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The Ob River ( ), also Obi, is a major river in western Siberiamarker, Russiamarker. It is the country's fourth longest. The Ob River also has the longest estuary in the world.


The Ob is known to the Khanty people as the As, Yag, Kolta and Yema; to the Nenets people as the Kolta or Kuay; and to the Siberian Tatars as the Umar or Omar.


The Ob is formed sixteen miles southwest of Biyskmarker in Altai Kraimarker by the confluence of the Biyamarker and Katun rivers. Both these streams have their origin in the Altay Mountainsmarker, the Biya issuing from Lake Teletskoyemarker, the Katun, 80 mi long, bursting out of a glacier on Mount Byelukhamarker. The Ob zigzags west and north until it reaches 55° N, where it curves round to the northwest, and again north, wheeling finally eastwards into the Gulf of Obmarker, a long (600 mi) bay of the Kara Seamarker, which adjoins the Arctic Oceanmarker.

The river splits into more than one arm, especially after joining the large Irtyshmarker tributary at about 69° E. Originating in Chinamarker, the Irtyshmarker is actually longer than the Ob from their sources to the point of their confluence. From the source of the Irtysh to the mouth of the Ob, the river flow is the longest in Russia at 5,410 km. Other noteworthy tributaries are: from the east, the Tommarker, Chulymmarker, Ket, Tym and Vakh rivers; and, from the west and south, the Vasyugan, Irtyshmarker (with the Ishim and Tobol rivers), and Sosva river.

The combined Ob-Irtysh system, the third-longest river system of Asia (after Chinamarker's Yangtzemarker and Yellowmarker rivers), is 5,410 km (3,362 mi) long, and the area of its basin 2,990,000 km².

The river basin of the Ob consists mostly of steppe, taiga, swamps, tundra, and semi-desert topography. The floodplains of the Ob are characterized by many tributaries and lakes.

The Ob is ice-bound at southern Barnaulmarker from early in November to near the end of April, and at northern Salekhardmarker, 100 miles above its mouth, from the end of October to the beginning of June.

Ob River crosses several climatic zones. The upper Ob River, in the south, grows grapes, melons and watermelons, whereas the lower reaches of the Ob are Arctic tundra. The most comfortable climate for the rest on the Ob - are Biisk, Barnaul and Novosibirsk. Here, hot summers, beautiful spring and autumn, snowy winter.

Human use

The Ob River in Barnaul.
The Ob is used mostly for irrigation, drinking water, hydroelectric energy, and fishing; the river has more than 50 species of fish.

The navigable waters within the Ob basin reach a total length of 9300 miles.The importance of the Ob basin navigation for transportation was particularly great before the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway, since, despite the general south-to-north direction of the flow of Ob and most of its tributaries, the width of the Ob basin provided for (somewhat indirect) transportation in the east-west direction as well. Until the early 20th century, a particularly important western river port wasTyumenmarker, located on the Tyumen River, an affluent of the Tobol. Reached by an extension of the Ekaterinburgmarker-Permmarker railway in 1885, and thus obtaining a rail link to the Kama and Volga rivers in the heart of Russiamarker, Tyumen became an important railhead for some years until the railway was extended further east.In the eastern reaches of the Ob basin, Tomskmarker on the Tom Rivermarker was an important terminus.

Tyumen had its first steamboat in 1836, and the middle reaches of the Ob have been navigated by steamboats since 1845.The first steamboat on the Ob, Nikita Myasnikov's "Osnova", was launched in 1844; but the early starts were difficult, and it was not until 1857 that steamboat shipping started developing in the Ob system in the serious way. Steamboats started operating on the Yenisei in 1863, on the Lena and Amur in the 1870s.In an attempt to extend the Ob navigable system even further, a system of canalsmarker, utilizing the Ket River, 560 mi long in all, was built in the late 19th century to connect the Ob with the Yeniseimarker, but soon abandoned as being uncompetitive with the railway.

The Trans-Siberian Railway, once completed, provided for more direct, year-round transportation in the east-west direction. But the Ob river system still remained important for connecting the huge expanses of Tyumen Oblast and Tomsk Oblast with the major cities along the Trans-Siberian route, such as Novosibirskmarker or Omskmarker. In the second half of the 20th century, construction of rail links to Labytnangimarker, Tobolskmarker, and the oil and gas cities of Surgutmarker, and Nizhnevartovskmarker provided more railheads, but did not diminish the importance of the waterways for reaching places still not served by the rail.

A dam was built near Novosibirskmarker in 1956, which created the then-largest artificial lake in Siberiamarker, called Novosibirsk Reservoirmarker. High level radioactive waste from Russian weapons andpower research reactors was uncaringly dumped, untreated, straight into the Ob River. Its sediments still have deadly isotopes therein. In the early years of operation, the Mayak plant released vast quantities of radioactively contaminated water into several small lakes near the plant, and into the Techa river, whose waters ultimately flow into the Ob River
River Tura.
In the 1960s through 1980s, a gigantic project was contemplated by Soviet engineers and administrators to divert some of the waters of Ob and Irtysh to Kazakhstanmarker and Soviet Central Asian republics, replenishing the Aral Seamarker as well. The project never left the drawing board, abandoned in 1986 due to economic and environmental considerations.

Cities along the Ob

Cities along the river include:

See also: Rivers of Russia


External links

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