Bii-Khem and Kaa-Khem near Kyzyl
The Yenisey basin, including Lake Baikal
|Etymology||from either Old Kyrgyz - (Ene-Sai, "mother river") or Evenki ? (Ion?ssi, "big water")|
|Region||Tuva, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Khakassia, Irkutsk Oblast, Buryatia, Zabaykalsky Krai|
|Cities||Kyzyl, Shagonar, Sayanogorsk, Abakan, Divnogorsk, Krasnoyarsk, Yeniseysk, Lesosibirsk, Igarka, Dudinka|
|• location||ridge Dod-Taygasyn-Noroo, Mongolia|
|• elevation||3,351 m (10,994 ft)|
|2nd source||The most distant source: Yenisey-Angara-Selenga-Ider system|
|• location||Khangai Mountains|
|• elevation||2,850 m (9,350 ft)|
|Arctic Ocean, Russia|
|Length||3,487 km (2,167 mi)|
|Basin size||2,580,000 km2 (1,000,000 sq mi)|
|• average||18,050 m3/s (637,000 cu ft/s)|
|• minimum||3,120 m3/s (110,000 cu ft/s)|
|• maximum||112,000 m3/s (4,000,000 cu ft/s)|
|• right||Angara, Podkamennaya Tunguska, Nizhnyaya Tunguska|
The Yenisey (Russian: ?, Yeniséy; Mongolian: , Yenisei mörön; Buryat: , Gorlog müren; Tyvan-, Ulu?-Hem; Khakas: , Kim su?), also romanised as Yenisei, Enisei, or Jenisej, is the fifth-longest river system in the world, and the largest to drain into the Arctic Ocean. Rising in Mungaragiyn-gol in Mongolia, it follows a northerly course before draining into the Yenisey Gulf in the Kara Sea. The Yenisey divides the Western Siberian Plain in the west from the Central Siberian Plateau to the east; it drains a large part of central Siberia.
The maximum depth of the Yenisey is 24 metres (80 ft) and the average depth is 14 metres (45 ft). The depth of river outflow is 32 metres (106 ft) and inflow is 31 metres (101 ft).[clarification needed]
The Yenisey proper, from the confluence of its source rivers Great Yenisey and Little Yenisey at Kyzyl to its mouth in the Kara Sea, is 3,487 kilometres (2,167 mi) long. From the source of its tributary Selenga, it is 5,075 kilometres (3,153 mi) long. It has a drainage basin of 2,580,000 square kilometres (1,000,000 sq mi). The Yenisey flows through the Russian federal subjects Tuva, Khakassia and Krasnoyarsk Krai. The city of Krasnoyarsk is situated on the Yenisey.
The 320-kilometre (200 mi), partly navigable Upper Angara River feeds into the northern end of Lake Baikal from the Buryat Republic but the largest inflow is from the Selenga which forms a delta on the southeastern side.
The Yenisey basin (excluding Lake Baikal and lakes of the Khantayka headwaters) is home to 55 native fish species, including two endemics: Gobio sibiricus (a gobionine cyprinid) and Thymallus nigrescens (a grayling). The grayling is restricted to Khövsgöl Nuur and its tributaries. Most fish found in the Yenisey basin are relatively widespread Euro-Siberian or Siberian species, such as northern pike (Esox lucius), common roach (Rutilus rutilus), common dace (Leuciscus leuciscus), Siberian sculpin (Cottus poecilopus), European perch (Perca fluviatilis) and Prussian carp (Carassius gibelio). The basin is also home to many salmonids (trout, whitefish, charr, graylings, taimen and relatives) and the Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii).
The Yenisey valley is habitat for numerous flora and fauna, with Siberian pine and Siberian larch being notable tree species. In prehistoric times Scots pine, Pinus sylvestris, was abundant in the Yenisey valley circa 6000 BC. There are also numerous bird species present in the watershed, including, for example, the hooded crow, Corvus cornix.
River steamers first came to the Yenesei River in 1864 and were brought in from Holland and England across the icy Kara Sea. One was the SS Nikolai. The SS Thames attempted to explore the river, overwintered in 1876, but was damaged in the ice and eventually wrecked in the river. Success came with the steamers Frazer, Express in 1878, and the next year, Moscow hauling supplies in and wheat out. The Dalman reached Yeneisisk in 1881.
Imperial Russia placed river steamers on the massive river in an attempt to free up communication with land-locked Siberia. One boat was the SS St. Nicholas which took the future Tsar Nicholas II on his voyage to Siberia, and later conveyed Vladimir Lenin to prison.
Engineers attempted to place river steamers on regular service on the river during the building of the Trans-Siberian Railway. The boats were needed to bring in the rails, engines and supplies. Captain Joseph Wiggins sailed the Orestes with rail and parted out river steamers in 1893. However, the sea and river route proved very difficult with several ships lost at sea and on the river. Both the Ob and Yenisey mouths feed into very long inlets, several hundred kilometres in length, which are shallow, ice bound and prone to high winds and thus treacherous for navigation. After the completion of the railway, river traffic reduced only to local service as the Arctic route and long river proved much too indirect a route.
The first recreation team to navigate the Yenisey's entire length, including its violent upper tributary in Mongolia, was an Australian-Canadian effort completed in September 2001. Ben Kozel, Tim Cope, Colin Angus and Remy Quinter were on this team. Both Kozel and Angus wrote books detailing this expedition, and a documentary was produced for National Geographic Television.
Nomadic tribes such as the Ket people and the Yugh people have lived along the banks of the Yenisey since ancient times, and this region is the location of the Yeniseian language family. The Ket, numbering about 1000, are the only survivors today of those who originally lived throughout central southern Siberia near the river banks. Their extinct relatives included the Kotts, Assans, Arins, Baikots and Pumpokols who lived further upriver to the south. The modern Ket lived in the eastern middle areas of the river before being assimilated politically into Russia during the 17th through 19th centuries.
Some of the earliest known evidence of Turkic origins was found in the Yenisey Valley in the form of stelae, stone monoliths and memorial tablets dating from between the 7th and 9th centuries AD, along with some documents that were found in China's Xinjiang region. The written evidence gathered from these sources tells of battles fought between the Turks and the Chinese and other legends. There are also examples of Uyghur poetry, though most have survived only in Chinese translation.
During World War II, Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire agreed to divide Asia along a line that followed the Yenisey to the border of China and then along the border of China and the Soviet Union.
Studies have shown that the Yenisey suffers from contamination caused by radioactive discharges from a factory that produced bomb-grade plutonium in the secret city of Krasnoyarsk-26, now known as Zheleznogorsk.