Yenisei River

For the bandy club Yenisey, see Yenisey Krasnoyarsk Bandy Club.
Yenisei (Енисей)
Bii-Khem and Kaa-Khem near Kyzyl
Countries Mongolia, Russia
Regions Tuva, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Khakassia, Irkutsk Oblast, Buryatia, Zabaykalsky Krai
 - right Angara, Lower Tunguska, Stony Tunguska River
Cities Kyzyl, Shagonar, Sayanogorsk, Abakan, Divnogorsk, Krasnoyarsk, Yeniseysk, Lesosibirsk, Igarka, Dudinka
Source Mungaragiyn-Gol
 - location ridge Dod-Taygasyn-Noor, Mongolia
 - elevation 3,351 m (10,994 ft)
 - length 748 km (465 mi)
 - coordinates MN 50°43′46″N 98°39′49″E / 50.72944°N 98.66361°E / 50.72944; 98.66361
Mouth Yenisei Gulf
Length 5,540 km (3,442 mi)
Basin 2,580,000 km2 (996,144 sq mi)
Discharge for Igarka[1]
 - average 19,600 m3/s (692,167 cu ft/s)
 - max 112,000 m3/s (3,955,243 cu ft/s)
 - min 3,120 m3/s (110,182 cu ft/s)
The Yenisei basin, including Lake Baikal

The Yenisei (Russian: Енисе́й, Jenisej; Mongolian: Енисей мөрөн, Yenisei mörön); Buryat: Горлог мүрэн, Gorlog müren; Tyvan: Улуг-Хем, Ulug-Khem; Khakas: Ким суг, Kim sug[2] also Romanized Yenisey, Enisei, Jenisej,[3] is the largest river system flowing to the Arctic Ocean. It is the central of the three great Siberian rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean (the other two being the Ob and the Lena). Rising in Mongolia, it follows a northerly course to the Yenisei Gulf in the Kara Sea, draining a large part of central Siberia, the longest stream following the Yenisei-Angara-Selenga-Ider river system.

The maximum depth of the Yenisei is 24 metres (80 ft) and the average depth is 14 metres (45 ft). The depth of river outflow is 32 metres (106 ft) and inflow is 31 metres (101 ft).

Course of the river

The confluence of the rivers Kaa-Khem and Piy-Khem from the height of bird flight

The river flows through Tuva, Khakassia,[4] and the city of Krasnoyarsk.[5]

Its tributaries include the Angara, Nizhnyaya Tunguska, and Tuba rivers.[6]

Lake Baikal

Main article: Lake Baikal

The 320-kilometre (200 mi), partly navigable Upper Angara River feeds into the northern end of Lake Baikal from the Buryat Republic but the largest inflow is from the Selenga which forms a delta on the south-eastern side.

The river as seen from the trans-Siberian railway near Krasnoyarsk

Flora and Fauna

The Yenisei River basin (excluding Lake Baikal and lakes of the Khantayka River headwaters) is home to 55 native fish species, including two endemics: Gobio sibiricus (a gobionine cyprinid) and Thymallus nigrescens (a grayling).[7] Most fish found in the river basin are relatively widespread Euro-Siberian or Siberian species, such as northern pike (Esox lucius), common roach (Rutilus rutilus), common dace (Leuciscus leuciscus), Siberian sculpin (Cottus poecilopus), European perch (Perca fluviatilis) and Prussian carp (Carassius gibelio). The basin is also home to many salmonids (trout, whitefish, charr, graylings, taimen and relatives) and the Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii).[7]

The Yenisei River valley is habitat for numerous flora and fauna, with Siberian pine and Siberian larch being notable tree species. In prehistoric times Scots pine, Pinus sylvestris, was abundant in the Yenisei River valley circa 6000 BC.[8] There are also numerous bird species present in the watershed, including, for example, the hooded crow, Corvus cornix.[9]

Taimyr reindeer herd

The Taimyr reindeer herd, a migrating tundra reindeer (R.t. sibiricus), the largest reindeer herd in the world,[10][11] migrated to winter grazing ranges along the Enisei River.[12]:336


Inclined plane at Krasnoyarsk Dam

The first team to navigate the Yenisei's entire length, including its violent upper tributary in Mongolia, was an Australian-Canadian effort completed in September 2001. Ben Kozel, Tim Cope, Colin Angus and Remy Quinter were on this team. Both Kozel and Angus wrote books detailing this expedition,[13] and a documentary was produced for National Geographic Television.

