Bii-Khem and Kaa-Khem near Kyzyl
The Yenisei 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-Noor, Mongolia|
|⁃ elevation||3,351 m (10,994 ft)|
|Arctic Ocean, Russia|
|Length||3,438 km (2,136 mi)|
|Basin size||2,580,000 km2 (1,000,000 sq mi)|
|⁃ average||19,600 m3/s (690,000 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, Lower Tunguska, Stony Tunguska River|
The Yenisei (Russian: ?, Jeniséj; Mongolian: , Yenisei mörön; Buryat: , Gorlog müren; Tyvan-, Ulu?-Hem; Khakas: , Kim sug) also Romanised Yenisey, Enisei, Jenisej, is the largest river system flowing to the Arctic Ocean. It is the central of the three great Siberian rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean (the other two being the Ob and the Lena). Rising in Mongolia, it follows a northerly course to the Yenisei Gulf in the Kara Sea, draining a large part of central Siberia. Yenisei is the fifth-longest river system in the world.
The maximum depth of the Yenisei 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 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 Yenisei River basin (excluding Lake Baikal and lakes of the Khantayka River 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 Yenisei River 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 Yenisei River 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 Yenisei River 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 Yenisei mouths feed into very long inlets, several hundred miles 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 Yenisei'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 Yenisei river 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 Yenisei 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 Yenisei River to the border of China and then along the border of China and the Soviet Union.
Studies have shown that the Yenisei 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.