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Oder in the city of Wrocław, Poland.
Rędzińska Island before the construction of the Rędziński Bridge.
Polen = Poland, Deutschland = Germany, and Tschechien = Czech Republic
Native nameOdra
Physical characteristics
  locationFidlův kopec, Oderské vrchy, Nízký Jeseník, Olomouc District, Olomouc Region, Moravia, Czech Republic
  coordinates 49°36′47″N017°31′15″E / 49.61306°N 17.52083°E / 49.61306; 17.52083
  elevation634 m (2,080 ft)
Mouth Szczecin Lagoon
Baltic Sea, Poland
53°40′19″N14°31′25″E / 53.67194°N 14.52361°E / 53.67194; 14.52361 Coordinates: 53°40′19″N14°31′25″E / 53.67194°N 14.52361°E / 53.67194; 14.52361
Length840 km (520 mi)
Basin size119,074 km2 (45,975 sq mi)
  location Mouth
  average567 m3/s (20,000 cu ft/s)

The Oder ( /ˈdər/ , German: [ˈʔoːdɐ] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); Czech, Lower Sorbian and Polish : Odra; [lower-alpha 1] , Silesian : Ôdra; Upper Sorbian : Wódra) is a river in Central Europe. It is Poland's second-longest river in total length and third-longest within its borders after the Vistula and Warta. [1] The Oder rises in the Czech Republic and flows 742 kilometres (461 mi) through western Poland, later forming 187 kilometres (116 mi) of the border between Poland and Germany as part of the Oder–Neisse line. [2] The river ultimately flows into the Szczecin Lagoon north of Szczecin and then into three branches (the Dziwna, Świna and Peene) that empty into the Bay of Pomerania of the Baltic Sea.



The Oder is known by several names in different languages, but the modern ones are very similar: English and German: Oder; Czech, Polish, and Lower Sorbian : Odra, Upper Sorbian : Wódra; Kashubian : Òdra (pronounced  [ˈwɛdra] ); Medieval Latin: Od(d)era; Renaissance Latin: Viadrus (invented in 1534).

Ptolemy knew the modern Oder as the Συήβος (Suebos; Latin Suevus), a name apparently derived from the Suebi, a Germanic people. While he also refers to an outlet in the area as the Οὐιαδούα Ouiadoua (or Οὐιλδούα Ouildoua; Latin Viadua or Vildua), this was apparently the modern Wieprza, as it was said to be a third of the distance between the Suebos and Vistula. [3] [4] The name Suebos may be preserved in the modern name of the Świna river (German Swine), an outlet from the Szczecin Lagoon to the Baltic.


Oder in Wroclaw, overlooking Ostrow Tumski - Cathedral Island Wroclaw - Ostrow Tumski.jpg
Oder in Wrocław, overlooking Ostrów Tumski - Cathedral Island

The Oder is 840 kilometres (522 miles) long: 112 km (70 miles) in the Czech Republic, 726 km (451 miles) in Poland (including 187 km (116 miles) on the border between Germany and Poland) and is the third longest river located within Poland (after the Vistula and Warta), however, second longest river overall taking into account its total length, including parts in neighbouring countries. [2] It drains a basin of 119,074 square kilometres (45,975 sq mi), 106,043 km2 (40,943 sq mi) of which are in Poland (89%), [2] 7,246 km2 (2,798 sq mi) in the Czech Republic (6%), and 5,587 km2 (2,157 sq mi) in Germany (5%). Channels connect it to the Havel, Spree, Vistula system and Kłodnica. It flows through Silesian, Opole, Lower Silesian, Lubusz, and West Pomeranian voivodeships of Poland and the states of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany.

The main branch empties into the Szczecin Lagoon near Police, Poland. The Szczecin Lagoon is bordered on the north by the islands of Usedom (west) and Wolin (east). Between these two islands, there is only a narrow channel (Świna) going to the Bay of Pomerania, which forms a part of the Baltic Sea.

The largest city on the Oder is Wrocław, in Lower Silesia.

