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Catchment area of ​​the Volga

Catchment area of ​​the Volga

location western Russia
River system Volga
source in the Valdai heights
near the village of Volgowerkhovye
57 ° 15 ′ 5 ″  N , 32 ° 28 ′ 5 ″  E
Source height 228  m above sea level Baltic Sea  ( Kronstadt gauge )
muzzle in the Caspian Sea Coordinates: 45 ° 7 ′ 32 ″  N , 47 ° 41 ′ 50 ″  E 45 ° 7 ′ 32 ″  N , 47 ° 41 ′ 50 ″  E
Mouth height 28  m below the  Baltic Sea  (Kronstadt gauge)
Height difference 256 m
Bottom slope 0.07 ‰
length 3530 km
Catchment area 1,360,000 km²
Outflow at the Volgograd gauge NNQ (November 1920)
HHQ (June 1926)
1140 m³ / s
8064 m³ / s
39,400 m³ / s
Left tributaries Wetluga , Kama , Großer Irgis
these and others see below
Right tributaries Oka , Surah
these and others see below
Big cities Tver , Rybinsk , Yaroslavl , Nizhny Novgorod , Cheboksary , Kazan , Ulyanovsk (formerly Simbirsk), Tolyatti (formerly Stavropol), Samara (formerly Kuibyshev), Saratov , Volgograd (formerly Tsaritsyn, Stalingrad), Wolschski , Astrachan (in ancient times Itil )
Navigable Inland waterway from Rzhev to the mouth over 3200 km; almost 3000 km of additional waterways
The Volga in Ulyanovsk

The Volga in Ulyanovsk

The Volga ( Russian Волга , Tatar Идел / Idel , ersjanisch Рав , Moksha Рава , Chuvash Атӑл , Wiesenmari Юл , Bergmari Йыл , ancient Greek Ῥᾶ Rha ) is a river in the European part of Russia . With a length of 3530 km, it is the longest and richest river in Europe and one of the longest rivers on earth (17th place).

The Volga rises in the Valdai heights at 228  m above sea level. Baltic Sea , initially flows eastwards, then continues southwards through the Eastern European Plain and flows into the Caspian Sea at 28  m below the  Baltic Sea . The difference in altitude between the source and the mouth is 256 m.

The Volga has about 200 major tributaries, its catchment area of 1.36 million km² includes a total of 151,000 rivers, streams and temporary watercourses. On the lower reaches of Volgograd , the mean annual runoff is 264 billion m³.

The river is navigable from its mouth in the Caspian Sea to the upper reaches and represents the core of the waterway between the Black and Caspian Seas in the south and the Baltic Sea and the White Sea in the north. All barrages are equipped with sluices. The Volga is connected to the Baltic Sea to the west via the Volga-Baltic Sea Canal , and via the White Sea-Baltic Sea Canal , which branches off from this canal to the north, to the White Sea and thus also to the Arctic Ocean . It is connected to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean via the Volga-Don Canal and the Don , which flows west .


Source and upper course

Volga source

The Volga rises and runs in the western part of Russia . Its source is in the Valdai heights near the village of Volgovskhovye (Волговерховье, 228  m ).

Frozen Volga in Tver

After the water of the Volga has flowed down from the Valdai Heights, it reaches Rzhev and flows from now on to the northeast. From here small barges can navigate the river. Down the river lies the city of Tver (1931–1990 Kalinin ), which was founded in 1135 and lies on the highway from Moscow to Saint Petersburg . The Volga flows on through the Ivankovo ​​Reservoir to Dubna , where the Moscow Canal joins. The Dubna reservoir was built, among other things, to supply Moscow with water via the Moscow Canal. Via Kimry , the river reaches the Uglich reservoir , which is dammed up in Uglich by a dam. Further north, the Volga flows through the Rybinsk Reservoir , the oldest reservoir on the Volga. Mologa , Suda , Scheksna and the Volga-Baltic Sea Canal flow into this lake .

