Major Rivers Of Kazakhstan

Many rivers pass through the vast country of Kazakhstan.
Many rivers pass through the vast country of Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan is a country in Central Asia that used to be part of the Soviet Union and bordering both China and Russia. Kazakhstan is not only the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the largest landlocked country. The Turgai is the longest river wholly within Kazakhstan while the Irtysh River is the longest to partially pass through the country. Below are a few of the major rivers in Kazakhstan.

Major Rivers Of Kazakhstan


Located in the Turgai Valley of Kazakhstan is The Turgai River with an average water flow of about nine cubic meters per second and drains its water into the endorheic basin. The Turgai Valley covers a basin active with erosion and deposit of some minerals including iron ore. The Turgai valley comprises of many rivers and lakes, but the Turgai River is the longest of them to wholly pass through Kazakhstan with a length of 513 miles.


The Irtysh is a river which is also the main tributary of the Ob River which passes through Russia, China, and Kazakhstan. The Ishim and the Tobol River are the main affluent of the Irtysh River. In Kazakhstan, a section of the Irtysh River accommodates three large hydroelectric plants including the Shulbinsk, Bakhtarma, and the Ust-Kamenogorsk. There are also some highways built where the Irtysh River pass through in Russia, China, and Kazakhstan. Since time immemorial the Irtysh River has been a subject of conflict. In the 1580s the Russians began to build towns and fortresses including Tobolsk and Tara, among others. In the 17th century, the Mongolians became a neighbor to Russia in the South and controlled the upper side of the Irtysh River which resulted in conflict with the Russians. In the 1750's the Qing Empire from China defeated the Mongolians which led to the Russians increasing security on their border. In 1881 the border issue with the Qing Empire was resolved for Russia through the Treaty of Saint Petersburg. The Irtysh River is the longest river to pass through Kazakhstan with a length of 2,640 miles.


The Ishim River passes through both Kazakhstan and Russia. The Ishim River is a tributary of the Irtysh River and is slightly navigable. The river freezes up during late November to March. To manage water levels and floods, a dam was constructed on the Ishim River in central Astana, a public beach. Kazakhstan intends to deepen the Ishim River to allow for small boats to pass through. The Ishim River is 1,522 miles long.


Originating from the south of Ural Mountains and emptying its waters into the Caspian Sea and flows through both Russia and Kazakhstan. It also happens to be the third longest river in Europe creating a border between the European and Asian continents. The Ural River is a habitat for some endangered species and migrating birds. The Ural is also home to numerous species of fish of the Caspian Sea who migrate to the Ural River Delta for spawning. The Ural River delta is also home to about 48 species of animals with most common predators and rodents. The water from the Ural supplies iron and steel industries, a hydroelectric plant and water reservoirs. Fishing is also an important activity on the Ural River delta accounting for half of Kazakhstan's fish catchment. The Ural River was highly contested since it was a major trade center situated on the Silk Road. After the Russian conquest of the Ural Basin fishing became the main activity. The Ural River is 1509 miles in length.

Other Rivers In Kazakhstan

There are plenty of rivers in Kazakhstan. The rivers provide water for fishing, hydroelectric power plants, mining industries, irrigation and many more activities including recreational purposes and providing a habitat for some marine and terrestrial animal species. The rivers of Kazakhstan are not only important to the ecosystem but also the culture of the people of Kazakhstan.

Major Rivers Of Kazakhstan

RankRivers of KazakhstanTotal Length
2,640 miles (shared with China and Russia)
1,522 miles (shared with Russia)
1,509 miles (shared with Russia)
4Syr Darya
1,374 miles (shared with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan)
989 miles (shared with Russia)
894 miles (shared with China)
663 miles (shared with Kyrgyzstan)
513 miles
9Emba442 miles
417 miles

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