Did you know that the longest river in Europe is situated in the utmost eastern part of the continent?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about the Volga River, one of the most important rivers in the world.
1. It flows all the way through Central and Southern Russia
The Volga River is an extremely long river located entirely within the borders of Russia. It flows all the way from an area northwest of Russia’s Capital Moscow in Central Russia to the Southern part of Russia.
The region it flows through is dominated by immense forests and steppes. The catchment area of the rivers is immense as it covers an area of 1,360,000 square kilometers (530,000 square miles).
The river eventually releases in the Caspian Sea in the southern part of the country. This also means that it’s part of the drainage basin of the world’s largest inland body of water, making it a closed basin.
2. The Volga emerges in a relatively low hilly area
Even though the region where the Volga emerges is referred to as the “Valdai Hills” or simply “Valdai,” this region in the northwestern part of Russia is far from mountainous.
This makes it all the more surprising that multiple other important rivers in the region emerge here, including the Daugava, the Lovat, the Msta, the Dnieper, and the Syas.
The location where the river emerges is situated at an elevation of just 225 meters (738 feet) above sea level. This spot is situated just northeast of Moscow and about 320 kilometers (200 miles) southeast of Saint Petersburg.
Remarkably, the river passes just north of Moscow but doesn’t flow through it. The river does pass through some large cities, including Tver, Dubna, Rybinsk, Yaroslavl, Nizhny Novgorod, and Kazan.
3. It’s the longest river in Europe by quite a distance but not in Russia
The Volga is by far the longest river in Europe and by quite a stretch. It has a total length of 3,531 kilometers (2,194 miles).
To give some reference to this number, the second-longest river in Europe, the Danube River, has a length of “just” 2,850 kilometers (1,770 miles).
One of the most remarkable facts about the Volga River is that it’s not the longest river in Russia. This honor is reserved for the Ob–Irtysh river system in Siberia which has a length of 5,410 kilometers (3,360 miles), the 7th-longest in the world.
4. It’s an important river in Russia for multiple reasons
Even though this is not an official title, the river is considered to be the national river in Russia. That’s why it’s sometimes referred to as “Волга-матушка” or “Volga-Matushka,” which translates to “Mother Volga.”
That’s mainly because the old Russian state, known as the “Rus’ Khaganate,” emerged along the banks of the river in the 8th and 9th centuries A.D.
The region itself has been inhabited by humans for at least 9,000 years, including multiple Slavic Tribes. It subsequently played a major role in the trading between Europe and Asia.
5. All of the dams on the river are optimized for navigation
More recently during the Soviet era and the industrialization of the region, multiple important dams were built on the Volga. The river was also widened in multiple places to facilitate navigation.
All of the dams on the river were equipped with ship locks. This allows ships to travel from the Caspian Sea, all the way to the location where the river emerges just north of Moscow. In that sense, the river has played a crucial role in the development of the region.
The most important developments in recent years were the construction of the Volga–Don Canal, a connection with the Don River which releases in the Black Sea, and the Moscow Canal, which connects the Volga with the Moskva River.
More interesting facts about the Volga River
6. The Volga River’s drainage basin is so huge that it drains most parts of Western Russia. This immense basin allows for irrigation and the production of hydroelectric power in the region as well.
7. The Volga, and more specifically the Moscow Canal, allows Russia’s capital to be connected to the White Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Sea of Azov, and the Black Sea.
8. The Volga empties into the Caspian Sea just below the city of Astrakhan. The delta of the river is immense as it has a length of 160 kilometers (99 miles) and features about 500 smaller rivers and canals.
9. 4 of the 10 biggest cities in Russia are located within the drainage basin of the river. It also has numerous tributaries, including major rivers such as the Kama, the Oka, the Vetluga, and the Sura. These all make up an area referred to as the Volga River system.
10. The ship locks on the Volga River allow for the passage of immense petroleum tankers. That’s mainly because they were built with dimensions of 290 by 30 meters (951 × 98 feet).
11. Because so many dams were built on the river during the Soviet era it also creates some of the largest reservoirs in the world. Some of these are the Volgograd Reservoir, the Saratov Reservoir, and the Kuybyshev Reservoir.
The Kuybyshev Reservoir has a surface area of 6,450 square kilometers (2,490 square miles), making it the largest artificial lake in Europe. With a length of 500 kilometers (310 miles) and a width of 35 kilometers (22 miles), it’s pretty huge indeed.
12. You’ll find some of the most amazing Orthodox religious structures and a large number of monasteries along the borders of the Volga River.
These are indeed some of the most picturesque spots in all of Russia, don’t you think?