Middle course

Mouth of the Oka (left) in Nizhny Novgorod

Behind the dam is Rybinsk (1946–1957 Shcherbakov and 1984–1991 Andropov ), the largest transshipment port on the Upper Volga. The Volga now flows southeast and reaches Yaroslavl , one of the oldest cities in central Russia from the 11th century . The industry based here today discharges most of the wastewater into the river. About 70 km downstream is Kostroma , an old town (founded in 1152) at the mouth of the river of the same name. Behind Kineschma the Volga is dammed again, here is the 80 km long Gorkier reservoir . In Nizhny Novgorod the Oka flows into the Volga from the right , which now flows to the east. At Novocheboksarsk in the Chuvash Republic , the Volga is dammed to form the Cheboksarsk reservoir . In the 1980s tens of thousands of Mari people living upstream were relocated to make way for the lake. Cheboksary is located on the reservoir . 150 km further to the east is the city of Kazan , the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan , where the Volga turns south. The city is located at the upper end of the approximately 550 km long Kuibyshev reservoir , which with 6450 km² is the largest reservoir on the Volga and in Europe. Here the Kama flows into the Volga. The cities of Ulyanovsk (formerly Simbirsk) and Tolyatti (also spelled Togliatti) lie on the shore . Samara (1935–1990 Kuibyshev ) is located on the Volga loop (Russian: Samarskaja luka ), a city of millions. Here the Volga flows into the Samara from the left. Syzran is at the end of the Volga loop .

Lower course and mouth

Volga in Astrakhan
Cruise ships on the Volga

The Saratower reservoir , which begins here, was dammed near Balakowo . Below this industrial city, the Great Irgis flows into the Volga. The Volga Germans used to live between Balakowo and Saratow before they were deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan during World War II . Even today, however, the cities of Engels and Marx on the left bank are a reminder of the German settlement. Only on this section is the Volga as it was before. The characteristic shape of the mountain and meadow landscape - in the form of the up to 375  m high Volga plateau in the west and the flatly structured meadow bank in the east - is common from Kazan to Volgograd, but the reservoirs flood parts of the shore regions. Only between Balakowo and Marx is the Volga left in its natural state.

An arm of the Volga in the estuary

Across from Engels and thus west of the Volga lies Saratov, a university town with around 880,000 inhabitants. This is where the 600 km long Volgograd reservoir begins , on the banks of which the city of Kamyshin is located. Below the dam are the cities of Wolschski and Volgograd (formerly Tsaritsyn, Stalingrad), of which the latter extends over 80 km on the west bank of the Volga.

At Wolschski, where the Volga Delta begins, the Akhtuba estuary branches off from the Volga, which is by far the longest of these arms and runs parallel (northeast) to the river. Behind Volgograd, the Volga reaches the so-called Volga Bend, where it bends to the southeast.

In the southern part of the city of Volgograd (since 1931 the Krasnoarmeiski district, previously an independent village Sarepta, from 1920 Krasnoarmeisk), the Volga-Don Canal branches off to the west. It was mainly excavated by camp inmates between 1950 and 1957 and forms the connection to the Azov and Black Seas and thus to the Mediterranean via the Don . Below Volgograd, the Volga gradually flows into the Caspian Depression , which adjoins the Eastern European Plain in the southeast .

Around the beginning of the main area of ​​the Volga Delta lies the city of Astrakhan (formerly Itil ), from where the Volga Delta branches out into numerous estuary arms. Parts of the delta are under nature protection because the area is an important stopover for migratory birds and also the habitat of numerous other animal species. The large estuary arms of the Volga include Bachtemir and Tabola in the west , between which the Volga flows, and a little further east the long estuary branch of Akhtuba flows.

The shores of the Caspian Sea are reached by the branches of the Volga estuary about 75 to 100 km south or southeast of Astrakhan. The mouth height on the lake shore is 28 m below sea level , which results in a gradient of 256 m between the source and the mouth.


The actual Volga is now designated as an inland waterway from Rzhev to Krasnye Barrikady (below Astrakhan) over a length of 3193 km . In addition, there are waterways 961 km long on the Volga arms below Volgograd (such as Akhtuba) and in the Volga Delta, as well as 1806 km of alternative routes, port approaches and the like on the reservoirs below the Rybinsk Reservoir. Above Rschew, the Volga is a further 250 km (up to 10 km below the source) for smaller vehicles to the Upper Volga Lakes (Sterschsch, Wselug, Peno and Volgo), which have been dammed by a weir to the Upper Wolgastausee since 1845, navigable, but not continuously due to missing or decommissioned locks. This section is accordingly no longer an inland waterway.


