A Note on Siberian Rivers

Siberia’s rivers were and are vital to the region’s development and colonization. But the region is so rich in rivers that it can be confusing to understand or remember their flow and location relative to one another. Let us then offer a geography lesson on the rivers of Central Siberia.

The Tura River—on which Tyumen is located—flows eastward into the Tobol, which in turn flows north to meet the Irtysh at Tobolsk.

The mighty Irtysh is itself only a tributary of the Ob, one of Siberia’s grandest rivers. These two rivers meet at Khanty-Mansiysk, where the Ob continues northward toward the enormously long Ob Bay, before merging with the Karskoe Sea and the Arctic Ocean.

Of course, all of this oversimplifies matters. For we have not noted the distances involved, which can stretch credulity. For example, the city of Novosibirsk, some 1,000 kilometers to the east of Tyumen and Tobolsk, is situated on the upper reaches of the Ob. The Ob flows for 3650 kilometers from the heights of the Altai mountains to the Arctic Sea; the Irtysh flows for 4248 kilometers before meeting up with the Ob and flowing together another 1162 kilometers to the Arctic.  Together, these rivers form the world’s 4th longest river system (5600 km)—the top three longest are the Nile (6695 km), the Amazon (6280), and the Mississippi/Missouri (6020 km). Surprisingly, both the Irtysh and the Ob Rivers, with their great length and diversity, have their ultimate origins in the same territory near the northwestern Mongolian border.

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