Not to be confused with Northern Dvina.
For other uses, see Daugava (disambiguation).
Other name(s) Western Dvina, Russian: Западная Двина (Západnaya Dviná), Belarusian: Заходняя Дзвіна ([zaˈxodnʲaja dzʲvʲiˈna]), German: Düna
Country Belarus, Latvia, Russia, Lithuania, Estonia
Main source Valdai Hills, Russia
221 m (725 ft)
River mouth Gulf of Riga, Baltic Sea
0 m (0 ft)
Basin size 87,900 km2 (33,900 sq mi)[1]
Physical characteristics
Length 1,020 km (630 mi)[1]
  • Average rate:
    678 m3/s (23,900 cu ft/s)
The drainage basin of the Daugava
Daugava sunset in Riga.
The Swedish army bombarding the fortress of Daugavgriva at the Daugava's estuary in Latvia.

The River Daugava or Western Dvina is a river rising in the Valdai Hills, Russia, flowing through Russia, Belarus, and Latvia and into the Gulf of Riga. The total length of the river is 1,020 km (630 mi):[1] 325 km (202 mi) in Russia, 338 km (210 mi) in Belarus,[1] and 352 km (219 mi) in Latvia.[2]

Within Latvia it flows through Latgale, Zemgale, Vidzeme and Riga, before flowing into the Gulf of Riga.[3]


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


According to the Max Vasmer's Etymological Dictionary, the toponym Dvina clearly cannot stem from a Uralic language, and it possibly comes from Indo-European word which used to mean river or stream.[4]


The river began experiencing environmental deterioration in the era of Soviet collective agriculture (producing considerable adverse water pollution runoff) and a wave of hydroelectric power projects.[5]

Hydroelectric dams

There are three hydroelectric dams on the Daugava – Rīgas HES just upstream from Riga or 35 km (22 mi) from the mouth of the river, Ķegums HPP another 35 km (22 mi) further up or 70 km (43 mi) from the mouth, and Pļaviņas HPP another 37 km (23 mi) upstream or 107 km (66 mi) from the mouth. A fourth one, Daugavpils HES, has been planned but has faced strong opposition. Belarus plans to build several hydroelectric dams on the Belarusian part of Western Dvina.

Cities, towns and settlements


Andreapol, Zapadnaya Dvina and Velizh.


Ruba, Vitebsk, Beshankovichy, Polotsk with Boris stones strewn in the vicinity, Navapolatsk, Dzisna, Verkhnedvinsk, and Druya.


Krāslava, Daugavpils, Līvāni, Jēkabpils, Pļaviņas, Aizkraukle, Jaunjelgava, Lielvārde, Kegums, Ogre, Ikšķile, Salaspils and Riga.


For millennia, the mouth of the Daugava and other shores of the Gulf of Riga were settlement locations of early humans, carrying out an initial hunter-gatherer subsistence, and utilizing the waters of the Daugava estuary as fishing and gathering areas for aquatic biota. Beginning around the sixth century AD, Viking explorers crossed the Baltic Sea and entered the Daugava River, navigating upriver into the Baltic interior.

In medieval times the Daugava was an important navigation trading route for transport of furs from the north and Byzantine silver. The Riga area was a key element 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 at present day Riga. Since the Late Middle Ages the western part of the basin has come under various national rule; for example the Latvian town of Daugavpils, located on the western Daugava, has variously been under papal rule as well as Slavonic, Polish, German and Russian sway until Latvian independence at the end of the Cold War.

Water quality

Upstream of the Latvian town of Jekabpils the pH has a characteristic value of about 7.8; in this reach the calcium ion has a typical concentration of around 43 milligrams per liter; nitrate has a concentration of about 0.82 milligrams per liter (as nitrogen); phosphate ion is measured at 0.038 milligrams per liter; and oxygen saturation was measured at eighty percent. The high nitrate and phosphate load of the Daugava is instrumental to the buildup of extensive phytoplankton biomass in the Baltic Sea; other European rivers contributing to such high nutrient loading of the Baltic are the Oder and Vistula Rivers.

In Belarus, water pollution of the Daugava is considered moderately severe, with the chief sources being treated wastewater, fish-farming and agricultural chemical runoff (e.g. herbicides, pesticides, nitrate and phosphate).



Kirov Bridge, Vitebsk.


Southern Bridge, Island Bridge, Railway Bridge, Stone Bridge and Shroud Bridge, Riga.

Dams of Rīgas HES, Ķegums HPP and Pļaviņas HPP

Vienības tilts, in Daugavpils and also bridges in Jēkabpils and Krāslava. Ferry crossing in Līvāni.

Main tributaries


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "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. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  2. Latvian Encyclopedia. 2. Riga: Valērija Belokoņa izdevniecība. 2003. p.  137. ISBN 9984-9482-2-6.
  3. "Introducing Daugava River Valley". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
  4. Фасмер, Макс. Этимологический словарь Фасмера (in Russian). p. 161.
  5. C.Michael Hogan (2012). "Daugava River". Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment.

Further reading

Coordinates: 57°3′42″N 24°1′50″E / 57.06167°N 24.03056°E / 57.06167; 24.03056

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