The Oder dividing Poland and Germany seen from the Polish side near Kostrzyn (Kustrin) Slup graniczny Odra.jpg
The Oder dividing Poland and Germany seen from the Polish side near Kostrzyn (Küstrin)
Estuary of the Lusatian Neisse into the Oder Oder Fluss.jpg
Estuary of the Lusatian Neisse into the Oder

The Oder is navigable over a large part of its total length, as far upstream as the town of Koźle, where the river connects to the Gliwice Canal. The upstream part of the river is canalized and permits larger barges (up to CEMT Class IV) to navigate between the industrial sites around the Wrocław area.

Further downstream the river is free-flowing, passing the towns of Eisenhüttenstadt (where the Oder–Spree Canal connects the river to the Spree in Berlin) and Frankfurt upon the Oder. Downstream of Frankfurt the river Warta forms a navigable connection with Poznań and Bydgoszcz for smaller vessels. At Hohensaaten the Oder–Havel Canal connects with the Berlin waterways again.

Near its mouth the Oder reaches the city of Szczecin, a major maritime port. The river finally reaches the Baltic Sea through the Szczecin Lagoon and the river mouth at Świnoujście. [5]


Under Germania Magna the river was known to the Romans as the Viadrus or Viadua in Classical Latin, as it was a branch of the Amber Road from the Baltic Sea to the Roman Empire. In Germanic languages, including English, it was and still is called the Oder, written in medieval Latin documents as Odera or Oddera. Most notably, it was mentioned in the Dagome iudex, which described territory of the Duchy of Poland under Duke Mieszko I in A.D. 990, as a part of duchy's western frontier.

Before Slavs settled along its banks, the Oder was an important trade route, and towns in Germania were documented along with many tribes living between the rivers Albis (Elbe), Oder, and Vistula. Centuries later, after Germanic tribes, the Bavarian Geographer (ca. 845) specified the following West Slavic peoples: Sleenzane, Dadosesani, Opolanie, Lupiglaa, and Golensizi in Silesia and Wolinians with Pyrzycans in Western Pomerania. A document of the Bishopric of Prague (1086) mentions Zlasane, Trebovyane, Poborane, and Dedositze in Silesia.

From the 13th century on, the Oder valley was central to German Ostsiedlung, making the towns on its banks German-speaking over the following centuries. [6]

The Finow Canal, first built in 1605, connects the Oder and Havel. After completion of the more straight Oder–Havel Canal in 1914, its economic relevance decreased.

The earliest important undertaking with a view to improving the waterway was initiated by Frederick the Great, who recommended diverting the river into a new and straight channel in the swampy tract known as Oderbruch near Küstrin. The work was carried out in the years 1746–53, a large tract of marshland being brought under cultivation, a considerable detour cut off and the mainstream successfully confined to a canal.

In the late 19th century, three additional alterations were made to the waterway:

The Oder in Szczecin, Poland, flows along the banks of the Old Town and the Ducal Castle WOPR, Barka i Zamek Ksiazat Pomorskich.jpg
The Oder in Szczecin, Poland, flows along the banks of the Old Town and the Ducal Castle

By the Treaty of Versailles, navigation on the Oder became subject to International Commission of the Oder. [7] Following the articles 363 and 364 of the Treaty Czechoslovakia was entitled to lease in Stettin (now Szczecin) its own section in the harbor, then called Tschechoslowakische Zone im Hafen Stettin. [8] The contract of lease between Czechoslovakia and Germany, and supervised by the United Kingdom, was signed on February 16, 1929, and would end in 2028, however, after 1945 Czechoslovakia did not regain this legal position, de facto abolished in 1938–39.

At the 1943 Tehran Conference the allies decided that the new eastern border of Germany would run along the Oder. [9] However, after World War II, the German areas east of the Oder and the Lusatian Neisse were put under Polish administration by the victorious allies at the Potsdam Conference (at the insistence of the Soviets). As a result, the so-called Oder–Neisse line formed the border between the Soviet occupation zone (from 1949 East Germany) and the areas of Germany under Polish administration. The final border between Germany and Poland was to be determined at a future peace conference. A part of the German population east of these two rivers was evacuated by the Nazis during the war or fled from the approaching Red Army. After the war, the remaining 8 million Germans were forcibly expelled from these territories by the Polish and Soviet administrations. [10] East Germany confirmed the border with Poland under Soviet pressure in the Treaty of Zgorzelec in 1950. West Germany, after a period of refusal, confirmed the inviolability of the border in 1970 in the Treaty of Warsaw. In 1990 newly reunified Germany and the Republic of Poland signed a treaty recognizing the Oder–Neisse line as their border.


