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Pärnu(pär`no͞o), Ger. Pernau, Rus. Pyarnu, city (1994 pop. 51,963), SW Estonia, on the Gulf of Riga. A seaport, it exports timber and flax and is also a beach and health resort. It was founded c.1250 by the Livonian Knights and became a city of the Hanseatic League. After the dissolution (1561) of the Livonian Order it was contested by Sweden, Russia, and Poland. Peter I of Russia took it from the Swedes in 1710, and its cession was confirmed by Sweden in 1721. Pärnu was incorporated into newly independent Estonia in 1918.
(formerly Pernau or Pernov), a city under republic jurisdiction and administrative center of Pärnu Raion, Estonian SSR. Population, 49,000 (1974). Situated on the Pärnu River at the point where the river empties into the Gulf of Riga, Pärnu is a seaport and river landing. It has a railroad station 129 km south of Tallinn.
Pärnu is a seaside climatic and mud-bath health resort. Summers are moderately warm, with an average July temperature of 17°C, and winters are fairly mild, with an average January temperature of -5°C. Annual precipitation totals 540 mm. The city’s facilities offer climatotherapy and pelotherapy with sea mud for those suffering from diseases of the circulatory, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems, the digestive tract, and reproductive organs. The city has sanatoriums, a balneopelotherapy facility, and houses of rest. There is a sandy beach and a park.
Industry is represented by fish-canning and linen-textile combines and machine-building, food-processing, and lumber enterprises. This city has a dramatic theater, a museum of local lore, a memorial museum of the poet Lydia Koidula, and a tourist center.
Pärnu has been known since 1251. A settlement on the right bank of the Pärnu River, belonging to the see of Ösel-Wiek, was called Vana-Pärnu (Old Pärnu), while Uus-Pärnu (New Pärnu) was situated on the left bank and ruled by the Livonian Order. In the 14th century, Pärnu, which by then had become a major port, joined the Hanseatic League. From the 15th to early 18th centuries it was alternately dependent upon the Livonian Order, Poland, and Sweden. In 1599 the Poles razed the old city on the right bank. In 1710, during the Northern War (1700–21), Pärnu was captured by Russian troops and made part of Russia. In the 18th century it became a district capital of the Province of Livonia, and by the end of the 19th century it had become a famous health resort of the Baltic Region. From 1918 to 1940, Pärnu was part of bourgeois Estonia. In July 1940 it was occupied by fascist German invaders; it was liberated by the Soviet Army on Sept. 23, 1944.
REFERENCEGrodinskii, F. M. Piarnu: Putevoditel’. Tallinn, 1974.
a river in the Estonian SSR. It measures 144 km long and drains an area of 6,910 sq km. It empties into Pärnu Bay of the Gulf of Riga of the Baltic Sea. The Pärnu is fed primarily by subterranean waters in its upper reaches and by rain in its lower reaches. The mean flow rate 26 km from the mouth is 48.2 cu m per sec. The Pärnu does not freeze every year, but when it does it usually freezes in mid-December, and the ice breaks up in late March. The Pärnu is navigable near its mouth. There are 11 dams and several small hydroelectric power plants on the river. Also on the river are the cities of Turi, Sindi, and Pärnu (at the mouth).
a bay in the Baltic Sea, off the Estonian SSR, in the northeastern part of the Gulf of Riga. It is 30 km long, with a width of 20 km at the entrance and depths ranging from 4 to 10 m. The shores are low-lying and sandy in places. Water temperature reaches 18°C in the summer and 0° or 1°C in the winter. Salinity varies from three to six parts per thousand. The bay is frozen from December through April. The port city of Pärnu is situated at the mouth of the Pärnu River, which empties into Pärnu Bay.