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Smolensk (Russian: Смоле́нск; Belarusian: Смаленск; Lithuanian: Smolenskas; Polish: Smoleńsk; German: Smolensk) is a Russian city and the administrative centre of Smolensk Oblast, located on the Dnieper River. Situated 360 kilometers (224 mi) west-southwest of Moscow, this walled city was destroyed several times throughout its long history since it was on the invasion routes of both Napoleon and Hitler. Today, Smolensk is noted for electronics, textiles, food processing and diamonds facetting. Population: 325,137 (2002 Census);[1] 341,483 (1989 Census).[3]



Origins of the name

The name of the city is derived from the name of the Smolnya Rivulet. The origin of the hydronym is less clear. One possibility is the old Slavic word "смоль" (smol) for black soil, which might have coloured the waters of the long-derelict Smolnya. An alternative origin could be the Russian word smola, which means resin, tar, or pitch. Pine trees grow in the area, and city was once a center of resin processing and trade. Another possibility is that it is named after the Swedish region of Småland, where it is theorized that a large number of the Norse Rus (Varangian) travellers most likely originated from in the 9th and 10th centuries ie: Småländsk (modern Swedish) - Smolensk.

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