The Nemunas, Nioman, Neman or Memel
[To bankside nations of the present: Lithuanian: '; be|Нёман, , ; russian: Неман, ''Neman''; past: ger|Memel (where touching Prussia only, otherwise Nieman); lv|Nemuna; et|Neemen; pl|Niemen; uk|Німан, ''Niman'']
is a river in Europe
that rises in central Belarus
and flows through Lithuania
then along the northern border
of Kaliningrad Oblast
's western exclave
which specifically then takes its southern mouth. It drains into its Curonian Lagoon
, narrowly connected to the Baltic Sea
. It flows about , so it is considered a major Eastern Europe
. It flows generally west (to come at Grodno
within of Poland), north, then westward.
The largest river in Lithuania, and the third-largest in Belarus, it is navigable for most of its length. It starts from two small headwaters merging about southwest of the town of Uzda
– about southwest of capital city Minsk
. Only , a eastward meander, contributes to the Belarus–Lithuania border
. Thereafter the river includes notable loops along a minor tectonic fault.
Its drainage basin
settled in the late Quaternary
to be roughly along the edge of the last glacial
sheet so dates to about 25,000 to 22,000 years BC. Its depth varies from in its upper courses to in the lower basin.
* The total length of the Nioman/Nemunas/Neman is .
It is the 4th longest river in the Baltic Sea
basin. Over its entire length, flows in Belarus
and in Lithuania. A stretch is the border between Lithuania
's Kaliningrad oblast
* Its greatest depth is , and at its widest it extends about .
* The Nioman/Nemunas/Neman is a slow river; it flows at about .
* During floods, water discharge can increase up to 11-fold, to more than . Severe floods occur on the lower reaches of the river about every 12 – 15 years, which sometimes wash out bridges.
* The Nioman/Nemunas/Neman is an old river, dating back to the last glacial period
. Its valley is now up to deep and broad.
* It has about 105 first-class tributaries
, the largest being the rivers Neris
(Viliya) (), Shchara
(), and Šešupė
(). Fifteen of the tributaries
are longer than .
* In the complete Nioman/Nemunas/Neman basin, there are tributaries extending to the 11th order.
* The Nemunas basin in Lithuania drains more than 20,000 rivers and rivulet
s and covers 72% of Lithuania's territory.
* The total area of the Nioman/Nemunas/Neman basin is ,
of which are within Belarus,
the Lithuanian portion of this basin is 46,.
* Valley of Neman in Grodno Region
is the lowest point above sea level in Belarus at .
banknote featuring Nemunas loops
Since the loops are in Lithuania, they are often referred to as "The Nemunas loops".
In 1992 Nemunas Loops Regional Park
was founded. Its goal is to preserve the loops (Lithuanian: ''vingis'') that the river makes in the Punia
forest. Near Prienai
, the Nemunas makes a loop (like a teardrop) coming within of completing the loop. The Nemunas flows along the double bend between Balbieriškis
for and then moves in a northerly direction for only . The loops are not conventional river meander
s; they follow underlying tectonic
structures. The fault
s are the source of local mineral springs. The area is historically and culturally significant. Its castles served as the first line of defense against forays by the Teutonic knights
At its delta
the Nemunas splits into a maze of river branches and canals mixing with polder
s and wetlands
and is a very attractive destination for eco-tourism
. The four main distributaries
are Atmata, Pakalnė, Skirvytė (the southern mouth, marking the international border) and Gilija. The river plays a crucial part in the ecosystem of the Curonian Lagoon
. It provides the main water inflow to the lagoon and keeps the water almost fresh. This allows fresh water and brackish water
animals to survive there. As the delta extends north the lagoon opposite narrows. Since the delta is in Lithuania, it is often referred to as ''Nemunas Delta''. Nemunas Delta Regional Park
was created in the delta in 1992.
The following rivers are tributaries to the river Neman/Nemunas (from source to mouth):
, Czarna Hańcza
*Right: Western Berezina
Largest settlements on the river
From west to east, the largest settlements are Sovetsk/Tilsit
, and Masty
Significance in culture
referred to Nemunas as Chronos (although competing theories suppose Chronos was in fact Pregolya
The river has lent its name to the Neman Culture
, a Neolithic
, the part of the river flowing in what for a time was Prussia has been called ' at least since about 1250, when Teutonic Knights
built ' castle and the town of ' at the mouth of the Curonian Lagoon, naming it after the indigenous name of the river, Memel. The city of Memel, now in Lithuania, is known today as Klaipėda
(confusingly, another city of Memel was on the Dange River, now called the Danė
). In German road maps and lexika, only the section within Prussia (starting at Schmalleningken
) was named Memel; the bulk of the river was the Niemen.
