1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dniester

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DNIESTER (Tyras and Danaster or Danastris of classical authors, Nistrul of the Rumanians, and Turla of the Turks), a river of south-eastern Europe belonging to the basin of the Black Sea. It rises on the northern slope of the Carpathian mountains in Austrian Galicia, and belongs for the first 350 m. of its course to Austrian, for the remaining 515 m. to Russian, territory. It drains an area of 29,670 sq. m., of which 16,500 sq. m. belong to Russia. It is excessively meandering, and the current in most parts even during low water is decidedly rapid as compared with Russian rivers generally, the mean rate being calculated at 17/11 m. per hour. The average width of the channel is from 500 to 750 ft., but in some places it attains as much as 1400 ft.; the depth is various and changeable. The principal interruption in the navigable portion of the river, besides a sprinkling of rocks in the bed and the somewhat extensive shallows, is occasioned by a granitic spur from the Carpathians, which gives rise to the Yampol Rapids. For ordinary river craft the passage of these rapids is rendered possible, but not free from danger, by a natural channel on the left side, and by a larger and deeper artificial channel on the right; for steamboats they form an insuperable barrier. The river falls into the sea by several arms, passing through a shallow liman or lagoon, a few miles S.W. of Odessa. There are two periodical floods,—the earlier and larger caused by the breaking up of the ice, and occurring in the latter part of February or in March; and the later due to the melting of the snows in the Carpathians, and taking place about June. The spring flood raises the level of the water 20 ft., and towards the mouth of the river submerges the gardens and vineyards of the adjacent country. In some years the general state of the water is so low that navigation is possible only for three or four weeks, while in other years it is so high that navigation continues without interruption; but in recent years considerable improvements have been effected at government expense. In consequence the traffic has increased, the Dniester tapping regions of great productiveness, especially in cereals and timber, namely, Galicia, Podolia and Bessarabia. Steamboat traffic was introduced in the lower reaches in 1840. The fisheries of the lower course and of the estuary are of considerable importance; and these, together with those of the lakes which are formed by the inundations, furnish a valuable addition to the diet of the people in the shape of carp, pike, tench, salmon, sturgeon and eels. Its tributaries are numerous, but not of individual importance, except perhaps the Sereth in Galicia.  (P. A. K.; J. T. Be.)