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Narva (när´və), city (1994 pop. 79,094), NE Estonia, on the left bank of the Narva River. A leading textile center, it also has machinery plants, sawmills, flax and jute factories, and food-processing industries. The city is also an important producer of electric power. Founded by the Danes in 1223, Narva passed to the Livonian Knights in 1346 and was a member of the Hanseatic League. In 1492, Ivan III of Russia built the fortress Ivangorod on the right bank of the Narva, facing the Hermann fortress of the knights. After the dissolution (1561) of the Livonian Order, the city was first seized by the Russians, then taken (1581) by the Swedes; it continued to be contested by the two nations. In 1700, Charles XII of Sweden, with inferior forces, resoundingly defeated Peter I of Russia at Narva in the first great battle of the Northern War (1700–1721). Peter, however, captured the city in 1704, and it remained part of Russia until 1919, when it was incorporated into newly independent Estonia. Estonia was forcibly incorporated into the USSR from 1940 to 1991; German forces occupied the city in World War II. The city is dominated by two old fortresses, and it has retained a 14th-century Eastern Orthodox cathedral (originally Roman Catholic), and a 17th-century town hall and exchange buildings.

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Narva, river, c.50 mi (80 km) long, rising in Lake Peipus (Chudskoye), E Estonia, and flowing northeast past the city of Narva into the Gulf of Finland. It forms the border between Estonia and Russia. The falls of the river supply power to the fibers industry of Narva. After Estonia was forcibly incorporated into the USSR (1940), all Estonian territory E of the river was transferred (1945) to the Russian SFSR (now Russia); Estonia regards the transfer as an illegal annexation.