The Volga River forms a significant portion of the northern and eastern boundaries of the geocultural province of Slavia. It is Europe’s longest river, flowing 2200 miles (3520 km) from its beginning in the Valdai Hills to its end in the Caspian Sea. In comparison, in length the Danube is 1767 miles (2850 km); the Dnieper, 1364 miles (2200 km); and the Don, 1160 miles (1870 km). The Volga, Dnieper, and Don are all in Slavia.
The Valdai Hills form the northern section of the Central Russian Highlands. The headwaters of the Volga are located in these hills at Volgoverkhovye, 738 ft (225 m) above sea level, 264 miles (425 km) southeast of Saint Petersburg and 311 miles (502 km) northwest of Moscow.
From its headwaters, the Volga runs roughly east through Tver, Rybinsk, Yaroslavl, and Nizhny Novgorod to Kazan. The Oka River flows into the Volga at Nizhny Novgorod. The Moskva River flows into the Oka at Kolomna, 221 miles (356 km) southwest of Nizhny Novgorod. Moscow is located on the banks of the Moskva River, 64 miles (103 km) northwest of Kolomna.
161 miles (259 km) from Volgoverkhovye to Tver,
183 miles (295 km) from Tver to Rybinsk,
53 miles (86 km) from Rybinsk to Yaroslavl,
236 miles (381 km) from Yaroslavl to Nizhny Novgorod, and
246 miles (397 km) from Nizhny Novgorod to Kazan.
Subtotal for the Volga flowing east from headwaters to Kazan: 879 miles (1418 km).
From Kazan, the Volga flows roughly south through the cities of Ulyanovsk, Samara, and Saratov to Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad). At Volgograd, the Volga comes within 40 miles (64 km) of the Don River. For centuries, traders have taken advantage of this relatively short distance to transfer products from Volga to Don boats to send them through the Azov and Black seas to the Mediterranean. The Volga-Don Canal has connected the two rivers since 1952.
140 miles (226 km) from Kazan to Ulyanovsk,
147 miles (237 km) from Ulyanovsk to Samara,
261 miles (421 km) from Samara to Saratov, and
234 miles (378 km) from Saratov to Volgograd.
Subtotal for Volga flowing south from Kazan to Volgograd: 782 miles (1262 km).
From Volgograd, the Volga continues roughly southeast through Astrakhan to empty into the Caspian Sea at 92 ft (28 m) below sea level. The Volga Delta, 100 miles (161 km) in length, forms the largest estuary in Europe.
265 miles (428 km) from Volgograd to Astrakhan,
37 miles (60 km) from Astrakhan to Makovo (village in the Volga Delta),
22 linear miles (35 km) from Makovo to the Caspian Sea.
Subtotal for Volga flowing southeast from Volgograd to Caspian Sea: 324 miles (523 km).
Total: 1985 miles (3203 km) from Volgoverkhovye to the Caspian Sea.
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