Larpia, a left distributary of the Oder in Police, Poland Larpia-rzeka.jpg
Łarpia, a left distributary of the Oder in Police, Poland

Main section:

OstravaBohumínRacibórzKędzierzyn-KoźleKrapkowiceOpoleBrzegOławaJelcz-LaskowiceWrocławBrzeg DolnyŚcinawaSzlichtyngowaGłogówBytom OdrzańskiNowa SólZielona GóraKrosno OdrzańskieEisenhüttenstadtFrankfurt (Oder)SłubiceKostrzynCedyniaSchwedtVierradenGartzGryfinoSzczecinPolice

Dziwna branch (between Wolin Island and mainland Poland):

WolinKamień PomorskiDziwnów

Świna branch (between Wolin and the Usedom islands):


Szczecin Lagoon:

Nowe WarpnoUeckermünde

Peene branch (between Usedom Island and the German mainland):


Eastern tributaries

OstraviceOlzaRudaBierawkaKłodnicaCzarnkaMała PanewStobrawaWidawaJezierzycaBaryczKrzycki RówObrzycaJabłonnaPliszkaOłobokGryżynkaWarta with the NotećMyślaKurzycaStubiaRurzycaTywaPłoniaInaGowienica - Śmieszka

Western tributaries

Opava – Psina (Cyna) – Cisek – Olszówka – Stradunia – Osobłoga – Prószkowski Potok – Nysa KłodzkaOławaŚlęza – Bystrzyca – Średzka Woda – Cicha Woda – Kaczawa – Ślepca – Zimnica – Dębniak – Biała Woda – Czarna Struga – Śląska Ochla – Zimny Potok – Bóbr – Olcha – Racza – Lusatian NeisseFinowGunica

See also


  1. Czech pronunciation: [ˈodra] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ), Polish pronunciation:  [ˈɔdra] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ).

Related Research Articles

Pomerania Historical region on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea in Central Europe

Pomerania is a historical region on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea in Central Europe, split between Poland and Germany. The western part of Pomerania belongs to the German states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg, while the eastern part belongs to the West Pomeranian and Pomeranian voivodeships of Poland. Its historical border in the west is the Mecklenburg-Western Pomeranian border valley, which now constitutes the border between the Mecklenburgian and Pomeranian part of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, while it is bounded by the Vistula River in the east. The easternmost sub-regions of Pomerania are alternatively known as Pomerelia and Kashubia, which are inhabited by ethnic Kashubians.


Wolin is the name both of a Polish island in the Baltic Sea, just off the Polish coast, and a town on that island. Administratively the island belongs to the West Pomeranian Voivodeship. Wolin is separated from the island of Usedom (Uznam) by the Strait of Świna, and from mainland Pomerania by the Strait of Dziwna. The island has an area of 265 km2 (102 sq mi) and its highest point is Mount Grzywacz at 116 m above sea level. The number of inhabitants is 30,000.


The river Warta rises in central Poland and meanders greatly north-west to flow into the Oder, against the German border. About 808.2 kilometres (502.2 mi) long, it is Poland's second-longest river within its borders after the Vistula, and third-longest in total length. Its drainage basin covers 54,529 square kilometers (21,054 sq mi) and it is navigable from Kostrzyn nad Odrą to Konin, approximately half of its length. It is connected to the Vistula by the Noteć and the Bydgoszcz Canal near the city of Bydgoszcz.

Usedom Island in the southern Baltic Sea divided between Germany and Poland

Usedom is a Baltic Sea island in Pomerania, divided between Germany and Poland. It is the second largest Pomeranian island after Rügen, and the most populous island in the Baltic Sea.