A canal inclined plane was built on the river in 1985 at the Krasnoyarsk Dam.[14]


Ancient nomadic tribes such as the Ket people and the Yugh people lived along its banks. The Ket, numbering about 1000, are the only survivors today of those who originally lived throughout central southern Siberia near the river banks. Their extinct relatives included the Kotts, Assans, Arins, Baikots, and Pumpokols who lived further upriver to the south. The modern Ket lived in the eastern middle areas of the river before being assimilated politically into Russia during the 17th through 19th centuries.[15]

Wheat from the Yenisei was sold by Muslims and Uighurs during inadequate harvests to Bukhara and Soghd during the Tahirid era.[16]

Russians first reached the upper Yenisei in 1605, travelling from the Ob River, up the Ket River, portaging and then down the Yenisei as far as the Sym River.[17]

During World War II, Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire agreed to divide Asia along a line that followed the Yenisei River to the border of China, and then along the border of China and the Soviet Union.[18]


Studies have shown that the Yenisey suffers from contamination caused by radioactive discharges from a factory that produced bomb-grade plutonium in the secret city of Krasnoyarsk-26, now known as Zheleznogorsk.[19]


See also


  1. "Station: Igarka". Yenisei Basin. UNH / GRDC. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  2. A.Ochir. "History of the Mongol Oirats" 1993
  3. "Yenisei River". Hammond Quick & Easy Notebook Reference Atlas & Webster Dictionary. Hammond. p. 31. ISBN 0843709227.
  4. "Yenisei River: Siberia's blessing and curse". RT. 11 June 2010. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  5. Alan Taylor (23 August 2013). "A Year on the Yenisei River". The Atlantic. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  6. C Michael Hogan (13 May 2012). "Yenisei River". Encyclopedia of Earth. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  7. 1 2 Freshwater Ecoregions of the World (2008). Yenisei. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  8. Stein, Ruediger et al. 2003. Siberian river run-off in the Kara Sea, Proceedings in Marine Sciences, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 488 pages
  9. C. Michael Hogan. 2009. Hooded Crow: Corvus cornix,, ed, N. Stromberg
  10. Russell, D.E.; Gunn, A. (20 November 2013). "Migratory Tundra Rangifer". NOAA Arctic Research Program.
  11. Kolpashikov, L.; Makhailov, V.; Russell, D. (2014). "The role of harvest, predators and socio-political environment in the dynamics of the Taimyr wild reindeer herd with some lessons for North America". Ecology and Society.
  12. Baskin, Leonid M. (1986), "Differences in the ecology and behaviour of reindeer populations in the USSR", Rangifer, Special Issue (1): 333–340, retrieved 7 January 2015
  13. Five Months in a Leaky Boat: A River Journey Through Siberia, Kozel, 2003, Pan Macmillan
  14. Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses. (1989). Ship lifts: report of a Study Commission within the framework of Permanent ... PIANC. ISBN 978-2-87223-006-8. Retrieved 2011-12-14.
  15. Vajda, Edward G. "The Ket and Other Yeniseian Peoples". Retrieved 2006-10-27.
  16. Ian Blanchard (2001). Mining, Metallurgy and Minting in the Middle Ages: Asiatic supremacy, 425-1125. Franz Steiner Verlag. pp. 271–272. ISBN 978-3-515-07958-7.
  17. Fisher, Raymond Henry (1943). The Russian Fur Trade, 1550-1700. University of California Press.
  18. Weinberg, Gerhard L. Visions of Victory: The Hopes of Eight World War II Leaders Cambridge, England, United Kingdom:2005--Cambridge University Press
  19. David Hoffman (17 August 1998). "Wastes of War: Radioactivity Threatens a Mighty River". The Washington Post. Retrieved 13 February 2015.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Yenisei". Encyclopædia Britannica. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

Coordinates: 71°50′0″N 82°40′0″E / 71.83333°N 82.66667°E / 71.83333; 82.66667

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