The Neva River, which has its source in Lake Ladoga, is 72 km long and empties into the Gulf of Finland. The river’s name is derived from the Finnish word nevo, for “swampy”; it is a suitable description of the river estuary. The Neva, which was first claimed by the principality of Novgorod during the ninth century, has always been a bone of contention between Sweden and Russia. Peter the Great secured Russia’s claim by defeating the Swedes in the Northern War (1700-1721). To strengthen his claims and the victory he founded his new capital, St. Petersburg, on the river estuary.
The Neva is an important river that was built along more than 42 islands, and which has been divided up by a system of waterways and tributaries. Apart from Lake Ladoga the Neva also supplies St. Petersburg with drinking water. But like many other rivers that flow through capital cities, the Neva has lately become very polluted and the supply of clean water has become a growing problem. The journey by ship from St. Petersburg to Lake Ladoga passes through beautiful landscapes. The raised riverbank (between 3 and 9 m) is very impressive, as is the width of the river (between 250 and 1,300). On the 23 km stretch within the boundaries of St. Petersburg, the suburbs and villages lie on the banks of the river. The farther one goes from St. Petersburg the more natural the scenery becomes.
The water is between 8 and 24 m deep and the average velocity of flow is 4 km/hour.
Because of the proximity to the Baltic Sea the climate is damp and wet. In midsummer temperatures can rise to 30 degrees C.