Dniester River


[nee-ster; Russ. dnyestr]

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


It rises in Ukraine, near Drohobych close to the border with Poland, and flows toward the Black Sea. For a short while it marks the border of Ukraine and Moldova, after which it flows through Moldova for , separating the bulk of its territory from Transnistria. 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 Liman.

In its lower half, the western bank is high and hilly while the eastern one is low and flat. The river represents the de facto end of the Asian Steppe. Its most important tributaries are Răut and Bîc.


In antiquity, the river was considered one of the principal rivers of European Sarmatia, and 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 Mountains, 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 Euxinus 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 ({{lang-gr|ό Τύρας}, 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 Τύρις is sometimes found. (Steph. B. p. 671; Suid. s. v. Σκύφαι and Ποσειδώνιος.)

Between the World Wars, the Dniester formed part of the boundary between Romania and the Soviet Union. During the second, battles were fought on the left bank of the river between German and Romanian forces against Soviet troops.

After the Republic of Moldova 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 Republic or Transnistria, with its capital at Tiraspol on the river.


The Stryi River is one of its tributaries. Tributaries on the right side are the Reut River, the Ikel River, the Byk River, and the Botna River. Tributaries on the left side are Zolota Lypa River Koropets River, Dzhuryn River, Seret River Zbruch River Smotrych River Ushytsia River Kalius River, Liadova River, Murafa River Rusava River, Yahorlyk River and the Kuchurhan River ().


The name Dniester derives from Sarmatian Iranic *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 Iranic *tûra, 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.


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