Wisla 010.jpg
The Vistula in southern Poland with Silesian Beskids seen in the background.
Vistula river map.png
Vistula River drainage basin in Ukraine, Belarus, Slovakia and Poland
Native nameWisła  (Polish)
Towns/CitiesKraków, Sandomierz, Warsaw, Płock, Włocławek, Toruń, Bydgoszcz, Gdańsk
Physical characteristics
 ⁃ locationBarania Góra, Silesian Beskids
 ⁃ coordinates49°36′21″N 19°00′13″E / 49°36′21″N 19°00′13″E / 49.60583; 19.00361
 ⁃ elevation1,106 m (3,629 ft)
 ⁃ location
Gdańsk Bay, Baltic Sea,
Przekop channel near Świbno, Poland
 ⁃ coordinates
54°21′42″N 18°57′07″E / 54°21′42″N 18°57′07″E / 54.36167; 18.951941,080 m3/s (38,000 cu ft/s)
Basin features
 ⁃ leftNida, Pilica, Bzura, Brda, Wda
 ⁃ rightDunajec, Wisłoka, San, Wieprz, Narew, Drwęca

The Vistula (ə/; Polish: Wisła [ˈviswa] (About this soundlisten); German: Weichsel [ˈvaɪksl̩]), the longest and largest river in Poland, is the 9th-longest river in Europe, at 1,047 kilometres (651 miles) in length.[1][2] The drainage-basin area of the Vistula is 193,960 km2 (74,890 sq mi), of which 168,868 km2 (65,200 sq mi) lies within Poland (54% of its land area).[3] The remainder lies in Belarus, Ukraine and Slovakia.

The Vistula rises at Barania Góra in the south of Poland, 1,220 meters (4,000 ft) above sea level in the Silesian Beskids (western part of Carpathian Mountains), where it begins with the White Little Vistula (Biała Wisełka) and the Black Little Vistula (Czarna Wisełka).[4]It flows through Poland's biggest cities, including Kraków, Sandomierz, Warsaw, Płock, Włocławek, Toruń, Bydgoszcz, Świecie, Grudziądz, Tczew and Gdańsk. It empties into the Vistula Lagoon (Zalew Wiślany) or directly into the Gdańsk Bay of the Baltic Sea with a delta and several branches (Leniwka, Przekop, Śmiała Wisła, Martwa Wisła, Nogat and Szkarpawa).


The name was first recorded by Pomponius Mela in AD 40 and by Pliny in AD 77 in his Natural History. Mela names the river Vistula (3.33), Pliny uses Vistla (4.81, 4.97, 4.100). The root of the name Vistula is Indo-European *u̯eis- 'to ooze, flow slowly' (cf. Sanskrit अवेषन् (avēṣan) 'they flowed', Old Norse veisa 'slime') and is found in many European rivernames (e.g. Weser, Viesinta).[5] The diminutive endings -ila, -ula, were used in many Indo-European languages, including Latin (see Ursula).

In writing about the Vistula River and its peoples, Ptolemy uses the Greek spelling Ouistoula. Other ancient sources spell it Istula. Ammianus Marcellinus refers to the Bisula (Book 22); note the absence of the -t-. Jordanes (Getica 5 & 17) uses Viscla, while the Anglo-Saxon poem Widsith refers to it as the Wistla.[6] 12th-century Polish chronicler Wincenty Kadłubek Latinised the rivername as Vandalus, a form presumably influenced by Lithuanian vanduõ 'water', while Jan Długosz in his Annales seu cronicae incliti regni Poloniae called the Vistula 'white waters' (Alba aqua), perhaps referring to the White Little Vistula (Biała Wisełka): "a nationibus orientalibus Polonis vicinis, ob aquae candorem Alba aqua ... nominatur."

Over the course of history the river possessed several names in different languages such as Low German: Wießel, Dutch: Wijsel, Yiddish: ווייסלYiddish pronunciation: [vajsl̩] and Russian: Висла.