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Ilmen(ĭl`mən), shallow lake, varying in size from c.300 to c.800 sq mi (780–2,070 sq km), NW European Russia. It empties through the Volkhov River into Lake Ladoga. Novgorod and Staraya Russa are nearby.
a lake in Novgorod Oblast, RSFSR. It is situated in the most depressed area of the Priil’men Lowlands. Elevation, approximately 18 m; area (at median levels), 982 sq km; length, approximately 45 km; maximum width, 35 km. The shores, particularly the eastern ones, are low and swampy. Ridges that alternate with depressions stretch out along the northwestern shore (Poozer’e). The shores in the southwest are composed of limestone and are precipitous. Parts of the coastline are formed from river deltas with a large number of flat tidal islands and channels.
Among the nearly 50 rivers that flow into Lake Il’men’, the largest are the Msta, the Pola, the Lovat’ (with the Polist’), the Psizha, and the Shelon’. The Volkhov River flows out of the lake. Lake Il’men’ is fed primarily by flow from rivers during spring high-water and winter low-water periods. The highest water levels occur in May, and the lowest occur in late March and early April. During the year the water level fluctuates between 2.35 m and 5.8 m (with a maximum of 7.4 m). During low-level periods the waters of Lake Il’men’ are raised by the dam of Volkhov Hydroelectric Power Plant. Depths range from 3 to 4 m in coastal areas and from 6 to 10 m in central areas. The floor of the lake is flat. Many organic substances are found in the lake, and the water is yellow in color. Lake Il’men’ freezes in November and thaws in April. Fish are abundant; bream, smelt, burbot, and pike are found in the lake.
Between the ninth and 12th centuries Lake Il’men’ was part of the route “from the Varangians to the Greeks,” as well as to the Volga. In the late 18th century and early 19th the Siversov Canal and later the Vishersk Canal were built in order to bypass Il’men’. The lake is navigable; there is transport between Novgorod and Staraia Russa (through the Lovat’ and Polist’) and also to the mouth of the Shelon’ at Shimsk. Novgorod, one of the oldest Russian cities, is located on the shores of the Volkhov River, 6 km from Lake Il’men’. The most northern group of Eastern Slavs is referred to as the Il’men’ Slavs.
K. G. TIKHOTSKII