Longest Rivers Of Russia

The Yenisei River in the forest on a quiet summer morning.
The Yenisei River in the forest on a quiet summer morning.

Russia's Mighty Rivers

Russia has a vast geographical area, and has many rivers that flow through its expanses. Yenisei is the most prominent one that originates from the Sayan Mountains in the Southern Siberia. It flows into the Kara Sea, a part of the Arctic Ocean. Together with its headwaters tributaries, the Angara and Selenga rivers, it forms the longest river system in Russia and has an estimated length of 3,445 miles. The second one is the Ob-Irtysh river system that Russia shares with other countries, namely Kazakhstan, China, and Mongolia, with a length of 3,364 miles. Ob river forms due to the confluence of two rivers in the Atlay mountains and Irtysh is its principal tributary. Some other longest river systems to pass through Russia are the Amur-Argun, Lena, Volga, Nizhnyaya, and Vilyuy, respectively. All of these are more than 1,800 miles in length. There are also other rivers such as the Kolyma, Ishim, and the Ural which are also listed among the top ten longest rivers of Russia.

Economic and Cultural Significance

The river basin of the Yenisei-Angara-Selenga serves as a home to numerous prosperous cities buzzing with economic activities. The capital city of Russia, Moscow itself lies along the river Volga. There are also Hydroelectric power stations, shipping companies, rich mineral deposits, and much more in the river basin making it quite important for Russia and the people living in its vast basin. Rivers such as the Ob, Yenisei, and the Volga have immense economic importance because of their easy navigation. They have been in use for transportation since time immemorial.

There are many cultural groups residing on the banks of these rivers that have their roots going back to the Bronze Age. Many cultural communities residing in the upper reach of the river system have a distinctive language as well, including the Kets (or the Ostyaks) and the Dolgans. In fact, the Gorbunovskaya culture that flourished on the banks of the river Ob dates back to between 3,000 and 2,000 BC.

Riverine Habitats and Biodiversity

The Yenisei-Angara River System offers a rich habitat to an approximate 55 species of fishes, including the Siberian sturgeons, tenches, Arctic flounders, Sterfet sturgeons, Common roaches, and more. The system also supports taiga flora that comprised mainly of coniferous trees such as latches, firs, and cedars. One can also find Arctic tundra vegetation in the north characterized by mosses and lichens. For many animals and birds, the river system is a home. There are the Siberian musk deer, roe deer in the taiga forests along the banks of Yenisei and birds such as Black-billed capercaillies, Pallas’s rose–finches, and Siberian blue robins. Every year migratory birds such as ducks and geese, as well as swans, also make their ways into the river basin during the summertime.

Environmental Threats

As per recent reports published in local newspapers, the Yenisei River is under serious environmental threats due to contamination by radioactive discharge from a nearby factory. Added to these woes are other contaminants, namely sewage, industrial waste, and pesticides, which are gradually contaminating the longest river. There are high levels of hydrocarbons in the Ob River while the Volga is continuously facing threats from oil spills. Apart from a territorial dispute over Amur river with China, there are no territorial disputes regarding any of the other top ten longest rivers of Russia with any other countries.

The Longest Rivers Of Russia

RankMajor River Systems Wholly or Partially in RussiaTotal System Length
3,445 miles (shared with Mongolia)
3,364 miles (shared with Kazakhstan, China, and Mongolia)
2,763 miles (shared with China and Mongolia)
4Lena2,736 miles
5Volga2,266 miles
6Nizhnyaya Tunguska
1,857 miles
7Vilyuy1,647 miles
8Kolyma1,562 miles
9Ishim1,522 miles (shared with Kazakhstan)
10Ural1,509 miles (shared with Kazakhstan)

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