The Major Rivers Draining Into the Baltic Sea

The Neva River in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

More than 250 rivers and streams empty their waters into the Baltic Sea. Rivers empty into the sea at different rates, and those with the highest cubic meters per second drainage are considered to be major rivers. The major rivers draining into the Baltic Sea are listed below.


The Neva is the largest river that drains into the Baltic Sea, with a discharge of 2500 m3/s. In terms of the average discharge of rivers in Europe, Neva River ranks fourth after the Volga, Danube, and Rhine. The 281,000 km2 basin is shared by Russia and Finland. The Neva is approximately 74 km long, flows through Saint Petersburg, Kivorsk, and Shlisselburgand, and is the only river that flows from Lake Ladoga. It is of historical significance, including the Battle of the Neva (1240), the founding of Saint Petersburg (1703), and Siege of Leningrad during World War II.


The second largest river draining into the Baltic Sea is the Vistula, which has a mean discharge of 1080 m3/s. With a total length of 1047 km, Vistula is the largest and longest river in Poland. The total area of the basin formed by the river is 194,424 km2, the majority of which is in Poland (168,699 km2). However, minor tributaries forming the drainage basin exist in Belarus, Slovakia, and Ukraine. The source of Vistula is the Barania Gora, which is located in southern Poland. The river passes through several cities, including Krakow, Warsaw, Sandomierz, Plock, and Tczew. The river drains into the Vistula Lagoonor, straight into the Gdansk Bay of the Baltic Sea.


The Daugava, also known as Western Dvina, is the third largest river draining into the Baltic Sea. The mean water discharge from the Daugava into the Baltic Sea is 678 m3/s, and the total area of the basin formed by the river is 87,900 km2. The basin is shared by Russia, which is the source of Daugava, and Latvia. The source of Daugava is located in Valdai Hills, and then flows into Belarus and Latvia. The Daugava has a total length of 1020km.


The Neman is the fourth largest river draining into the Baltic Sea. The average water discharge from the Neman into the Baltic Sea is 678 m3/s. The 98,200 km2 basin is shared by Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia. The source of the Neman is located in Belarus, and the river then flows through Lithuania, before emptying its waters into the Curonian Lagoon, and then finally into the Baltic Sea at Klaipeda. The Neman is also commonly referred to as Nemunas, Memel, Nyoman or Niemen.


The Kemijoki is the fifth largest river draining into Baltic Sea, with a mean discharge of 556 m3/s. The 51,127 km2 basin formed by the Kemijoki is co-owned by Finland and Norway, which is the source of the river. With a length of 550 km, Kemijoki is the longest river in Finland. The river passes through Kemijarvi and Rovaniemi, which is where the the Kemijoki merges with the Ounasjoki River.

The Major Rivers Draining Into The Baltic Sea

RankRiverMean Discharge (m3/s)Basin (km2)States Sharing the Basin
1Neva2500281,000Russia, Finland
2Vistula1080194,424Poland (tributaries in Belarus, Ukraine, and Slovakia)
3Daugava67887,900Russia (source), Latvia
4Neman67898,200Belarus (source), Lithuania, Russia
5Kemijoki55651,127Finland, Norway
6Oder540118,861Czech Republic (source), Poland, Germany
7Lule älv50625,240Sweden
8Narva41556,200Russia, Estonia
9Torne älv38840,131Norway (source), Sweden, Finland

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