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Oka River: Map


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Map of the Volga watershed with the Oka highlighted
Oka ( ) is a river in central Russiamarker, the largest right tributary of the Volga. It flows through the regions of Oryol, Tula, Kalugamarker, Moscowmarker, Ryazan, Vladimir and Nizhny Novgorod and is navigable over a large part of its total length, as far upstream as to the town of Kalugamarker. Its length exceeds 1500 km (932 miles). The Russian capital Moscowmarker sits on one of the Oka's tributaries—the Moskva River.

Name and history

Max Vasmer connects the name of the river to the Gothic аƕа, Old High German aha, Latin aqua, which all mean either "water" or "river" (cf. Aa River). Oleg Trubachev traces the origin of the name to the Baltic languages: it was the Baltic tribe of Galindians that lived in the western part of the Oka basin prior to the arrival of the Slavs.

Historically, the river gave its name to the Upper Oka Principalities, situated upstream from Tarusamarker. One of the largest Russian cities, Nizhny Novgorodmarker, was founded to protect the Oka's confluence with the Volga. The Qasim Khanate, a Muslim polity, occupied the lower reaches of the Oka in the 15th and 16th centuries.


The banks of the river are dotted with historical and cultural sites, including the medieval monasteries of Murommarker, the mosques and minarets of Kasimovmarker, the fortified kremlins of Kolomnamarker and Serpukhovmarker, the memorial houses of Vasily Polenov and Sergey Yesenin, the excavated ruins of Old Ryazan, and the Oka Shukhov Tower.

The Prioksko-Terrasny Biosphere Reservemarker lies along the left bank of the river opposite the town of Pushchinomarker and is known for its wisent breeding nursery.

Main tributaries

Cities and towns on the Oka


  1. Vasmer's Etymological Dictionary, trans. by Oleg Trubachev, vol. 3, p. 127.

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