The southern coast of Ukraine is bordered by the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
The Black Sea has a surface area of 423,000 sq km. There are only a few islands in it. Its depth is 2,000 m. In the northwest, however, the sea is only 30-60 m deep. The important ports of Odesa, Kherson, Mykolayiv and Sevastopol lie on the Black Sea. The animal life is limited. Among the best known fish are sturgeon, goby, mullet, plaice and such typically Black Sea fish as horse mackerel and scomber.
The Sea of Azov is much less picturesque. Syvash Bay with bitter and very salty waters forms part of the sea. There are wonderful sandy beaches on its northern coast and it is very rich in fish life. It is a small sea, and is the world's most shallow sea, its average depth being 5-7 m.
Rivers are the principle part of Ukraine's water resources. Ukraine has a wealth of rivers. More than a hundred of them are longer than 100 km. The largest rivers are the Dnieper, Dnister, Danube, Southern Buh, Siversky Donets and Tysa. Ukraine's rivers on the whole belong to the basins of the Black and Azov Seas. Only the Western Buh and some other rivers empty into the Baltic Sea.
Ukraine's rivers are predominantly flat. They flow slowly in wide valleys. Rivers flowing off the Carpathian and Crimean Mountains are narrow, shallow and fast. In some of the southern regions there are almost no rivers.
Rivers and other water resources (reservoires, lakes, ponds) play an important role in water supply, and are used as sources of energy. Navigable rivers are important for transport.
The Dnieper River has its source in the Valdai Plateau in Smolensk region and flows into the Black Sea. It is 2,285 km long. In size it is Europe's third-largest river (after the Volga and Danube). The Dnieper's largest tributaries are the Prypiat and Desna.
Another large river is the Dnister, which flows along the border of Ukraine and Moldova having its source in the Carpathians and emptying into the Black Sea. It floods not only in spring, but also in summer after heavy rainfalls. Its largest tributaries are the Stry and Zbruch.
The Danube passes through Ukraine in its lower reaches. It is an important water route linking the country with many European countries. The largest of the Danube's tributaries are the Tysa and Prut.
There are over 3,000 lakes throughout Ukraine. They are located mostly in Polissia, the Black Sea lowlands and the Crimea. The largest freshwater lakes are Yalpuh (220 sq km) in the Danube flood plain and Svytiazke in Polissia (27 sq km).
Ukraine has insufficient water supplies. The scarcest water resources are in southeastern Ukraine in the area where industry is centered. There are no local sources of water supply in such large cities as Kharkiv, Lviv, and Kryvy Rih. Thus canals have been dug from reservoires on the Dnieper to provide water to the arid regions of the country.