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Coordinates: 57°3′42″N 24°1′50″E / 57.06167°N 24.03056°E / 57.06167; 24.03056
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Western Dvina
The drainage basin of the Daugava
Native name
CountryBelarus, Latvia, Russia
Physical characteristics
SourceValdai Hills
 • locationPenovsky District, Tver Oblast, Russia
 • coordinates56°52′16″N 32°31′44″E / 56.871°N 32.529°E / 56.871; 32.529
 • elevation221 m (725 ft)
MouthGulf of Riga
 • location
Riga, Latvia
 • coordinates
57°3′42″N 24°1′50″E / 57.06167°N 24.03056°E / 57.06167; 24.03056
 • elevation
0 m (0 ft)
Length1,020 km (630 mi)[1]
Basin size87,900 km2 (33,900 sq mi)[1]
 • average678 m3/s (23,900 cu ft/s)

The Daugava (Latgalian: Daugova; Polish: Dźwina; German: Düna) or Western Dvina (Russian: Западная Двина, romanizedZapadnaya Dvina; Belarusian: Заходняя Дзвіна; Estonian: Väina; Finnish: Väinäjoki) is a large river rising in the Valdai Hills of Russia that flows through Belarus and Latvia into the Gulf of Riga of the Baltic Sea. The Daugava rises close to the source of the Volga. It is 1,020 km (630 mi) in length,[1] of which 352 km (219 mi) are in Latvia[2] and 325 km (202 mi) in Russia. It is a westward-flowing river, tracing out a great south-bending curve as it passes through northern Belarus.

Latvia's capital, Riga, bridges the river's estuary four times. Built on both riverbanks, the city centre is 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from the river's mouth and is a significant port.


The Daugava flows through Riga in Latvia

According to Max Vasmer's Etymological Dictionary, the toponym Dvina cannot stem from a Uralic language; instead, it possibly comes from an Indo-European word which used to mean river or stream.[3] The name Dvina resembles strongly Danuvius which itself derived from the Proto-Indo-European *dānu, meaning "large river".

The Finno-Ugric names Vēna (Livonian), Väinajogi (Estonian), and Väinäjoki (Finnish) all stem from Proto-Finnic *väin, meaning "a large, peacefully rolling river".


The total catchment area of the river is 87,900 km2 (33,900 sq mi), of which 33,150 km2 (12,800 sq mi) are in Belarus.[1]


The following rivers are tributaries to the river Daugava (from source to mouth):


The Swedish army bombarding the fortress of Dünamünde at the Daugava's estuary in Latvia

Humans have settled at the mouth of the Daugava and along the shores of the Gulf of Riga for millennia, initially participating in a hunter-gatherer economy and utilizing the waters of the Daugava estuary for fishing and gathering. Beginning around the sixth century CE, Viking explorers crossed the Baltic Sea and entered the Daugava River, navigating upriver into the Baltic interior.[4]

In medieval times, the Daugava was part of the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks, an important route for the transport of furs from the north and of Byzantine silver from the south. The Riga area, inhabited by the Finnic-speaking Livs, became a key location of settlement and defence of the mouth of the Daugava at least as early as the Middle Ages, as evidenced by the now destroyed fort at Torņakalns on the west bank of the Daugava in present-day Riga. Since the Late Middle Ages, the western part of the Daugava basin has come under the rule of various peoples and states; for example, the Latvian town of Daugavpils variously came under papal, Slavonic, Polish, German, and Russian rule until the restoration of the Latvian independence in 1990 at the end of the Cold War.[citation needed]


Daugava sunset in Riga

The following are some of the cities and towns built along the Daugava:





Port of Riga on the Daugava river by findseajobs.com
Port of Riga on the Daugava

The river began experiencing environmental deterioration in the Soviet era due to collective agriculture (producing considerable adverse water pollution runoff) and hydroelectric power projects.[5] This is the river that the Vula river flows into.

Water quality[edit]

Upstream of the Latvian town of Jekabpils, the river's pH has a characteristic value of about 7.8 (slight alkaline). In this area, the concentration of ionic calcium is around 43 milligrams per liter, nitrate is about 0.82 milligrams per liter, ionic phosphate is 0.038 milligrams per liter, and oxygen saturation is 80%. The high nitrate and phosphate load of the Daugava has contributed to the extensive buildup of phytoplankton biomass in the Baltic Sea; the Oder and Vistula rivers also contribute to the high nutrient loading of the Baltic.[citation needed]

In Belarus, water pollution of the Daugava is considered moderately severe, with the chief sources being treated wastewater, fish-farming, and agricultural chemical runoff (such as herbicides, pesticides, nitrates, and phosphates).[6][7]


  1. ^ a b c d "Main Geographic Characteristics of the Republic of Belarus. Main characteristics of the largest rivers of Belarus". Land of Ancestors. Data of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus. 2011. Archived from the original on Jan 15, 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  2. ^ "Gruberts D. "Daugava". Nacionālā enciklopēdija". Nacionālā enciklopēdija. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  3. ^ Фасмер, Макс. Этимологический словарь Фасмера (in Russian). p. 161.
  4. ^ Compare: Frucht, Richard C. (2005-01-01). Eastern Europe: An Introduction to the People, Lands, and Culture. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781576078006. Retrieved 2017-07-06. The Daugava was an important transit river (carrying everything from Vikings to floating lumber) for centuries [...].
  5. ^ C.Michael Hogan (2012). "Daugava River". Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment.
  6. ^ Towards water security in Belarus: a synthesis report. OECD Studies on Water. 2020. pp. 19–20. doi:10.1787/488183c4-en. ISBN 9789264583962. Retrieved 27 June 2021. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)
  7. ^ "Water Report 15". fao.org. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved 27 June 2021.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]