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Neman (river)

Neman (river)

Eastern european river

Neman River (Lithuanian Nemunas, German Memel or Njemen, Polish Niemen) river in Belarus and Lithuania. The Neman River is 582 miles (937 km) long and drains about 38,000 square miles (98,000 square km). It rises near Minsk in the Minsk Upland and flows west through a broad, swampy basin; it then turns north into Lithuania, cutting through terminal moraines in a narrow, sinuous valley. Near Kaunas, where there is a hydroelectric plant, it turns west and crosses another marshy basin to enter the Kurisches Gulf of the Baltic Sea south of Klaipeda (Memel; hence the river’s German name). Navigation on the river is possible for 416 miles (670 km) to Belitsa; much timber is rafted.


The following rivers are tributaries to the river Neman/Nemunas (from source to mouth):

Left: Servach, Mowchadz’, Shchara, Zelvyanka, Svislach, Lasosna, Czarna Hańcza, Zembrė, Peršėkė, Šešupė, Tylzha

Right: Western Berezina, Gauja, Kotra, Haradnichanka, Merkys, Verknė, Strėva, Neris, Nevėžis, Dubysa, Mituva, Jūra, Minija.

Economic significance

Much of the river is used for fishing, hydropower generation, water supply, industry, agriculture, recreation, tourism, and water transport.

Lithuania has tabled local plans to dredge it, below Kaunas, to make it more consistently usable.

The largest cities on the river are Grodno in Belarus, Alytus and Kaunas in Lithuania, and Sovetsk in the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia. The river basin has a population of 5.4 million inhabitants. Industrial activities in the Belarusian section include metal processing, chemical industries, pulp and paper production, and manufacturing of building materials, as well as food-processing plants. In Lithuania, the city of Kaunas, with about 400,000 inhabitants, is the country's principal user of the river; the local industries that impact the river are hydropower generation, machinery, chemical, wood processing and paper production, furniture production, textile and food-processing. In Kaliningrad, industrial centers near the river include Sovetsk and Neman, which have large pulp and paper production facilities. Above Kaunas a dam was built in 1959 to serve the Kaunas Hydroelectric Power Plant. The resulting Kaunas Reservoir (Lithuanian: Kauno marios) is the largest such lake in Lithuania. It occupies 63.5 km2 (24+1⁄2 sq mi); its length is 93 km (58 mi); its greatest depth is 22 m (72 ft). The reservoir is a popular destination for Lithuanian yachting.

The Augustów Canal, built in the 19th century, connects the Neman to the Vistula River.


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