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The Dniester ( translit. Dnister; ) is a river in Eastern Europe.


The Dniester rises in Ukrainemarker, near the city of Drohobychmarker, close to the border with Polandmarker, and flows toward the Black Seamarker. Its course marks part of the border of Ukraine and Moldovamarker, after which it flows through Moldova for , separating the bulk of Moldova's territory from Transnistriamarker. It later forms an additional part of the Moldova-Ukraine border, then flows through Ukraine to the Black Sea, where its estuary forms the Dniester Limanmarker.

Along the lower half of the Dniester, the western bank is high and hilly while the eastern one is low and flat. The river represents the de facto end of the Eurasian Steppe. Its most important tributaries are Răut and Bîcmarker.


During the prehistoric Neolithic Era, the Dniester River was the center of one of the most advanced civilizations on earth at the time. The Cucuteni-Trypillian culture fluourished in this area from roughly 5300 to 2600 B.C., leaving behind thousands of archeological sites of settlements of up to 15,000 inhabitants, making them some of the first farming communities in history.

In antiquity, the river was considered one of the principal rivers of European Sarmatia, and it was mentioned by many Classical geographers and historians. According to Herodotus (iv. 51) it rose in a large lake, whilst Ptolemy (iii. 5. § 17, 8. § 1, &c.) places its sources in Mount Carpates (the modern Carpathian Mountainsmarker, and Strabo (ii.) says that they are unknown. It ran in an easterly direction parallel with the Ister (lower Danube), and formed part of the boundary between Dacia and Sarmatia. It fell into the Pontus Euxinusmarker to the northeast of the mouth of the Ister; the distance between them being, according to Strabo, 900 stadia (Strab. vii.), and, according to Pliny (iv. 12. s. 26), (from the Pseudostoma). Scymnus (Fr. 51) describes it as of easy navigation, and abounding in fish. Ovid (ex Pont. iv. 10. 50) speaks of its rapid course.

Greek authors referred to the river as Tyras ( , Strab. ii.). At a later period it obtained the name of Danastris or Danastus (Amm. Marc. xxxi. 3. § 3; Jornand. Get. 5; Const. Porphyr. de Adm. Imp. 8), whence its modern name of Dniester (Neister), though the Turks still called it Tural during the 19th century. (Cf. Herod. iv. 11, 47, 82; Scylax, p. 29; Strab. i. p. 14; Mela, ii. 1, etc.; also Schaffarik, Slav. Alterth. i. p. 505.) The form is sometimes found. (Steph. B. p. 671; Suid. s. v. and .)

Between the World Wars, the Dniester formed part of the boundary between Romaniamarker and the Soviet Unionmarker. During World War II, German and Romanian forces battled Soviet troops on the western bank of the river.

After the Republic of Moldovamarker declared its independence in 1991, the small area to the east of the Dniester that had been part of the Moldavian SSR refused to participate and declared itself the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republicmarker, or Transnistria, with its capital at Tiraspolmarker on the river.


The Stryi River is one of the Dniester's tributaries. Tributaries on the east side are the Răut River, the Ikel River, the Bîc Rivermarker, and the Botna River. Tributaries on the west side are Zolota Lypa Rivermarker ( ), Koropets River, Dzhuryn River, Seret River ( ), Zbruch Rivermarker ( ), Smotrych River ( ), Ushytsia River ( ), Kalius River, Liadova River, Murafa River ( ), Rusava River, Yahorlyk River ( ), and the Kuchurhan River ( ).


The name Dniester derives from Sarmatian *Dānu nazdya "the close river." (By contrast, the Dnieper River derives from the same Sarmatian Iranic, "the river on the far side.") The older name, Tyras, is from Scythian *tūra, meaning "rapid."

In Russian, it is known as Днестр, translit. Dnestr, in Romanian Nistru, in Yiddish: Nester - נעסטער; in Turkish, Turla and during antiquity, it was called Tyras in Latin and Danastris in Greek. Classical authors have also referred to it as Danaster.


  1. Trypillya Culture Proto-Cities: History of Discovery and Investigations © M. Yu. Videiko Published: Відейко М. Ю. Трипільські протоміста. Історія досліджень. Київ, 2002; с.103-125: (Videiko M. Yu. Trypillya culture proto-cities. History of investigations. Kiev,2002, p.103-125)
  2. Encyclopedia of Ukraine - Dniester River
  3. Mallory, J.P. and Victor H. Mair. The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples from the West. London: Thames & Hudson, 2000. p. 106

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