The border between the State of the Teutonic Order
and Lithuania was fixed in 1422 by the Treaty of Lake Melno
and remained stable for centuries. The Treaty of Tilsit
and Tsar Alexander I
was signed on a raft in the river in 1807. Napoleon's crossing at the outset of the 1812 French invasion of Russia
is described in ''War and Peace
'' and also mentioned in ''Pan Tadeusz
''. In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles
made the river the border separating the Memel Territory
from German East Prussia
as of 1920. At that time, Germany's Weimar Republic
adopted the ' as its official national anthem
. In the first stanza of the song, written in 1841, the river is mentioned as the eastern border of a (then politically yet-to-be united) Germany
Lithuanians refer to the Nemunas as "the father of rivers" (''Nemunas'' is a masculine noun in Lithuania). Countless companies and organizations in Lithuania have "Nemunas" in their name, including a folklore
ensemble, a weekly magazine about art and culture, a sanatorium
, and numerous guest houses and hotels. Lithuanian and Polish literature often mention the Nemunas. One of the most famous poems by Maironis
Almost every Lithuanian can recite these words by heart.
Smaller rivers and rivulets in Lithuania with names morphologically derived
are the Nemunykštis, Nemuniukas, Nemunynas, Nemunėlis and Nemunaitis.
is disputed: some say that "Nemunas" is an old word meaning "a damp place", while others that it is "mute, soundless river" (from ''nemti, nėmti'' "to become silent", also ''memelis, mimelis, mėmė'' "slow, worthless person"). The name is possibly derived from the Finnic word ''niemi'' "cape".
Art critics praised its depiction in the paintings by Michał Kulesza
200px|Schematic map of Kaunas Reservoir area
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
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 Belarus
ian 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.
was built in 1959 to serve the Kaunas Hydroelectric Power Plant
. The resulting Kaunas Reservoir
( lt|Kauno marios) is the largest such lake in Lithuania. It occupies ; its length is ; its greatest depth is . The reservoir is a popular destination for Lithuanian yacht
The Augustów Canal
, built in the 19th century, connects the Neman to the Vistula River
Fish found include the: perch
, and bleak
Its tributaries have borne stone loach
, three-spined stickleback
migrated upstream to spawn; however, dams on the river, most of them built in the 20th century, have depleted them. The dam at Kaunas does not provide fish ladders
. The spawning season took place in the fall. Ethnographic studies, from before the dams, state night fishing, using torches and harpoon
s, was a common technique.
A report by the Swedish EPA
(Environmental Protection Administration) rates the river's quality in Lithuania as moderately polluted to polluted. High concentrations of organic pollutants, nitrate
s and phosphate
s occur in parts of the river. Environmental issues include water quality (eutrophication
and pollutants largely due to outdated technology sewage treatment works), changes in the hydrological regime, and flooding control. The environmental problems in each of the countries that make up the basin are slightly different. In Belarus, the main problems are oil products as well as nitrogen and BOD
(biological oxygen demand). The environmental issues in the Kaliningrad section include high concentrations of BOD, lignosulphates, and nitrogen
. In Lithuania, the Kaunas Hydroelectric Power Plant
barrage affects the riparian ecosystem
.Report on the Neman basin issued by the Swedish EPA
Co-operation which would be beneficial is complicated by the geographical split between three nations but water quality improvement initiatives are underway.
* List of rivers of Europe
* Normandie-Niemen (a fighter squadron, later regiment (of three squadrons) of the French Air Force)
* East Prussia
(the Neman) in the Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland (1886)
Glaciation in Lithuania
Biotopes in the Neman and its tributaries
Atlantic salmon in the Neman River
*Agata Lewandowski, Łosośna - the Unknown Valley. Not the Last Arrival for…Puciłki, „Znad Wilii”, nr 3(79) z 2019 r., p. 58-64, (in Polish)http://www.znadwiliiwilno.lt/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Znad-Wilii-3-79m-1.pdf
*Helena i Leonard Drożdżewiczowie, Antologia Doliny Łosośny, (in Polish)http://184.108.40.206/search/query?term_1=Antologia+Doliny+%C5%81oso%C5%9Bny&theme=nukat
Category:Rivers of Grodno Region
Category:Rivers of Minsk Region
Category:Rivers of Lithuania
Category:Rivers of Kaliningrad Oblast
Category:International rivers of Europe
Category:Rivers of Belarus