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Construction of Soviet Union-era dams often involved enforced resettlement of huge numbers of people, as well as destruction of their historical heritage.

The largest estuary in Europe, it is the only place in Russia where pelicans, flamingos, and lotuses may be found. Its many large reservoirs provide irrigation and hydroelectric power.

The Moscow Canal, the Volga–Don Canal, and the Volga–Baltic Waterway form navigable waterways connecting Moscow to the White Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.

It is also Europe's largest river in terms of discharge and watershed.

The river flows through central Russia and into the Caspian Sea, and is widely regarded as the national river of Russia.

Subsequently, the river basin played an important role in the movements of peoples from Asia to Europe.

A powerful polity of Volga Bulgaria once flourished where the Kama joins the Volga, while Khazaria controlled the lower stretches of the river.

Khazars were replaced by Kipchaks, Kimeks and Mongols, who founded the Golden Horde in the lower reaches of the Volga.