Early settlements

Archaeological finds show that people have settled on the Volga since ancient times. Thus, in different epochs, the important residential and commercial cities of Greater Bulgaria (near the city of Bolgar in Tatarstan), Sarai (not far from Volgograd) and Itil (Astrakhan) were on the banks of the river. Some historians consider the fertile area around the estuary to be the cradle of the Indo-European peoples. The river offered the earlier peoples a traffic route that enabled them to conquer the areas as far as Central Asia and to do business there. The Varangians also used the Volga for their trade route from Sweden to Persia. The old Turkish name of the Volga Atıl or İtil is handed down in Menander with Attilas ( Ἀττίλας ).

Middle Ages and later

In the 7th – 10th In the 19th century the empire of the Volga Bulgarians emerged in the area of ​​Volga and Kama ; it existed until the Mongol invasion in 1236. The upper Volga Basin was a core area of ​​early Russian history with the Principality of Vladimir-Suzdal , the Grand Duchy of Tver , the Ryazan and the Grand Duchy of Moscow .

The Mongol invasion of the Rus describes the subjugation of the Russian principalities (Rus) by the troops of Batu Khan in the years 1237 to 1240. In 1242 Batu established his capital Sarai on the lower reaches of the Volga not far from today's Volgograd and founded the Khanate of the Golden Horde , the great Ruled parts of the Volga basin.

The successor to the Golden Horde was the Kazan Khanate . During the Moscow-Kazan Wars in the 15th and 16th centuries , the Moscow Empire gained supremacy in the entire Central Volga region.

In the years 1763 to 1767, many Germans accepted the invitation of the German-born Tsarina Katharina II and settled near Saratow as Volga Germans .


On the Volga there are some reservoirs of the Volga-Kama Cascade , of which these are the largest Volga reservoirs (viewed downstream) :


The tributaries of the Volga include with their respective orographic allocation (l = left-hand side, r = right-hand side) , length, mouth position and size of the catchment area (viewed downstream) :

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Волга (Volga), formerly accessible information from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia (GSE), 3rd edition 1969–1978 (Russian)
  2. a b UNESCO - Volga at Volgograd ( Memento of the original from March 25, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , on webworld.unesco.org  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / webworld.unesco.org
  3. List of Inland Waterways of the Russian Federation (Government Ordinance of December 19, 2002, Russian)
  4. ^ Peter B. Golden: An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples , p. 129 f.
  5. Волга (Volga) in the State Water Directory of the Russian Federation (Russian) - with tributaries (Russian), on textual.ru

See also


  • Guido Hausmann: Mother Volga. A river as a place of remembrance from the 16th to the early 20th century . Frankfurt / M. 2009 (= Campus Historical Studies, 50), ISBN 978-3-593-38876-2 .
  • Max Kiessling : Ra . In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume IA, 1, Stuttgart 1914, Col. 1-8.
  • Gerhard Konzelmann: The Volga. Stream of Destiny of the Nations . Hamburg: Hoffmann and Campe 1994.
  • Olga Licenberger: German Protestant Settlements on the Volga . Nuremberg: HFDR 2013, ISBN 978-3-9807701-0-1 .
  • Tatiana Kuschtewskaja: The Volga. History and stories from Moscow to Astrakhan. Berlin 2011.
  • Albert Obholz: The Catholics on the Volga. “Home is history - history is our mission!” (The life of the Volga German Catholics on the Volga from the founding of the colony to the present day) . Nuremberg: HFDR 2012, ISBN 978-3-9809613-9-4 .
  • Dorothy Zeisler-Vralsted: Rivers, memory, and nation-building. A history of the Volga and Mississippi rivers . New York [u. a.]: Berghahn 2015, ISBN 978-1-78238-431-1 .

Web links

Commons : Volga  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files