Spree River in Germany and the Czech Republic

The Spree is, with a length of approximately 400 kilometres (250 mi), the main tributary of the River Havel, and at their confluence in Berlin-Spandau, is much longer than the Havel, which itself flows into the Elbe at Havelberg. The river rises in the Lusatian Highlands, that are part of the Sudetes, in the Lusatian part of Saxony, where it has three sources: the historical one called Spreeborn in the village of Spreedorf, the water-richest one in Neugersdorf, and the highest elevated one in Eibau. The Spree then flows northwards through Upper and Lower Lusatia, where it crosses the border between Saxony and Brandenburg. After passing through Cottbus, it forms the Spree Forest, a large inland delta and biosphere reserve. It then flows through Lake Schwielochsee before entering Berlin, as Müggelspree(listen ). The Spree is the main river of Berlin, Brandenburg, Lusatia, and the settlement area of the Sorbs, who call the River Sprjewja. For a very short distance close to its sources, the Spree constitutes, as Spréva, the border between Germany (Saxony), and the Czech Republic (Bohemia). The Spree's longest tributaries are Dahme and Schwarzer Schöps, other well-known tributaries are Panke and Wuhle.

Świnoujście Place in West Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

Świnoujście is a city and seaport on the Baltic Sea and Szczecin Lagoon, located in the extreme north-west of Poland. It is situated mainly on the islands of Usedom and Wolin, but also occupies smaller islands, of which the largest is Karsibór island, once part of Usedom, now separated by the Piast Canal dug in the late 19th century to facilitate ship access to Szczecin.


Noteć is a river in central Poland with a length of 391 km (243 mi) and a basin area of 17,302 km2 (6,680 sq mi). It is the largest tributary of the Warta river and lies completely within Poland.


The Świna is a river in northwest Poland, between 2 and 4 km from the German border. It flows from Szczecin Lagoon to the Baltic Sea between the islands of Uznam and Wolin. It is a part of the Oder estuary, and carries about 75% of that river's waterflow. It has a length of about 16 km. Świnoujście is a major town on the river.

Piast Canal

The Piast Canal is a ship canal that connects the Szczecin Lagoon in the estuary of the Oder river with the Baltic Sea via the Świna river. The eastern part of the Świna is bypassed by the canal, providing a more convenient south-north connection for large ships from the Baltic to reach the industrial city of Szczecin more easily.

Bay of Pomerania

The Bay of Pomerania is a basin in the southwestern Baltic Sea, off the Pomeranian shores of Poland and Germany. It stretches between the northernmost tip of the island of Rugia called Gellort northwest of Cape Arkona in the west, and the Gąski Lighthouse east of Kołobrzeg in the east. In the south, it is bounded by the islands of Usedom/Uznam and Wolin, which separate it from the Szczecin Lagoon which is flown through by the Oder River, and is connected to the bay by three straits, the Dziwna, Świna, and Peenestrom. The Bay of Greifswald with the islands of Koos and Vilm is a large sub-bay in the southwest of the Bay of Pomerania. Apart from Rugia, Usedom/Uznam, and Wolin, the islands Greifswalder Oie and Ruden also lie in the Bay of Pomerania. Maximum depth is 20 metres and salinity is about 8%. The main ports on the Bay of Pomerania are Mukran Port in Sassnitz-Mukran, the port of Świnoujście, the port of Kołobrzeg, the port of Greifswald on the mouth of the Ryck River in Greifswald-Wieck, the port of Dziwnów, and the port of Wolgast.

Szczecin Lagoon Estuary on the Polish-German border

Szczecin Lagoon, also anglicized to Stettin Lagoon, is a lagoon in the Oder estuary, shared by Germany and Poland. It is separated from the Pomeranian Bay of the Baltic Sea by the islands of Usedom and Wolin. The lagoon is subdivided into the Kleines Haff in the West and the Wielki Zalew in the East. An ambiguous historical German name was Frisches Haff, which later exclusively referred to the Vistula Lagoon.


The Dziwna is a channel of the Oder River in northwestern Poland, one of three straits connecting the Oder Lagoon with the Bay of Pomerania of the Baltic Sea. It separates the island of Wolin from the rest of the Polish mainland. The other two channels are the Świna and the Peene.

