MEMEL, or Niemen, a river of Russia and Prussia, rising in the middle of the Russian government of Minsk at an altitude of 580 ft. and flowing generally west as far as Grodno. Thence it runs north to Kovno, separating Poland from Russia, and at Kovno it turns west again, still dividing Poland from Russia, until it enters the Prussian province of East Prussia, through which it flows west and north-west past Tilsit for a distance of 70 m. and finally enters the Kurisches Haff by several arms. Of these, those principally used for navigation are the Russ, and its chief branch the Atmat. The Russ is connected with the outlet of the Kurisches Haff at Memel by a canal, while another canal links the Gilge arm southward with the Pregel. Considerable quantities of timber are floated down the Memel, and large amounts of corn shipped down it and its navigable tributary the Viliya. The lowlands of Tilsit are protected against inundation by dikes. Total length of the river, 490 m.; area of its basin, 34,950 sq. m. It is navigable for large vessels as far as Grodno.
See H. Keller, Memel, Pregel und Weichselstrom (2 vols., Berlin, 1900); and Schickert, Wasserwege und Deichwesen in der Memelniederung (Königsberg, 1901).