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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 name
  • Poland
  • Czech Republic
  • Germany
Physical characteristics
  locationFidlův kopec, Oderské vrchy, Olomouc Region, 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
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/ OH-dər, German: [ˈoːdɐ] ; Czech, Lower Sorbian and Polish : Odra; [lower-alpha 1] Upper Sorbian : Wódra [ˈwʊt.ʀɑ] ) 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.


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). It is the third longest river located within Poland (after the Vistula and Warta); however, it is the second longest river overall taking into account its total length, including parts in neighbouring countries. [2]

The Oder 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.[ citation needed ]

The Oder dividing Poland and Germany seen from the Polish side near Kostrzyn nad Odra Slup graniczny Odra.jpg
The Oder dividing Poland and Germany seen from the Polish side near Kostrzyn nad Odrą
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 Poland's western frontier, however, in most sections the border ran west of the river.

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.

In the 10th century, almost the entire course of the Oder River found itself within the borders of the newly formed Polish state, with the exception of the area around the source of the river, which was under Bohemian rule. Several important cities of medieval Poland developed along the Oder, including Opole which became the capital of Upper Silesia, Wrocław which became the capital of Lower Silesia and one of the main cities of the entire Kingdom of Poland (Latin: sedes regni principales), and Lubusz (now Lebus) which became the capital of the Lubusz Land, nicknamed "the key to the Kingdom of Poland" in medieval chronicles. Wrocław and Lubusz became seats of some of the oldest Catholic bishoprics of Poland, founded in 1000 (Wrocław) and 1125 (Lubusz). Located near the mouth of the river, Szczecin became one of the main cities and ports of the Pomerania region and the entire southern coast of the Baltic Sea.

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] Over time, control over parts of the river was taken from Poland by other countries, including the Margraviate of Brandenburg and the Kingdom of Bohemia, and later also by Hungary, Sweden, Prussia and Germany.

Canals and waterway modifications

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 to modify the river to improve navigation 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 (Kostrzyn nad Odrą). 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

Conditions in the Treaty of Versailles

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 16 February 1929, and would end in 2028, however, after 1945 Czechoslovakia did not regain this legal position, de facto abolished in 1938–39.

1943 Border with Germany

At the 1943 Tehran Conference the Allies decided that the new eastern border of Germany would run along the Oder. [9] After World War II, the former German areas east of the Oder and the Lusatian Neisse passed to Poland by decision of 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 Poland. 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 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.

2022 environmental disaster

On 11 August 2022, it was discovered that the Oder river had been contaminated and at least 135 tonnes of dead fish washed up on its shores. [11] [12] [13] Water samples taken on 28 July indicated possible mesitylene contamination, although the toxin was not present in samples taken after 1 August. [14] [12]


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)SłubiceLebusKostrzynCedyniaSchwedtGartzGryfinoSzczecinPolice

Szczecin Lagoon:

Nowe WarpnoUeckermünde

east: Dziwna (German: Dievenow) branch (between Wolin Island and mainland Poland):

WolinKamień PomorskiDziwnów

middle: Świna (German: Swine) branch (between Wolin and Usedom islands):


west: Peenestrom (Peene) (Polish: Piana) branch (between Usedom Island and mainland Germany):


Eastern tributaries

OstraviceOlzaRudaBierawkaKłodnicaCzarnkaMała PanewStobrawaWidawaJezierzycaBaryczKrzycki RówObrzycaJabłonnaPliszkaOłobokGryżynkaWarta with the NotećMyślaKurzycaStubiaRurzycaTywaPłoniaInaGowienicaŚmieszka

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] , Polish pronunciation: [ˈɔdra] .

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  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 9 November 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 Archived 24 September 2020 at the Wayback Machine
  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.
  11. Auto, Hermes (11 August 2022). "Dead fish in River Oder on Poland-Germany border spur contamination probe | The Straits Times". www.straitstimes.com. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  12. 1 2 Strzelecki, Marek (11 August 2022). "Dead fish in River Oder on Polish/German border spur contamination probe". Reuters. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  13. "Ten tonnes of dead fish hauled out of polluted River Odra". www.thefirstnews.com. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  14. S.A, Telewizja Polska. "Mass death of fish in River Oder raises environmental stink". tvpworld.com. Retrieved 11 August 2022.

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