Riga, Gulf of


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Riga, Gulf of,

eastern arm of the Baltic Sea, bordering on Estonia and on Latvia. At its mouth it is nearly closed off by the Estonian island of Saaremaa. The gulf, which is frozen from December to April, receives the Western Dvina (Daugava) River. Riga and Pärnu are the chief ports.

Riga, Gulf of

 

a gulf of the Baltic Sea off the coast of the Estonian and Latvian SSR’s. Extending inland for 174 km, the gulf has an area of 18,100 sq km. It is separated from the open sea by the Moonsund (West Estonian) Islands, and it is connected with the sea through the Irbe Strait and the Suur, Väike, Muhu, and Soela sounds. The gulf has a maximum depth of 62 m. Among the larger islands in the gulf are Ruhnu and Kihnu. Most of the coast is low-lying and sandy. The Zapadnaia Dvina (Daugava), Lielupe, and Gauja rivers empty into the gulf.

The water temperature reaches 18°C in summer and averages 0-1 °C in winter. The salinity is 3.5-6 parts per thousand. There are inertia currents with an average velocity of 8 cm per sec. The gulf freezes over from December through April. The largest port on the gulf is Riga, at the mouth of the Zapadnaia Dvina. Other important cities include the resort of Jūrmala on the southern coast, the port of Pärnu on the northern coast, and Kingisepp on Saaremaa Island.