River, north-central Europe. It rises in Russia's Valdai Hills and flows 632 mi (1,020 km) in a great arc south through Russia and into Belarus and then northwest across Latvia. It discharges into the Gulf of Riga on the Baltic Sea. An important water route since early times, connected in its upper reaches by easy portages to the Dnieper, Volga, and Lovat-Volkhov river systems, it constituted part of the great trade route from the Baltic region to Byzantium and to the Arabic east. Rapids and the presence of dams have restricted navigation on it.
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