Kostrzyn nad Odrą Place in Lubusz Voivodeship, Poland

Kostrzyn nad Odrą is a town in Gorzów County, Lubusz Voivodeship in western Poland, close to the border with Germany.


Karsibór is an island in the Szczecin Lagoon, Poland, which was created by the cutting of the Piast Canal which separated it from the island of Usedom. The island was named after its largest village.

Geography of Poland

Poland is a country that extends across the North European Plain from the Sudetes and Carpathian Mountains in the south to the sandy beaches of the Baltic Sea in the north. Poland is the fifth-most populous country of the European Union and the ninth-largest country in Europe by area. The territory of Poland covers approximately 312,696 km2 (120,733 sq mi), of which 98.52% is land and 1.48% is water. The Polish coastline was estimated at 770 km (478 mi) in length. Poland's highest point is Mount Rysy, at 2,499 m (8,199 ft).

Western Pomerania

Western Pomerania, in the narrower sense also called Hither Pomerania, is the western extremity of the historic region of the Duchy, later Province of Pomerania, nowadays divided between the State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany and West Pomeranian Voivodeship in Poland.

Germany–Poland border

The Germany–Poland border, the state border between Poland and Germany, is currently the Oder–Neisse line. It has a total length of 467 km (290 mi) and has been in place since 1945. It stretches from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Czech Republic in the south.

Szczecin–Świnoujście railway

The Szczecin–Świnoujście railway is a Polish 100-kilometre long railway line, that connects Szczecin with the port in Świnoujście. The railway is part of European TEN-T route E59 from Scandinavia to Vienna, Budapest and Prague. For this reason the classification of the PLK line is also in the "first-class" category.

Medal for Oder, Neisse and Baltic Polish award

The Medal for Oder, Neisse and Baltic was a Polish commemorative medal awarded by the Polish People's Republic to commemorate those who directly participated in combat against the Nazi Germany for the liberation of Poland and the restoration of its old boundaries on the rivers the Oder, the Neisse and the coast of Baltic Sea.


  1. kontakt@naukowiec.org, naukowiec.org. "Największe rzeki w Polsce". Naukowiec.org. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Poland 2017, Statistics Poland, p. 85-86
  3. Claudius Ptolemaios: Geographike Hyphegesis, Kap. 11: Germania Magna. (altgriech./lat./engl.)
  4. Ralf Loock: Mündungen der Flüsse bestimmt. [ permanent dead link ] In: Märkische Oderzeitung, Frankfurt 2008,3 (März); Ralf Loock: Namenskrimi um Viadrus in: Märkische Oderzeitung – Journal. Frankfurt 25./26. Nov. 2006, S. 2; siehe auch Alfred Stückelberger, Gerd Graßhoff (Hrsg.): Ptolemaios – Handbuch der Geographie. Schwabe, Basel 2006, S. 223, ISBN   3-7965-2148-7
  5. NoorderSoft Waterways Database Archived November 9, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  6. e.g. Charles Higounet. Die deutsche Ostsiedlung im Mittelalter (in German). p. 175.
  7. The commission was staffed with one representative of Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom each and three representatives of Prussia, being the German state competent for the navigable section of the Oder, comprised within the latter's borders. Cf. Der Große Brockhaus: Handbuch des Wissens in zwanzig Bänden: 21 Bde., completely revised ed., Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus, 151928-1935, vol 13 (1932): Dreizehnter Band Mue–Ost, article: 'Oder', pp. 600seq., here p. 601. No ISBN.
  8. Cf. Archiwum Państwowe w Szczecinie (State Archive of Szczecin), Rep. 126, Krajowy Urząd Skarbowy w Szczecinie
  9. Allen DJ (2003) The Oder-Neisse line: the United States, Poland, and Germany in the Cold War Praeger P13
  10. Gregor Thum (2011). Uprooted: How Breslau Became Wroclaw during the Century of Expulsions. Princeton University Press. p. 56.

Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Oder". Encyclopædia Britannica . 20 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 2–3.