Dnieper (Russ. and Pol. Dniepr; anc. Bo-rysthenes, also Danapris), next to the Volga the largest river of Russia in Europe. It rises on the S. slope of the Volkonsky plateau, near Dnieprovo in the government of Smolensk, flows S. between woody marshes as far as Dorogobush, thence mainly W. between more elevated banks past Smolensk to Orsha, there turns S., passes through the valleys and plains of the government of Mobilev down to Kiev, then turns S. E. through the steppes of the Ukraine, passes by Krementchug and Yekate-rinoslav, flows S. as far as Alexandrovsk, then S. W. to its mouth below Kherson, emptying into the Black sea between the fortresses of Kinburn and Otchakov. Its whole course is about 1,200 m. Its chief tributaries are, on the west, the Beresina, the Pripet, which discharges into it the waters of the Lithuanian marshes, and the Inguletz; on the east, the Desna, Sozh, and Vorskla. The Dnieper was formerly hardly navigable, owing to natural obstructions in its lower course and at the mouth. Some of these have been removed by the Russian government, but its commercial importance is still lessened by its frequent shallowness.
About lat. 48° 20' it commences a course of more than 40 m. over a rugged bed of granite, forming below Yekaterinoslav a number of cataracts and rapids, and separates into a great number of courses, embracing many woody islands. Reuniting, it becomes navigable in its lower course fur flat-bottomed vessels, among which steamboats have been employed since 1838 in carrying the produce of the interior, timber, corn, linen, iron, and coal, to the Black sea. The Beresina, Oginski, and Royal canals, connecting tributaries of the Dnieper with the Duna, Nie-men, and Bug, form communications through these rivers between the Baltic and Black seas. The estuary or frith (Russ. liman) formed by the mouths of the Dnieper and by that of the Bog is very shallow, and emits noxious exhalations in summer. The Dnieper abounds in sturgeon, carp, pike, and shad. In its course it passes through the most fertile provinces of Russia, and through different climates. At Smolensk it is ice-bound from November to April, and at Kiev from January to March. The most remarkable bridges are in these two cities. At the latter is a magnificent suspension bridge half a mile long, completed in 1852. On the Kiev side is a drawbridge, with an opening 50 ft. wide.
The ancients regarded the Borysthenes as the largest river of the world next to the Nile, and entertained an exaggerated opinion of the fertility of the surrounding country. They knew only its lower course. Near its mouth was Olbia, or Olbi-opolis, a colony of Miletus, which carried on trade with the nomadic tribes of the interior.