its official name for international usage.
  12. ^ Dnipro www.dictionary.com
  13. ^ a b c d Runyc'kyj, Jaroslav B. (1982). An Etymological Dictionary of the Ukrainian Language. Vol. II. Ottawa: Ukrainian Mohylo-Mazepian Academy of Sciences and Ukrainian Language Association. pp. 154–56.
  14. ^ Блакітная кніга Беларусі: Энцыклапедыя. — Мінск: Беларуская Энцыклапедыя, 1994. — С. 144. — 415 с. — 10 000 экз.
  15. ^ Турбин, Сергей Иванович (1879). "Днѣпр и приднѣпровье: Описаніе губерній, смоленкой, Минской. Черниговской, Киевской, Полтавской, Екатеринославской, Херсонской, Таврической и Курской".
  16. ^ "Тлумачення / значення слова "ДНІПЕР" | Словник української мови. Словник Грінченка" [Interpretation / meaning of the word "DNIPER" | Dictionary of the Ukrainian language. Grinchenko's dictionary]. hrinchenko.com.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Абаев В. И. Осетинский язык и фольклор (tr "Ossetian language and folklore"). Moscow: Publishing house of Soviet Academy of Sciences, 1949. p. 236
  19. ^ Smith, Philip (1854). "BORY´STHENES". In Smith, William (ed.). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: John Murray.
  20. ^ Bukharin 2013, p. 23.
  21. ^ a b Kullanda 2013, p. 39-41.
  22. ^ Lewis, Charlton; Short, Charles (1879). "Bŏrysthĕnes, is". A Latin Dictionary. Founded on Andrews' edition of Freund's Latin dictionary. revised, enlarged, and in great part rewritten by. Charlton T. Lewis, Ph.D. and. Charles Short, LL.D. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  23. ^ Harmatta 1999, p. 129.
  24. ^ Яцик, А. В.; Яковлєв, Є. О.; Осадчук, В. О. (2002). А. В. Яцика (ed.). До питання щодо спуску Київського водосховища (Do pytanni︠a︡ shchodo spusku kyïvsʹkoho vodoskhovyshcha) (in Ukrainian). Kiev: Оріяни (Oriany). pp. 6–12. ISBN 966-7373-78-9.
  25. ^ Temel Öztürk (1988–2016). "ÖZÜ: Günümüzde Ukrayna sınırları içinde bulunan tarihî bir kale ve şehir.". TDV Encyclopedia of Islam (44+2 vols.) (in Turkish). Istanbul: Turkiye Diyanet Foundation, Centre for Islamic Studies.
  26. ^ Zastavnyi, F. D. (2000). Physical Geography of Ukraine. Rivers of Ukraine. Dnieper. Forum. Kyiv.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  27. ^ Masliak, P.; Shyshchenko, P. (1998). Heohrafii︠a︡ Ukraïny [Geography of Ukraine]. Zodiak-eko. Kyiv. ISBN 966-7090-06-X.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  28. ^ "Website about Dnieper". Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  29. ^ Mishyna, Liliana. Hydrographic research of Dnieper river Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Derzhhidrohrafiya.
  30. ^ a b Kubiyovych, Volodymyr; Ivan Teslia. "Dnieper River". Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Retrieved 19 January 2007.
  31. ^ Sigismund von Herberstein places 'Oczakow' (today's "Ochakiv") on the coast of the Black Sea (Ponti Evxini) in his 1549 map.www.baarnhielm.net Archived 17 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ "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.
  33. ^ a b c d Splendid Dnieper. There is no straighter river. Ukrinform. 4 July 2015
  34. ^ a b Benson, AJ. "Dreissena rostriformis bugensis Andrusov, 1897". Nonindigenous Aquatic Species. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  35. ^ Snytko, V.; Shirokova, V.; Ozerova, N.; Romanova, O.; Sobisevich, A. (2017). "Hydrological situation of the Upper Dnieper". GeoConference SGEM. 17 (31): 379–384.
  36. ^ "PC-Navigo – Dé routeplanner voor de binnenwateren" [PC-Navigo – The route planner for inland waterways]. PC Navigo. Archived from the original on 9 November 2005.
  37. ^ Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 6, 2023, Institute for the Study of War, 6 June 2023, Wikidata Q119224855, archived from the original on 7 June 2023
  38. ^ "Ukraine dam: Satellite images reveal Kakhovka canals drying up". BBC. 22 June 2023.
  39. ^ Hewett, Edward A.; Winston, Victor H. (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.
  40. ^ "An English translation of Hervar saga by Kershaw". Archived from the original on 28 March 2006. Retrieved 28 March 2006.
  41. ^ Victory Salute. Song of the Dnieper (1983) on YouTube
  42. ^ Kyiv Bandurist Capella – Song of the Dnieper on YouTube
  43. ^ Work on the subject Ukrainian national symbols. Library of Ukrainian literature.
  44. ^ "...the Zaporohjans whose name meant 'those who live beyond the cataracts'...", Henryk Sienkiewicz, With Fire and Sword, chap. 7.
  45. ^ "Releases". www.turisas.com.


External links