The Yenisei River (Rivers Special III)

This is Part III of the Rivers Special: Click the following for Parts I and II. Today we are moving on from the Volga, but staying in Russia for the Yenisei River.

Big Water
The Yenisei River is the fifth longest river in the world and, like the Volga, is vital to Russia's economy.  Beginning in Mongolia, the river flows through the Siberian Taiga and is the largest river to drain into the Arctic Sea.  

Vital Water
The Yenisei has proven a vital source of hydroelectric power.  Numerous dams have been built along the river and its tributaries, including Russia's largest - the Sayano–Shushenskaya Dam.  Another dam along the Yenisei, Krasnoyarskaya, is Russia's second largest.  Large mines along the region extract gold, nickel, aluminum, copper, and platinum.  The region contains large areas of timber, oil, and the nation's largest stocks of coal.  Citizens not involved in these industries can make a living in the fishing industry or in agricultural production. It is no wonder the Yenisei is sometimes called the "river of life."  Of course a variety of wildlife also depend on the river, including the Taymyr (Taimyr) reindeer herd - the largest in the world. If a different version of history had played out, the Yenisei would have also served another purpose...

The Axis Divide
Most geographers accept the Ural Mountains as the principal division between Europe and Asia, but during World War II, Japan and Germany, with aspirations for conquering all of Russia, settled on a new dividing line. If the Axis Powers had their way, Germany's Europe and Japan's Asia would have been divided along Russia's Ob or Yenisei Rivers.  

Thanks for reading!

If you click no other link on this article, click this one.  The Atlantic created a yearlong photo journal about the Yenisei and the people that live along its waters.'s photos are also great.

Ilya Naymushin, reporting for Reuters, wrote this article on the importance of the Yenisei.

Thomas Nilsen, the editor of The Independent Barents Observer, photographed and authored an article about Dikson, the northernmost town along the Yenisei.

For more on Russia from this site, check out our Aral Sea article.

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